HEINEKEN’s pilot project with a fridge manufacturer in Mexico means that 99.8% of the components of old fridges can now be reused, remanufactured or recycled.
HEINEKEN Mexico supplies between 30,000 and 40,000 green fridges to the market every year. While maintenance is carried to prolong their lifetime, the fridges generally last between seven to ten years before they are sent back to the manufacturer for disposal.
While Mexican environmental regulations require that refrigerant oil and gas be disposed of properly, there are no rules governing the disposal of the other 580 components of the fridge – including foam, glass doors, plastic, metals etc. The risk is that these components may end up in landfills.
To investigate solutions to the waste problem, HEINEKEN Mexico launched a ‘nudge’ contest, accompanied by e-learning for all employees to encourage circular thinking. The top ideas were presented to the Executive Board and the winners received a ticket to the Nudge Global Impact Challenge, a platform and network of young professionals from all over the world who dare to lead, care about sustainability and love to make an impact. A project team was set up, including Procurement, Logistics, Sales, Marketing and Sustainability employees, to work with producers on ways to recycle and reuse the end-of-life fridges.
The project found that 99.8% of the fridge components can be reused, remanufactured or recycled. That’s 579 out of 580 components! Only the rubber around the glass door needs to be disposed of. The project also reviewed the fridge lifecycle to identify designs and materials which can be changed or improved to facilitate reuse, remanufacturing and recycling.
In 2019, 30% of HEINEKEN Mexico’s end-of-life fridges were recycled or reused, aiming for 100% by the end of 2020.
As well as supporting the creation of more jobs and providing income for the recycling business, the project is being liaised with the fridge recycling industry to promote the transition towards a circular economy.