Get The Facts On Battery Recycling

Businesses of all types, large and small, rely on batteries. Whether it’s large batteries for vehicles or smaller batteries for common electronics like power tools, cell phones, or children’s toys, there are multiple items in your office or home that need batteries in order to function. In addition, municipalities and large organization use industrial, lead-acid batteries to run commuter trains and provide emergency power for essential services such as hospitals and the police. Batteries are an essential part of our daily lives and as a result, we need to properly care for and dispose of them when their usefulness has been depleted.

Batteries contain toxic heavy metals such as lead, mercury, nickel, and cadmium. All of these substances can harm the soil and groundwater when they are not properly disposed of.

There are federal regulations for battery disposal and recycling and several states also have their own, more stringent laws. For example, in regards to lead-acid batteries for vehicles, almost any shop or store that sells these batteries must also collect the used batteries for recycling.  As a result of this regulation over ninety six percent of lead-acid batteries are successfully recycled and kept out of landfills.

In addition, the Call2Recycle Program offered by the Rechargeable Battery Recycling Corporation offers businesses and consumers access to locations where rechargeable batteries are sold. While rechargeable batteries may cost a bit more, their lifetime is significantly longer than traditional batteries and can therefore save you money in the long run.

WasteCare Wants You to Remember: Even the smallest of batteries contains toxic substances so it’s important to put spent batteries aside instead of disposing of them in the trash. Many electronics and home repair stores offer battery collection, so the next time you’re in your preferred store be sure to ask. If they don’t currently have a recycling drop-off they might just start one!


Glass Recycling Basics

For hundreds of years, glass has been used for containers, holding everything from foods to liquids to precious jewels and gold. But did you know that the glass that holds your water as well as the glass that is used in your computer can be recycled and re-used many times over without losing its strength and durability? Unlike many other substances which break down and lose their usability quickly, old glass has many future applications.

Americans are responsible for adding almost twelve million tons of glass to their municipal solid waste streams. However, only twenty eight percent of that total amount is recycled and put to further use. Most recycled glass comes from food and beverage containers, which can easily be placed in curb-side recycling pick-up bins or dropped off at local transfer stations. Glass is also found in items such as household appliances, furniture, and electronics such as computers and televisions.

Glass from beverage and food containers can be recycled many times over. In fact, ninety percent of all glass that is recycled is used in the manufacturing of new glass containers. Additionally, the recycled glass is used to make kitchen tiles, wall insulation, and counters. Businesses responsible for producing these items require a steady supply of crushed, recycled crushed glass to supplement their new materials. When recycled glass is in short supply, manufacturing slows, prices increase, and business suffers. However, with increased glass recycling efforts and higher recycling rates, these problems don’t have to occur.

WasteCare Wants You to Remember: If you’re interested in knowing more about the benefits of glass recycling, there are three resources to consider: the Glass Packaging Institute in Washington, the Institute of Scrap Recycling Industries; and Clean Washington Center, which helps to develop re-sale opportunities for recycled glass.


Recycling Disaster Debris

When a natural disaster such as a flood or hurricane hits an area, trash and waste management is generally not the first priority first-responders and municipal officials are giving thought to. However, severe weather can be responsible for generating tons of garbage and debris, including building and construction rubble, green waste such as downed trees, shrubs, and displaced soil and sand, personal and household belongings, and damaged vehicles. This excess waste material places an extra burden on the community struggling to deal with the disaster’s impact.

The type and amount of debris resulting from severe weather will vary based on geographic location and the nature of the storm, however, community leaders should be establishing disaster recovery plans before an event hits. When creating a disaster relief plan, it’s essential to include a debris management component. This will help to ensure that waste material can be effectively removed in a timely manner and lessen the impact on both the environment and families and businesses. In addition, having a set plan that accounts for collecting storm debris, recycling appropriate materials and disposing of those materials that cannot, will also help to reduce costs in an otherwise expensive clean-up.

Some benefits of establishing a municipal disaster waste recovery plan include:

  • Reducing clean-up time post-disaster allowing families to return to their homes and businesses to re-open sooner.
  • Reducing costs by not having to make rushed decisions when severe weather strikes or contracting with expensive, last-minute services providers.
  • Reducing potential environmental and human hazards by having a plan to collect and safely remove toxic and hazardous wastes exposed due to a disaster.

WasteCare Wants You to Remember: Severe weather and natural disasters are something we’d prefer not to think about, but having a plan in place for waste removal and recycling during such times is essential for maintaining the well being of everyone who lives in the community. If your town hasn’t created such a plan, what are you waiting for? Delays will cost you and your tax-payers money!


Tips For Recycling Vehicle Antifreeze

If your business is responsible for managing and maintaining vehicles, then it’s important to understand the regulations for the proper use and disposal of antifreeze. Antifreeze is typically added to water in the cooling systems of cars, trucks, and marine craft to adjust the freezing point. Antifreeze is considered to be toxic to both people and animals as it contains lead, chromium, and cadmium in levels high enough to be considered a hazardous waste. Because of this, many states strictly regulate the disposal of antifreeze and make it illegal to dispose of it by dumping onto open land, sewers, storm drains, or septic systems as the heavy metal can contribute to drinking water problems and harm the wildlife and humans living in that community.

For businesses that rely on a regular use of antifreeze, establishing an antifreeze recycling program can reduce waste disposal costs and reduce the amount you need to spend on new materials. Recycling antifreeze by reconditioning it with special additives costs a fraction of what purchasing new would be and is relatively easy to do.

Recycling antifreeze is first done by removing contaminants such as oil and dirt and then adding select chemicals that extends the life of ethylene glycol, the primary ingredient in antifreeze. Ethylene glycol is derived from natural gas and has a very long effective lifespan, so it can maintain its usefulness for a longer period of time. The Earth911 organization can assist you in finding an authorized antifreeze recycling business or would like to learn more about the technology and chemical needed to perform this kind of recycling on your business site.

WasteCare Wants You to Remember: Antifreeze is a hazardous substance and needs to be properly stored, used, and disposed of. If your business frequently uses antifreeze, exploring recycling options, either in-house or through an authorized agent, may help you score points with customers for “going green” while saving money on purchase and disposal costs!


California Campus Honored For Zero Waste

The United States Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) recently honored the Irvine campus of the University of California for achieving zero waste status and their enhancement s with food recovery. The college’s waste management program diverts over eighty three percent percent of generated waste by re-using, recycling, and composting. The campus has also increased the diversion of food waste from ninety tons to five hundred tons. Campus administrators cite involvement in the EPA’s Food Recovery Challenge as a major asset in attaining their waste and recycling goals.

The attainment of these recycling goals was a collaborative effort between the school’s Facilities Management department, Orange County Waste Management and Aramark Dining Services, which is the food service provider for the campus. Food waste was specially collected in campus dining halls and cafeterias and then transported to Waste Managements organics recycling facility where it is used for a variety of environmentally-friendly applications including the generation of green energy.

Throughout the United States, over thirty five million tons of food waste is sent to landfills every year. As this organic waste decomposes, it becomes a source of the potent greenhouse gas methane. Serious attention has recently turned to methane emissions reduction as a way to calm global warming. Luckily, reducing the amount of food scraps and organic waste material disposed of through traditional methods by an increased effort to donate edible food, compost, and use organic matter for energy generation is helping businesses to cut back both their disposal costs and their carbon footprint.

WasteCare Wants You to Remember: If your business generates a significant amount of food scraps, food waste, and organic matter each month, it may be worth your time to investigate recycling and reuse options. Can you donate food to a local shelter or food pantry? Are there farms nearby that would like scraps for animal feed or composting? Does your state or county offer any programs to help convert food to energy? Participating in any of these may help to reduce your disposal costs and give your business some good publicity!

Hotel Owner Fined For Illegal Asbestos Removal

BBA Winchester, has settled a violations claim with the United States Environmental Protection Agency (EPA)  and agreed to pay more than twenty thousand dollars in fines and penalties for failing to adhere to federal guidelines for properly removing and disposing of asbestos during the demolition of a hotel located in Winchester, Idaho.

Due to the company’s failure to segregate the asbestos from other waste materials accumulated during the demolition, the entire debris pile was contaminated. This large scale contamination not only endangered the health and lives of workers employed at the job site but also resulted in an negative environmental impact to people and animals living in the community. Documents show that the company failed to perform a required check for asbestos material prior to the demolition. In addition, the company, once the asbestos was identified during the demolition, did not inform the EPA or make any attempt to follow established regulations. As the demolitions site was in a residential area, several community groups expressed concerns about the waste debris contaminating the air and groundwater.

Asbestos is a toxic pollutant regulated by the EPA to ensure public and environmental safety. When inhaled without the protection of proper safety equipment, asbestos particles can be transported into a person’s lungs and result in chronic health conditions such as lung cancer and asbestosis, an often fatal lung disease. All building owners or contractors working on building are required by law to check for asbestos and then properly remove it according to a set protocol before demolition begins.

WasteCare Wants You to Remember: When it comes to asbestos, it never pays to try to cut corners. Not only can failure to follow the regulations result in big fines and negative publicity, but it can also serious endanger your life and the lives of your employees!

Recycle on the Go Helps Airports Reduce Waste

The United States Environmental Protect Agency (EPA) offers the Recycle on the Go program as a way to encourage recycling in transportation centers and public places such as airports. Participation in the program is to assist those airport facilities and businesses to achieve a forty percent waste diversion or recycling rate. The overarching goal of the program is to help visitors and travelers remember that recycling and waste reduction is just as easy as important when they are in an airport or airport-operated businesses such as a restaurant or retail shop, as when they are at home. Increased recycling not only helps to preserve the environment and reduce the space needed in landfills, but it can also help to cost the yearly waste disposal fees that facility owners must pay to dispose of materials thrown away in the garbage.

Here are just a few of the suggestions for better waste mangaement strategies in an airport facility:

1) Airports are waste generators of items such as beverage and food containers, newspapers and office paper, and cardboard. These items are ideal for recycling so having clearly marked and regularly placed recycling bins can help reduce mixing of trash with recyclables.

2) Make sure the recycling bins are visible and contain simple signage in a variety of languages such as English, Spanish, Chinese, Arabic, and Russian to help ensure that all travelers can understand what waste materials go in which bins. If multiple languages cannot be placed on a sign, use symbols for paper, plastic, and garbage.

3) Stress the importance of recycling and reducing waste in signs and recorded messages available throughout the terminals. Placing information on the airport’s website can also stress to visitors and travelers the importance of properly disposing of their unwanted materials.

WasteCare Wants You to Remember: If you’re responsible for managing the facility of a large travel hub, such as an airport, it’s important to regularly review your waste disposal practices. You may find that by promoting recycling, you’ll be able to reduce the amount of tonnage you send to landfills every year!

Fines For PCB Violations

The United States Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is continuing its enforcement of proper management and disposal of toxic substances known commonly as PCBs. The most recent business to incur fines is Phoenix, Arizona’s Veolia ES Technical Solutions which must pay a ninety five thousand dollar penalty for infractions found at their production facility.

The charges originated from facility inspections conducted in 2008 and 2010 when EPA enforcement inspectors discovered PCBs were improperly stored and disposed – therefore violating the Toxic Substances Control Act.

Proper management of PCBs is essential for worker safety and preserving the neighboring community from potential health hazards. As part of the settlement, the company must improve its disposal and storage practices for all hazardous substances.

PCBs are found in paint, plastics, industrial equipment, and oil used in electrical transformers. Over one and one half billion pounds of PCBs were used in the US until the EPA banned the manufacturing of it in 1978. However, many PCB-containing products are still used, and disposed of, today continuing to create environmental problems. Tests have shown that PCBs remain in the ground for decades and are attributed to the development of cancer and other serious health problems.

WasteCare Wants You to Remember: Toxic chemicals are bad for everyone – you, your employees, and the community where you do business. It pays to stay informed of the best practices and regulations surrounding hazardous substances – not only can knowledge of proper storage and disposal save you money, but it can also save lives!


Keeping School Buildings Healthy And Green

The United States Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is providing information and resources to municipalities, school administrators, and school building facilities managers on how to create and maintain an environmentally friendly and healthy school environments.

Called “Lessons for a Green and Healthy School,” this exhibit and corresponding materials outlines best-practice techniques for obtaining a green-efficient and healthy school building environment.

The display and program provides information about the EPA’s recommended strategies, resources, and programs that serve to protect the health of teachers, staff, and students during the hours when they are in school. It is estimated that more than twenty five percent of total weekly hours are spent in a school building for those involved with education and an unhealthy environment can contribute to illness and long-term health problems. Schools that have healthy heating, cooling, and lighting arrangements have been shown to help to promote the development of children and learning.

The EPA is providing information and resources in five different categories. These include:

  1. energy efficiency,
  2. integrated pest management,
  3. air quality,
  4. storm water management, and
  5. green cleaning materials.

Schools can opt to participate in all areas or select those that present the most crititcal need to their school building or district. EPA national programs such as Tools for Schools; Design for the Environment, and Energy Star are also featured in the program with information about how schools can join and take advantage of additional resources.

WasteCare Wants You to Remember: A healthy building not only means healthy, productive employees but it also means reduced costs in energy use, heating and cooling, and payroll loss due to sickness or poor working conditions. Making simple changes can result in big improvements and potential profits!

The EPA’s Check-List For Construction And Demolition Waste

Before you start your next construction, demolition, or remodeling project, the United States Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has a few suggestions that can help to save you money and protect the environment.

1) Contact your state’s environmental protection office. They can provide information for recyclers and waste haulers. This will help you in recycling as much of your waste materials as possible.

2) Investigate local salvage businesses before purchasing new materials and products. Many offer wood, flooring, windows, cabinets, doors, hardware, and appliances that are in good condition for inexpensive prices.

3) Become familiar with the the EPA’s ReUse People website. This nonprofit group helps businesses to reduce their solid waste by salvaging building materials and making them available to low-income businesses and families in Mexico.

4) Review the United States Army Corps of Engineer’s document, “Selection of Methods for the Reduction, Reuse, and Recycling of Demolition Waste.” to become familiar with the best practices for reducing and disposing of construction and demolition waste.

5) Consider donating your unwanted or left-over construction materials to an organization such as Habitat for Humanity that can use them in building homes for low-income families.

6) For home remodeling projects, look through the “Field Guide for Residential Remodelers” pamphlet offered by the National Association of Home Builders. They provide cost-effective solutions for managing common remodeling waste.

7) For older homes, be sure to read the EPA’s resources on abating lead-paint hazards to ensure that you are staying with the law in terms of removal and disposal of this toxic substance.

WasteCare Wants You to Remember: Rules, regulations, and environmental best-practices are always changing, so it worth your time to stay informed. Not only will your customers see you as “green friendly” and looking out for their best-interest, but it can also keep you out of trouble and avoid costly fines from breaking the law!