Councils get £40m to dispose of 'fridge mountain'

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The Independent Online

Ministers are preparing an emergency programme worth up to £40m to tackle Britain's "fridge mountain".

Ministers are preparing an emergency programme worth up to £40m to tackle Britain's "fridge mountain".

Local councils will be paid about £15 per machine to dispose of refrigerators in accordance with new European environmental rules or store them until specialist recycling centres become available.

A stockpile of millions of disused fridges has grown because regulations ban authorities from dumping them in landfill sites. Instead, they have to be taken to recycling plants that can safely remove harmful CFC gases. Old machines are being sent to Germany to be dismantled because of the lack of facilities.

The Government is on the verge of agreeing the emergency package after talks with local authorities and retailers.

Michael Meacher, the Environment minister, announced last year a £6m fund to help local councils tackle the problem. Earlier, Peter Jones, director of development and external relations at Biffa Waste Services, told MPs that the true cost of the safe disposal of fridges was £40m-£50m a year. A mobile fridge recycling plant is operating in Lewes, east Sussex, and two more are expected to be working in the summer.

The export of fridges to Germany was described by the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs as "a useful interim measure". A spokesman said: "As long as countries have the capacity to dismantle UK fridges in the manner required, this has always been an option available to local authorities."

Peter Ainsworth, the shadow Environment Secretary, said: "The Government's lack of forward planning had led to fridge mountains appearing in the countryside."

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