Appliance Depot Expands, Adds Capacity

Jun D. Mariano disassembles a donated appliance to salvage reusable parts. Credit: Celina Tate.

Submitted by Appliance Depot

Due to a dramatic change in scrap metal prices, donating appliances for reuse is an even better option than hauling them to a recycling center. Appliance Depot, the nonprofit job training business, has expanded its facility to accommodate this market shift.

Because of the Chinese economic slowdown, there is very little demand for scrap metal, said Appliance Depot executive director, Duane Jager. As a result, Whatcom County residents now pay to recycle old appliances. In this market, local reuse is not only better for the environment but also a cheaper alternative than recycling, he said.

Unlike recycling centers, Appliance Depot does not charge to accept washers, dryers, and kitchen stoves which it tests, repairs, and sells to low-income households. It also provides free collection of these appliances in Bellingham and Ferndale.

According to Jager, the demand for affordable refurbished appliances has grown and the training business welcomes the additional donations of appliances.

The nonprofit business still charges to recycle Freon and appliances like dishwashers that it does not refurbish. These fees cover costs that Appliance Depot pays when it recycles the appliances it doesn’t save for reuse.

“Rather than paying to recycle appliances, people are looking for a free disposal option, and Appliance Depot is the only place that currently accepts appliances for free,” he said.

“We want to take advantage of this unusual market condition to educate the public about the importance of reuse. The costs and benefits of local reuse are not dependent on international markets, and support the local economy dependably,” he said.

Most of the donated appliances are eventually recycled, Jager added. Only 25% can be cost-effectively saved. “We save the reusable machines, strip reusable parts and basically serve as a collection point for our recycling partner, Z Recyclers. Jager explained. But repair and reuse should always be the first option. Since 2006, Appliance Depot has saved over 10,000 appliances from the crusher.

Appliance Depot added 1,600 sq. feet at their current location to hold the additional donations. Since the program’s revenue from recycling unrepairable machines dropped from $56,000 in 2014 to zero, the increased donations allow them to save more machines for resale and absorb the loss of recycling income.

To donate or schedule an appliance pickup, call 360-527-2646.

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