CO2 emissions equivalent to 100,000 family cars were released in 2017 and 2018 because of poor standards in UK fridge recycling plants, according to an independent study commissioned by leading electricals retailer, AO.

The study analysed data submitted by UK fridge recycling plants to the Environment Agency.  It reveals that only one UK fridge recycling facility consistently met the required standard for collecting the greenhouse gasses from fridges, which is the plant owned by AO in Telford.

Whenever a customer replaces an appliance, they have the option to select a recycling service where the old appliance is collected when the new one is delivered.  Alternatively, they can take their old appliance to a household recycling centre.  Fridges contain oils and gases which can harm the environment if they aren’t recycled properly.

The AO plant processes around 20% of the UK’s unwanted fridges which means other retailers and councils are processing through plants that don’t appear to capture all of the greenhouse gases, which would be in breach of their permit conditions.

Failure to meet the correct standards can result in prosecution by the Environment Agency with penalties of usually a fine and/or imprisonment. The maximum penalty is usually an unlimited fine and/or two years imprisonment.

“A failure to meet standards means customers are not getting what they pay for and its causing unnecessary environmental damage,” said AO Founder and Chief Executive, John Roberts.  “Some might be surprised to see an online retailer leading the way in an industry that’s home to some of Britain’s most trusted brands, but we are not prepared to turn a blind eye to poor practice.

Now more than ever, recycling is important to our customers and the only way we could guarantee standards was to own the process so we invested millions in AO’s recycling plant.  Anthesis’ findings justify every penny.  This study is a wake-up call for the industry to do the right thing: recyclers should meet the standards, retailers should take an active interest in their recyclers’ performance.”

A full copy of the study by global sustainability experts Anthesis can be found here.



AO press office        / 01204 672 504

Anthesis press office


Notes to Editors

  • AO Founder and Chief Executive, John Roberts, is available for interview.
  • Media visits to AO Recycling in Telford can be arranged by the AO Press Office.
  • Photographs and footage of AO Recycling are available from the AO Press Office


About Anthesis

Anthesis is a global sustainability services and solutions consultancy. It was founded on the true belief that commercial success and sustainability go hand in hand. It develops financially-driven sustainability strategies, underpinned by technical experience and delivered by innovative teams across the world. Having now grown to more than 450 experts across 14 countries in five years, the company combines the reach of big professional services groups with the deep expertise of boutiques.

About AO

Online electricals retailer, was founded in 2000 by entrepreneur John Roberts following a £1 bet in a Bolton pub. It continues to be driven by a similarly enterprising and disruptive mindset and a culture of customer service excellence. In February 2014 the company floated on the London Stock Exchange as AO World plc. was launched in Germany in 2014, with following in 2016.  The business has grown from a single category retailer to generating value from services in recycling, logistics, multimedia production, rental and mobile. stocks over 9,000 products and delivers millions of electricals every year from its 740,000 sq. ft. warehouses in Crewe.