By OnMilwaukee Staff Writers   Published Apr 10, 2013 at 10:40 AM

Today marks the first anniversary of the Focus On Energy Appliance Recycling Program, which pays $50 to eligible Wisconsin utility customers for their older, inefficient refrigerators and freezers.

Often kept in garages and basements, these secondary units can cost up to $150 a year in extra energy to operate. The old appliances are picked up by program representatives.

Today, Milwaukee-area elementary students will tour appliance de-manufacturing plants to understand the importance of recycling appliances.

Students from Greendale's Highland View Elementary School will visit an industrial plant in Franklin that employs robotic technology to convert 95 percent of old refrigerators and freezers into recyclable materials. The school's refrigerator will be replaced with a new, efficient Energy Star fridge.

"The way we consume electricity affects every generation, and it’s important to teach our young people how to be good stewards of our resources," said William S. Haas, program director at Focus on Energy.

Focus on Energy breaks down old refrigerators and freezers into metals, plastics, glass and other components that can be recycled, taking pressure off the nation’s supply of natural resources. About 95 percent of each unit can be repurposed.

Eligible customers can schedule a free pickup by calling (855) 398-5226 or visiting

Refrigerators and freezers must be in working order, clean and empty, with an inside measurement between 10 and 30 cubic feet. In addition, there must be a clear path for removal. A maximum of two units per household per calendar year will be accepted.