Refrigerators and freezers can contain a number of toxic components that must be professionally removed before a unit can be recycled. Refrigerants and foam containing ozone depleting substances such as CFCs and HCFCs as well as oils, PCBs and mercury are all commonly found in older units.
Some retailers will take an old refrigerator when a new one is purchased. Local waste management depots often take refrigerators, and some will even arrange a pickup from the house for free or for a small fee. Most local scrap metal recyclers will pay cash for refrigerators and freezers.
State Energy Efficiency Appliance Rebate Program (SEEARP)
Contact your state's energy office regarding appliance rebate programs. A number of states require the recycling of used appliances as part of the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009. The programs will offer either cash rebates or credit toward your next utility bill when you recycle a refrigerator.