Case Study 1

Refrigerator Recycling, Design Thinking the Process

End of life refrigerators need to be properly recycled to recover ozone depleting substances 'ODS' from both the refrigerant, and from the blowing agent that's encapsulated in the insulation foam.

We looked at a small recycling company that was using manual methods, and soon realised that the approach was inherently uneconomic.   We evaluated state of the art automated solutions from existing vendors, all processing about 5,000 fridges per week, but felt that we could do better.

By Design Thinking both the end-to-end business process, and the processing stream, we were able to do more than standard business process reengineering; we created a new model of operations starting at council collection sites.   The model included significant patentable technology including:

  • New process for recovering ODS; less capital intensive, cheaper to run, consumes less energy, and captures a higher proportion of ODS.
  • New transport system to reduce staffing and lorry journeys.
  • New storage and feed system to significantly reduce costs of handling.
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