At the township EAC meeting last night, we were told the waste committee discussed the need for more education around how to properly dispose of trash. The problem is, it’s becoming increasingly complicated to dispose of items. Each disposal route is getting more and more exceptions to what they’ll take. Before I go into detailed lists, I want to note the most common problems.
- DO NOT THROW AWAY LITHIUM BATTERIES. Every word there is a link to a different trash fire started by a lithium battery. Home Depot, Staples, other stores, the county’s household hazardous waste events and the township’s recycling events will generally take these batteries. Note that most small rechargeable devices have a lithium battery in them, so if its a rechargeable device, do not throw it in the trash.
- Do not recycle pizza boxes. They are compostable, but the grease makes them unable to be recycled. Shredded paper is another that should be composted, not recycled.
- Do not recycle plastic bags. If you put your recycling in a plastic bag, the odds are that whole bag is going into the incinerator.
So those are the big three items. At the EAC we’ve learned that cardboard, plastics 1, 2 and 5 and metals are the only recycling with significant monetary value. Glass is recyclable, but at a loss.
Here I’ll link to my previous article, but this time we’re going to go for more detail. The DelCo Solid Waste Authority also has a new website that might be useful.
Single Stream Recycling
The township contracts for single stream recycling. Clean single-stream recycling is key to keeping your recycling out of the incinerator. If you aren’t sure if something is recyclable, or it contains parts that aren’t recyclable, the advice currently is to throw it away instead. Recycling is:
- Clean glass bottles
- Clean metals
- Cardboard (but no Styrofoam or other packaging)
- Plastics 1, 2 and 5 (and 4 and 7 but they’re recyclability is minimal)
Household hazardous waste
These events are held by the county several times per year. The next one is June 10th, registration is required.
- Paint products: Turpentine, paint thinners, strippers & removers, oil-based paints, stains, varnishes, shellac, spray paint, solvent-based paint products, wallpaper cement (note, NOT Latex paint, dry that out and put it in the trash).
- Automotive products: Grease and rust solvents, fuel additives, carburetor cleaners, transmission/break fluid, antifreeze, car batteries, gas and oil
- Acids, caustics, solvents
- Flammables, oxidizers, reactives
- Lead, lead batteries
- Rechargeable, lithium and Ni-Cad batteries
- Herbicides and pesticides
- Pool chemicals
- Thermostats and thermometers containing lead
- Fluorescent Tubes and Ballasts and CFLs (those compact fluorescent bulbs)
Many stores now accept recycling for products they sell, though they may charge fees. Examples:
- Best Buy: TV & video, computers & tablets, cell phones & radios, appliances, ink and toner, audio, home (check the link, it’s an erratic list), music & movies, video games & gadgets, cameras & camcorders, car audio, video & GPS
- Staples: Many small consumer electronics (it’s a very specific list at the link), printer cartridges, most batteries, writing tools and some other odds and ends.
- Home Depot: Home depot seems to take some batteries, CFL bulbs and plastic shopping bags. It seems pretty minimal. Lowe’s seems to have a similar list.
- Mom’s Organic Market: Phones & tablets, batteries, eyeglasses, oyster shells, shoes, natural cork, denim, holiday lights
- Goodwill: among other clothes, toys, housewares and so on, they accept working: vehicles, DVD players, VCRs, laptops, hand and power tools, flat screen TVs and cell phones
- DelCo’s list of automotive waste: oil, antifreeze, kerosene, batteries, tires and metal
The township has a partnership with Retrievr, who will come collect some electronics and clothing from your home.
- Clothing, curtains, gloves, belts, hats, handbags, napkins and table linens, shoes
- Televisions, gaming equipment
- Computers, computer monitors, mobile phones, computer accessories, tablets
- Air conditioners and dehumidifiers
- Mini fridges (but not full size ones)
- Printers, fax machines
- Miscellaneous is on their list, but the asterisk is a large list of what it isn’t.
Township Electronic Recycling Events
The township holds electronic recycling events a few times a year, but like the household hazardous waste events, these are becoming increasingly crowded. So while they’ll take anything with a cord (some items require a fee), it may take some time for you to wait in line to get rid of it.
In my research, this is one item I singled out that nobody seems to want. Smoke detectors often have batteries, which need to be disposed of separately. This was probably the best write-up I found, from New Hampshire. More locally this is MontCo’s advice. Many smoke detectors have a radioactive element. The general advice is to not incinerate radioactive devices. The best advice I found was to return it to the manufacturer if possible. I’m pretty sure the township electronics recycling events will take them, but I’m not sure of that.
This is another tricky category. The county DA’s office has a list of medicine drop locations on a flier here. The state has a nice utility with a search feature. And sometimes there’s events to collect them, like this one. Prescription drugs can get misused or get into the water or air where it harms people and other life so don’t put it down the sink or in the trash. For other medical waste, this seems to be the guidance from the local solid waste authority.
Fireworks can be thrown away, but first they should be soaked in a bucket of water overnight. Having lived in Michigan, it doesn’t surprise me that Michigan has clear advice what to do with them,
Whether they are used or unused, do not place any fireworks or any part of fireworks in your recycling container. All fireworks should be treated as trash.
Put used fireworks in a bucket of water overnight. Remember that fireworks can still be burning on the inside long after the sparks have stopped. Remove them from the water and put them in a garbage bag and into your garbage can.
Completely submerge unused fireworks in a large bucket of water and soak until thoroughly saturated. This may take 15 minutes for small fireworks or as long as overnight for larger ones. Double wrap the completely soaked fireworks in plastic wrap or two plastic bags so they do not dry out. Place the double-bagged fireworks in a larger trash bag and put them out with your household trash.
For ammunition, the advice online seems to be to contact your local police department or a local gun range. I’m not sure if that’s the right answer here, but it seems a good place to start. For old flares, you’ll have to consult the fire departments or fire marshal, the household hazardous waste events won’t take these items.
For helium, propane and other gas cylinders, the best solution is to return it to wherever you got it from as these are often reused.
If your appliances still works, you may be able to get some money from PECO for it. They list fridges, freezers, air conditioners and mini-fridges in this program. It’s expensive, but Best Buy will haul away TV’s, major appliances, computers and other large items. Their full list is here. PAR recycle works, who does the township recycling, may take other items, but their website isn’t specific. You can drop items off or schedule a pickup. I couldn’t find a DelCo list of freeon recovery services (for freezers, fridges, dehumidifiers, air conditioners, etc.), but some of Chester County’s list serve DelCo. MontCo also has a list that might also be useful.
Even after all this, I’m sure there’s still more missing. If you notice I’ve left something off, use the contact page to let me know and I’ll come back and add it.