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Many people know that they should be recycling items. However, they are not sure how to go about it. There are several options for what you can recycle including glass, plastic, paper, and metal. Below you will find out the best ways to recycle these items. Some of this information is specific to the US but most of it can be used anywhere in the world.

Batteries

One of the most common types of batteries recycled are lead-acid batteries, with 2.9 million in 2018, representing 99% of generation. The amount of batteries recycled for the other types is not well tracked. Although batteries are recyclable, most batteries, including lithium-ion, lithium metal, lead-acid, and other rechargeable batteries should NOT go in household garbage or recycling bins.

The dry cell batteries are available in a variety of electronics and include alkaline, carbon zinc and silver oxide. These batteries can be disposed of through in-store recycling bins or community collection events.

Lithium-ion batteries

Lithium-ion batteries are commonly found in items such as electronic reading devices, cell phones, and laptops. They provide power to the various components that allow the device to run as advertised. It is important to dispose of used rechargeable batteries properly so they do not leak into the surrounding environment. Household batteries should be disposed of at a collection station. When brought to a collection point, batteries should be prepared for transport by removing external connections and/or labels that indicate the battery’s nominal voltage and wattage. Additionally, all batteries must have oxygen vent caps that are in good condition. The battery terminals must also have insulating tape to prevent short circuits, and the terminals should be covered with tape or placed in plastic bags before transporting them to the disposal site.

Lithium metal batteries

Lithium metal batteries are commonly used in products such as cameras, watches, remote controls, handheld games and smoke detectors. Like many other batteries, lithium-metal batteries aren’t biodegradable. Because of their potential for environmental harm, it is important that they be handled properly. Look for dedicated in-store recycling bins or household hazardous waste collection events for proper disposal.

Lead-Acid Battery

The Lead-Acid Battery is a storage battery that can be found in automobiles, boats, snowmobiles, motorcycles, golf carts, wheelchairs and other large transportation vehicles. Return lead-acid batteries to a battery retailer or local household hazardous waste collection program; do not put lead-acid batteries in the trash or municipal recycling bins.

Rechargeable batteries

Other rechargeable batteries you may be interested in include Nickel Cadmium (Ni-Cd), Nickel Metal Hydride (Ni-MH) and Nickel Zinc (NiZn). They can be found in portable power tools, cordless phones, cell phones, digital cameras, and small electronics. Do not put these batteries in the trash or municipal recycling bins. Dedicated battery disposal bins or household hazardous waste collection events for battery disposal.

Plastics

Millions of tons of plastics are produced every year. Of the estimated 35 million tons created in the United States, only 8.7 percent were recovered for reprocessing and recycling in 2018. Some types of plastic are recycled more than others. Plastic products manufactured from recycled plastic materials are available today.

Plastic recycling is different from other types of recycling. About 70% of plastic containers and packaging can be recycled. To do this, the plastic is washed and shredded, then melted to form new items.

Grocery bags are made of high-density polyethylene, a type of plastic that is recyclable. There are recycling bins at most grocery stores where customers can return bags for recycling.

Before recycling, make sure that all tops have been removed from the items. These materials should be sorted into general “Plastic Containers” bins for recycling. Because polycarbonate baby bottles cannot be recycled, they should be removed from recycling bins and thrown in the trash.

Polystyrene (commonly referred to as Styrofoam) does not break down or decompose. The majority of recycling facilities now accept polystyrene through curbside collection. Turn this product into your city’s recycling center or throw it in the landfill to dispose of it safely.

Tires

Tires, which are made from recycled rubber, may present health hazards. When old tires are placed in tire piles, they decompose and emit a petroleum benzene gas that can cause leukemia. They can also catch on fire. Disease-carrying pests such as rodents may also live in tire piles. Tire piles can also catch on fire. Most communities require homes to recycle old tires. Used tires can be returned to a used tire dealer or to a local recycling facility that accepts tires. Some communities hold collection events where you can drop off used tires. Commonly, garages have not been properly trained in tire handling or fire safety. The work environment is hazardous for tire workers and in turn, the community’s residents. For a small additional fee, professional tire recycling services will ensure that used tires are handled safely without exposing anybody to potential harm.

Electronic Goods

Computers, Printers and Hardware

The easiest (and most environmentally friendly) way to dispose of your old computer is to find someone who needs one. Some schools and community organizations are looking for computers to donate to low income families or young children. Also, put up a notice in local stores or community bulletin boards offering your computer for free.

There are many ways to give your old computer equipment a new life. Many communities have nonprofits that accept donated computers, which they then make available to eligible individuals for a small fee plus reimbursement for any expenses incurred by the donor. Two national organizations include

Used printer cartridges can now be accepted by HP and other printer manufacturers. Many include pre-paid postage and packaging for return shipping when new cartridges are purchased.

Glass

The recycling of glass is an important component in sustaining a healthy environment. Glass, especially glass food and beverage containers, can be recycled over and over again. In the United States in 2018, 12.3 million tons of glass were generated, 25 percent of which was recovered for recycling. Making new glass from recycled glass is typically less expensive than using raw materials.

Glass is accepted in most curbside recycling programs provided it is clean and free of contaminants. If you have trouble finding a program in your area, you can contact your local recycling program.

Household Hazardous Waste

HHW that is not disposed of properly may be deemed a hazardous material by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and become subject to safety regulations.
The United States and the European Union have banned the production and import of many potentially hazardous products. While it is often difficult to find alternatives, try to reduce your purchases of these products and look for an alternative, non-hazardous products. When you do need to dispose of these products, look for specific collection events in your community or permanent collection centers. Sometimes businesses that sell these products will also accept them for recycling.
Disposing of household hazardous waste (HHW) is important. Before you throw stuff into the trash, it’s important to ensure that it’s compatible with local rules and regulations. So check with your local waste management division.

Paper

The most recycled material in the United States is paper, which makes up 23 percent of municipal solid waste generated each year. In 2018, Americans recycled about 68 percent of the paper they used, which saved trees and other natural resources. Today, many paper recycling programs are available in public spaces and private companies. By recycling your paper, you can help reduce the amount of paper that goes into landfills.

Gift Wrap and Gift Bags

If you have to buy wrapping paper and gift bags, look for paper products that are made only from recycled content or that are made from recyclable materials. You can also reduce waste by using decorative boxes instead of wrapping paper or gift bags. For many reasons wrapping paper is not recyclable in many areas. Paper and plastic can be recycled, but paper coated with a substance like varnish, glossy paint, or special removable ink cannot be recycled.

Used Oil

Used motor oil is a pollutant. Do not drain it into the sewer or storm drain system, as it can pollute local waterways. Instead, recycle your used motor oil; by doing so you are helping to protect our nation’s water resources. New motor oil is made from refined crude oil. Each barrel of crude oil contains around 19 gallons of used oil, typically referred to as recycled or used oil because it has already been used in engines. Recycling methods vary depending on the type of oil, but most facilities combine or heat the oil with a chaser fluid (typically kerosene) and then centrifuge the mixture to separate out free water and impurities before filtering and refining the used oil into usable new motor oil.

Aluminum, Steel, and Copper

Food Cans

The cans should be as clean as possible. They should not have any label or lid and the lining should be completely removed. It is best if they are flattened but even if they are not, it is still worth recycling them.

Aluminum Cans

Aluminum cans are important to recycle, and many centers request that they not be crushed flat. Aluminum foil and foil packaging can also be good for recycling and reprocessed into aluminum mechanical components, such as engine parts.

Paint Cans and Aerosol Cans

For paint cans, remove labels and store them in a cardboard box or paper bag. Aerosol cans are considered hazardous waste and must be recycled separately from other metals. Leave the cap on aerosol cans, and attach a label clearly stating that is an empty can and not trash or household hazardous waste.

Copper

Copper is a valuable metal that is commonly used in residential and commercial construction and is a valuable recycling material. We handle the full range of projects, from design to implementation. Let us help you with your next project.