Whirlpool's refrigerators are taking a greener turn. The appliance manufacturer is rolling out the use of Honeywell's new Solstice liquid blowing agent to apply closed-cell spray foam insulation during refrigerator production. The change will reduce the Whirlpool's greenhouse gas emissions substantially, equating to taking 400,000 cars off the road.
"We are making products that perform better, but at the same time doing so with a smaller environmental footprint," says Ron Voglewede, global sustainability director for Whirlpool. Representatives from Honeywell add their expectations that use of Solstice across multiple industries will dramatically reduce greenhouse gas emissions and offer "safe, cost-effective and easily adopted" ways for manufacturers to develop their products.
Unlike ozone-depleting chlorofluorocarbons, or hydrofluorocarbons (HFCs) with a high global warming potential (GWP), Solstice has received approval under EPA's Significant New Alternatives Policy (SNAP) Program designed to evaluate and regulate substitutes for ozone depleting chemicals that are being phased out. Solstice has been found to increase the performance of insulation by 4% without ozone-depleting properties or any measurable negative impact on the environment. HFCs used in refrigerator insulation often have GWP scores around 1,030, Whirlpool notes, meaning the release of the HFCs into the atmosphere would trap 1,030 times as much heat as the same amount of carbon dioxide. The GWP score for Solstice is just 1, matching the air exhaled from your lungs.
All of Whirlpool's refrigerators manufactured in the U.S. are now being made with Solstice, and additional production facilities are planning for the transition.
Meanwhile, the company also announced this week a recycling program for its refrigerator water filters. Called Refresh & Recycle, consumers who take part in the program can purchase a $9 water filter recycling kit from niche recycling company g2 Revolution. The kit includes a postage-paid mailer and instruction on how to return their used water filters, which are then recycled into concrete aggregate. For their trouble, consumers also receive a 10% off coupon for their next Whirlpool-brand refrigerator water filter purchase (including Whirlpool, Maytag, KitchenAid, Jenn-Air, and Amana).
While Refresh & Recycle doesn't promise the same level of environmental impact as the use of Solstice, it does aim to reduce the number of water filters that end up in the landfill. Whirlpool recommends that consumers replace their refrigerator water filters every six months. With each spent filter weighing about a pound, the landfill potential is extensive.