Online electricals retailer AO is today celebrating recycling over two million fridges at its recycling plant in Telford – lined up, that’s a whopping 2,000+ miles, equalling the distance from Edinburgh to the North Pole.

With several council recycling sites forced to close due to Covid-19 restrictions, the nation has seen an increase in fly tipping over the last year. During the lockdown period of April 2020 to April 2021, AO Recycling received 68% more unwanted fridges compared to the previous year.

AO has been responsibly disposing of its customers unwanted fridges since 2017 – all thanks to a fridge crunching machine called Bertha. Fridges are notoriously tricky to dispose of safely, as they contain more harmful gases than your average appliance, but AO’s 80-tonne machine can tackle 100 fridges every hour. With Bertha’s help, AO can process over 700,000 fridges annually, which is 20 per cent of all white goods scrapped every year.

The machine is the height of a three-story house. It works by spinning heavy metal chains inside an airtight container at around 500 revolutions per minute, creating a vortex that breaks the fridge into tiny pieces – think of it like a supersized kitchen blender.

The machine also takes care of the harmful gases and oils stored in fridges that can damage the environment if released into the atmosphere. Dangerous gases are trapped between tiny pockets of insulation foam, but these are safely removed inside the sealed chamber. In fact, AO are the only fridge recycling plant in the world to collect 100% of harmful gasses released from a fridge – which is all down to Bertha’s efficiency.

Once Bertha has done her job, materials are then reused in other household items, such as sustainable ventilation products.

Robert Sant, MD of AO Recycling, said: “We’re so pleased that not only have we saved a huge two million fridges from being fly-tipped, but we’ve disposed of them in the safest way possible. At AO, we always want to do more. As a retailer, we want to take responsibility for the entire recycling process and hopefully it won’t be long before the plastics we produce can be used to create brand new fridges.”

To find out more about how AO collects and recycles fridges from customers, visit: