EPR and the Role of Alliances in the US White Goods Sector

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Over the last decade several states in the USA have introduced landfill bans on appliances. At the same time, the turnover rate for household appliances in North America has been increasing, with an estimated 40 per cent of appliances in North America due to be replaced. This has helped create a seemingly profitable market for the take-back and recycling of end-of-life white goods. In addition, many public authorities and utilities are acting on the need to remove older, less energy-efficient appliances from the marketplace as a means of reducing greenhouse gas emissions. This has also been a driver for the recovery, re-use and recycling of discarded appliances while simultaneously offering consumer incentives to purchase more energy- and water-efficient models.

Within the context of EPR, an interesting partnership approach has emerged in the USA. Companies like the Appliance Recycling Centers of America Inc. (ARCA) are now promoting joint initiatives with public authorities and with appliance manufacturers as a way of optimizing the efficiency of recycling infrastructure and extracting maximum value from the incoming flows of discarded white goods.

ARCA is a publicly held company that provides collection, recycling and re-use services for major household appliances. The company collects used appliances from new appliance retailers and other sources and reconditions a portion of these units for resale. ARCA has its own national network of stores, called 'ENCORE . . . the reused appliance store'. The scale of the network is now increasing as the quantity and availability of re-usable white goods increase. Appliances that cannot be sold in the stores are recycled by ARCA in an environmentally responsible manner. Most importantly, ARCA has developed a formal alliance with Whirlpool Corporation to provide environmentally sound appliance recycling services for used appliances that are scrapped when Whirlpool sells new replacement units to apartment complexes that are being refurbished. ARCA has agreed to use Whirlpool appliances to support the 'early retirement' programs sponsored by energy utilities that replace older household refrigerators with more energy-efficient models.

ARCA's business is expected to expand across North America because of the alliance with Whirlpool, providing ARCA with a reliable supply of used appliances. While the relationship with Whirlpool was meant to be exclusive for the initial partnership period, ARCA expects to form alliances with other white goods manufacturers as well.

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