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Waste Reduction & Recycling



Materials: Reduce, Reuse, Recycle

Reference: Much of the information below came from the EPA’s waste management website.  Some of the information about material also came from Earth 911’s website.

There will be a list of materials in this section of the website that can be accessed under the Materials: Reduce, Reuse, Recycle section on the Solid Waste Management Information tab.  Clicking on each type of material (currently in purple) will lead you to a page listing the resources for that specific material. 

Materials: Reduce, Reuse, Recycle


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Antifreeze

Antifreeze Recycling emblem
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Automotive Parts

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Batteries

Recycling

    • Lead-Acid Automobile Batteries:Nearly 90 percent of all lead-acid batteries are recycled. Almost any retailer that sells lead-acid batteries collects used batteries for recycling, as required by most state laws.
    • Non-Automotive Lead-Based Batteries: An automotive store or a local waste agency may accept the batteries for recycling
    • Dry-Cell Batteries:
      • Alkaline and Zinc-Carbon Batteries
      • Button-Cell Batteries
      • Rechargeable Batteries
    • More information on recycling batteries »

Other Resources

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Carpet

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Ceiling Tiles

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Disaster Debris

Disaster Debris. North Carolina Dept of Environment and Natural Resources. Disaster Debris. North Carolina Dept of Environment and Natural Resources.

Ideas for recycling disaster debris: Green waste, such as trees and shrubs, can be “recycled” into valuable organic material, such as compost or mulch.

    • Concrete and asphalt can be crushed and sold for use as sub-base in road building.
    • Metal can be recycled and sold by scrap metal dealers.
    • Brick can be sold for reuse or ground for use in landscaping applications.
    • Dirt can be used as landfill cover or a soil amendment for farmers.

Additional information on disaster debris »

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Electronics

Donating
Note:  Follow regulations for dealing with confidential information before donation.

Recycling
Depending on where you live and the amount of equipment you have, the best recycling option might be:

    • county recycling drop-off center
    • TV repair shop, charitable organization
    • electronics recycling company
    • local electronics retailer, which might collect used products and send them to a recycler
    • Resources:

Computers
Recycling Computers Is Not Just the Right Thing to Do, It's Required by Law: Electronic equipment contains hazardous substances such as lead (6 lbs./computer monitor), mercury, chromium, cadmium, and beryllium. Because of the toxic characteristics, many computer components are considered hazardous waste.

Under the Resource Conservation and Recovery Act, it is the responsibility of the generator (the person who creates the waste) to "characterize" the waste (determine if it is hazardous) and to manage it appropriately. If your facility generates more than 7-8 computers in a month (assuming you have no other hazardous waste), you will fall into the category of "Small Quantity Generator." If you have many more computers, you could be a "Large Quantity Generator." This makes you subject to RCRA requirements. In this case, you can be subject to civil and criminal penalties if you were to send these computers to the landfill in regular trash or to break them intentionally as part of disposal. You need to recycle these. If you recycle, the computers will not be treated as a hazardous waste, under a new proposed CRT (cathode ray tube) rule.

    • FactsheetPDF format on the Proposed CRT Rule to Streamline Electronics Recycling.
    • EPA Powerpoint PresentationPDF format explaining how the computers are regulated under RCRA and the proposed CRT rule (intended to streamline recycling) would work.

Not All Computer Recyclers Are Doing It Right!

      It is also your responsibility, as the generator, to make sure that the recycler is managing your waste appropriately. You need to ask questions about how the computers are being recycling before you choose a recycling service. Recently, controversial practices related to shipping computer components overseas for recycling has been in the news, due to the lack of health and safety protocols in place to perform this activity. The private group who investigated these practices was able to attribute the computers sent there to specific government agencies due to the presence of property tags still on the equipment. You need to ask for assurance that your recycling will complete all aspects of the de-manufacturing process domestically to avoid this problem. Under the UNICOR MOU, Federal Prison Industries will be required to report on their environmental, health and safety practices annually.

Property Management Regulations Applicable to Computer Disposal and Donation:

Federal Resources for Computer Recycling:

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Firing Range Waste

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General Household Hazardous Waste

General Household Hazardous Waste includes products, such as paints, cleaners, oils, batteries, and pesticides that contain potentially hazardous ingredients.

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Glass

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Light Bulbs

Light Tubes and Ballast Recycling: Factsheets on Light Tube Crushing:

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Mercury-Containing Equipment

Factsheets on Mercury-Containing Thermostats:

Information about Removing Mercury Switches in Autos:

State Websites on Mercury Recycling:

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Metal

Aluminum can

Types of metal that can be recycled:

Find a metal recycling solution near you »

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Organic Waste (Food waste, yard waste, wood waste)

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Paper

Categories of Paper
Five basic paper categories: old corrugated containers (also known as corrugated cardboard), mixed paper, old newspapers, high grade deinked paper, and pulp substitutes.

Although shredded paper is not a separate grade of paper, shredded paper can be recycled (usually as a mixed grade) as long as it is shredded to an appropriate size and does not contain an unacceptable level of contaminants, such as plastics. Collection program coordinators who want to recycle shredded paper should check with their contract hauler to determine appropriate shred size and level of contamination acceptable for recycling.

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Plastics

Some types of plastic can be recycled by your local recycling contractor. 

Different types of plastic can be identified using resin identification codes, represented by numbers on the bottom of plastic containers:

      SPI Resin Identification Codes
      Recycling Plastics. Photo from EPA: Plastics. Recycling Plastics. Photo from EPA: Plastics
      1. PET
      2. HDPE
      3. Vinyl
      4. LDPE
      5. PP
      6. PS
      7. OTHER
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Propane Tanks

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Textiles

  • Donate – You can often donate used textiles to charitable organizations.  Keep in mind that it is important to keep the textiles clean and free from moisture.
  • Recycle – textile recovery factories for reuse, reprocessing or composting
  • More Information on Textiles Waste Management
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Tires

Scrap tires, as a solid waste, are regulated primarily by state governments. Currently, 48 states have laws or regulations specifically dealing with scrap tires.

Science and Technology – Innovative Uses for Scrap Tires

      tires
    • Highway Sound Barriers
    • Athletic and Recreational Applications
    • Railroad Ties

Resources

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Used Motor Oil (and Used Oil Filters)

Used oil can be re-refined into lubricants, processed into fuel oils, and used as raw materials for the refining and petrochemical industries. Used oil filters contain reusable scrap metal, which steel producers can use as scrap feed.

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Wooden Pallets

Wooden pallets. Photo from Catawba County Government, North Carolina.

There are often local businesses that will collect, repair and/or recycle pallets. Here are a few examples of companies with these types of services.

    • Can visit Earth 911 and search for a local service provider near you.  
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Recycling of Additional Materials Using Earth 911

You may still be able to recycle some materials that were not listed in this document. For a more complete list of recyclable materials, refer to Earth 911.

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U.S. Department of the Interior

Greening of the Interior

catherine_cesnik@ios.doi.gov