How to Recycle and Dispose Appliances, Batteries, Electronics, and More
The average American produces 4.51 pounds of waste per day, according to the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) – and only 35% of that waste is recycled or composted. That’s nearly 140 million tonnes of waste landfilled every year! While most of us know how to put our cans and bottles in the blue bins for recycling, disposal can become a little more tricky when it comes to other items such as appliances, electronics and old drugs – this is why, when you get to work on some spring cleanings, it is so important to know how to dispose of these items properly.
Of course, before you throw something out for good, a solid first step is to always donate items (in good working order) to nonprofit and charitable organizations like Goodwill, Habitat for Humanity, The Salvation Army. or local charities; or list them on Craigslist, eBay or even Facebook. But if it’s time for your items to really reach the curb, it’s important to know how to dispose of everything in an eco-friendly way; after all, even a little bit does a lot to go green. So if you’re wondering what exactly to do with old batteries or obsolete electronics you find when you clean your home this year, here is a practical AZ guide on everything you can dispose of responsibly:
Batteries of all types can be recycled. According to Duracell, ordinary single-use alkaline batteries (like those that power our remote controls) can safely go to the trash everywhere except California; however, a more environmentally friendly disposal method is to recycle them in nearby community programs, workplaces or recycling centers that accept them.
Rechargeable batteries (like those of mobile phones and other electronic devices) must not be thrown in the trash and must be recycled, as they may contain dangerous chemicals. To find a nearby recycling site for all types of batteries, be sure to check Call2Recycle and Earth911.com – and before recycling them, be sure to place clear, non-conductive tape over the ends or terminals of the battery to ensure safe recycling.
If you’re trying to get rid of some unwanted books, consider donating them first – many charities, libraries, schools, and even prisons and shelters accept donations of used books year-round. Some large organizations – many of which have national outlets – include Better World Books, Books For Soldiers and Books For Africa (as well as second-hand stores like Goodwill or The Salvation Army). Of course, you can also try to sell them on sites like Amazon or BookScouter, especially if you have textbooks.
However, if your books are beaten beyond hope, they can sometimes be recycled. According to Earth911.com, you can recycle the entire book if it’s a paperback, but if you’re trying to get rid of a hardcover book, you’ll need to remove the cover binderg before recycling. And remember that if your book has gotten wet (or if the papers have turned brown or brown), they should actually be thrown away with your regular garbage, as this unfortunately makes the material non-recyclable.
The best way to dispose of cleaning products is to use them! If this is out of the question, it is important to read the labels to find the correct way to dispose of them – so be sure to check the bottle’s instructions on proper disposal. Tip: in most cases, water-soluble products (like bleach) can be washed down the drain or toilets with running water, and solid cleaning products like bar soaps and scouring pads can go in the trash. And of course, when recycling the bottles for all the cleaning products that can be thrown on the train, make sure to empty all the unused product and rinse it a couple of times before throwing it in the recycling bin.
If you enjoy using your individual serving machine, you can take steps to eliminate the environmental impact. Nespresso offers capsule recycling in more than 122,000 places around the world. Visit any Nespresso or partner store (including Sur La Table and Williams-Sonoma) or get a free online pod recycling bag that comes with a prepaid UPS shipping label.
For K-Cups, some varieties (including the Green Mountain type) can be recycled, although the company is starting to make all of their pods recyclable by the end of 2020. Look for a sign first. recycling n ° 5 below. , before removing the aluminum cover and discarding it with the grounds (although the filter may remain). Then recycle the empty cup – but be sure to check locally first, as K-cup pods are not yet recyclable in all communities.
- Mobile phones: Before disposing of your old cellphone, first delete all of your personal information using a factory option or a hard reset. (Check the manufacturer’s website for how). You will also want to remove or erase the SIM or SD card. Then you can trade in, donate or recycle your device – usually directly at the store. For example, AT&T manages the charity Cell Phones for Soldiers, which donates devices to troops abroad. You can also search online cycling sites in your area using this database, including private recyclers, non-profit organizations and other programs.
- Televisions: Do not throw your old TV or monitor in the trash! Some older kits contain toxic materials like lead and are considered hazardous waste. Best Buy, LG, Vizio, Samsung and Sony all offer television recycling programs (in-store, event, drop-off site and transportation options). You can also try to contact your local sanitation service for advice.
- Laptops and computers: Consult Dell Reconnect, World Computer Exchange and eBay for Charity if you would like to donate your device. Similar to TVs, you will want to recycle them responsibly, so contact the manufacturer or retailer to see if they will help you.
Before throwing away your old obsolete glasses, first consider giving them to organizations such as OneSight, Lion’s Club or New Eyes, who take old glasses and distribute them to those who need them. As glasses can be made from many different materials, they are a bit difficult to recycle – so the gift might actually be your best (and most sustainable) bet. If you do need to throw them out, make sure to separate the lenses from the frames. If your frames are aluminum, you may be able to separate them (and place them in a larger aluminum container) for recycling at the curb. Of course, be sure to check first by contacting your recycling center or local council.
- Washers and dryers: If they are still in good working order, donate them to a shelter or house that would probably benefit from them. If you buy new laundry appliances, ask the manufacturer if they are certified to recycle your old ones. If all else fails, call your local waste management office to see if you can leave it on the sidewalk or check out Earth911.com for more options.
- Refrigerators and freezers: Leave the disposal of these large devices to professionals. Contact your local public works department to schedule the removal, or use this EPA Responsible Appliance Disposal (RAD) page to find a partner program near you. The costs of this service vary. According to the EPA, the removal can cost between $ 10 and $ 50, but you can receive a discount for the disposal of your device responsibly. Goal!
- Microwave: Some municipalities allow you to recycle broken microwaves into scrap metal. (Electronics recyclers will do the same for a small fee.) You can also bring this product to a day of recycling wholesale items or household appliances organized by local authorities.
If you’re looking to throw away your old pots and pans and other kitchen utensils, consider giving them to second-hand stores like Goodwill and Salvation Army, or even listing them on websites like Craigslist to find them a second home. For kitchen utensils that are now unusable, however, recycling is an option; In reality, you may be able to recycle your metal pots and pans with curbside recycling if your program accepts “scrap”. However, most roadside recycling programs do not accept these items, so you should try to find a scrap recycler near you to dispose of them properly.
As for kitchen utensils, those made of metal will have the same recycling options as metal kitchen utensils, but if your cutlery is made of plastic, it is important to know what type of resin they are made in order to determine their recyclability. However, wooden spoons and other wooden cutlery can usually be composted with your organic waste.
Some states and jurisdictions may in fact require light bulb recycling, so check your local laws before throwing them in the trash. Since light bulbs often break when discarded, they can release mercury to the environment. Try Earth911.com to find out how to safely dispose of it (as well as other hazards, such as paint and pesticides) near you.
Some cities will pick up your mattress if you put it (sealed in a plastic bag to avoid bedbugs) with your regular garbage for bulk collection. If you are planning to buy a new mattress, many retailers will also transport the old one for you.
If it is used gently and in good condition, you can try donating it to a non-profit organization (such as Habitat for Humanity, The Salvation Army, or a local homeless shelter). Just check that the regulations of the health services in your region allow it. If not, try the Bye-Bye Mattress website to find a recycling center near you or hire a removal service like 1-800-GOT-JUNK? to do the dirty work for you.
It is important to get rid of expired or unused medicine as soon as possible to prevent others from accidentally taking or misusing it.. To safely dispose of them, use this DEA Diversion Control Division search engine to find a certified disposal site near you (including some pharmacies). Your local law enforcement agency may also organize periodic collection days.
If you can’t find any, you can also throw certain medications in the trash by following this method suggested by the FDA:
- Mix the medicines (do not crush them) with an unpleasant substance such as dirt, cat litter or old coffee grounds.
- Place the mixture in a sealed plastic bag.
- Throw the bag in the trash.
- Scrape or hide all personal information on empty vials or packaging before disposing of it.
Note: The FDA recommends flushing some specific medications down the toilet when a take-back option is not available due to the potentially life-threatening risk of someone accidentally taking them. These include hydrocodone (for example, Vicodin) and oxycodone, and a few others. You can see the full list here or view the label for specific disposal instructions.
Many household water filters can be recycled through manufacturer or retailer recycling programs. Brita encourages their filters to be sent to their recycling program with TerraCycle – just collect your used filters (after drying them for three days) as well as the Brita pitchers and bottles in a trash bag, package them and then dispose of them drop off at a UPS location after completing a shipping form on the Brita website to obtain a prepaid shipping label. By doing so, you can even earn Brita points to redeem for exclusive rewards!
For other brands of water filters, you can contact the manufacturer to find out if they offer a recycling program, or use TerraCycle’s Zero Waste Box program which will safely recycle all your water filters (as well as air filters ) for you – although you will need to purchase a box to ship to their program.