Tag Archive: Hazardous Waste

Recycling Legislation in Europe Provides a Great Example

Below is a guest post by eseprojects.co.uk, and independent UK manufacturer and supplier of storage equipment, mezzanine floors, office partitioning and steel industrial partitions.

The European Union makes recycling an international priority.

The European Union (EU) is a collection of European nations, bought together under free market agreements and political legislation. One of the key areas this international governmental organization deals with is green issues. Regulations concerning emissions and recycling are created in Brussels, and each member state is given targets for reducing the amount of waste they create and increasing the amount of materials they recycle.

Take a look at the directives that exist around the processing of waste and the kind of targets that member states across the pond have to adhere. If you work in the recycling industry, or coordinate recycling at your organization, learn how to identify waste and set goals to inform your policy decisions. Photo: Nicolas Raymond

Types of Waste

When it comes to waste production the EU have tagged a number of different areas as problematic, ranging from the types of different waste produced through to the manner in which waste is disposed. These include the following:

Batteries – These are often made from toxic materials that can cause damage to the environment and local ecosystems if disposed of as landfill waste. There are directives in place to help EU member states cut down on their consumption of batteries based on the amount produced in any country and the amount collected as specific battery waste. There are certain types of batteries that are exempt from EU regulations such as those used in miner’s helmets.

Links to products featured on RecycleScene are affiliate links. We try and only feature products that close the recycling loop. Make a purchase of recommended products on our site, and we get a small percentage of affiliate commission to maintain our site. Thanks!

Paint Can Be a Hazardous Waste: Proper Disposal Options

Below is a guest post by Duane Neukom, Marketing Manager at Wastex.com, a hazardous waste disposal company. WasteXpress provides assessment, transportation and disposal of toxic waste for businesses in the Portland, OR and Seattle, WA areas.

Paint disposal and recyclingWhat do you do with your old paint? Most people just throw it out without realizing that paint may be a hazardous waste that can contaminate the soil, groundwater, air and the local watershed. When it comes to dealing with old or unneeded latex and oil-based paints, the good news is that proper hazardous waste disposal is simpler than you may think.

How to Dispose of Latex Paint

Latex paints are water-based and can harm the environment even if your state doesn’t consider this type of paint an environmental hazard. Never dispose of latex paint by dumping it down a storm drain, a drain in your home or any body of water. Also, don’t just throw a can of paint that you don’t need into the trash. Photo: Daniel R. Blume

The proper form of hazardous waste disposal for latex paints it so let them dry until they’re solid. If you only have a bit of paint left, use the remaining amount for touch ups and let the rest naturally dry in the can. Alternatively, purchase paint hardener at the hardware store. Other materials that used to harden paint include shredded paper, cat litter and mulch. After the paint completely dries, it is generally safe to throw it out in the trash.

It’s important to note that in some states, like California, it is illegal to dry paint on your own. Check with your local hazardous waste collection site about the regulations in your state before you begin the paint-drying process.

Latex Paint Recycling Options

The nice thing about latex paint is that it’s simple to recycle. Here are some ideas:

Links to products featured on RecycleScene are affiliate links. We try and only feature products that close the recycling loop. Make a purchase of recommended products on our site, and we get a small percentage of affiliate commission to maintain our site. Thanks!

3 Ways to Dispose of Light Bulbs, Plus Bonus Crafts

The first thing you need to know is that there are different types of light bulbs. In our previous post, we provided tons of info about recycling CFLs, or compact fluorescent light bulbs. Incandescent light bulbs are the old-school light bulbs many of us may still have before we switched to CFLs (the swirly coiled up ones).

Traditional, low-efficient incandescent bulbs give off more heat, and are trickier to recycle because they don’t contain mercury like CFLs. When an item contains something hazardous, such as mercury, laws are passed to make it easier to dispose of them because no one wants toxic stuff leaking out everywhere. That’s why it’s easier to find recycling collection areas for CFLs and not incandescent bulbs.

A little background: The Energy Independence and Security Act of 2007 began phasing out inefficient bulbs in 2012. Even though the law says that 75-watt incandescents can no longer be produced in the U.S. in 2013, if any stores still have them they are allowed to sell them. The 100-watt bulb was also phased out, and 40 and 60 watt bulbs will be phased out in 2014.

It gets confusing because some cities and counties consider all light bulbs hazardous waste. Other places say it’s okay to throw old incandescent light bulbs in the trash. Just because it’s “safe” doesn’t mean it’s good to throw them away with the rest of your garbage.

What to Do With Old Light Bulbs

Here’s other ways to dispose of light bulbs:

IKEA. IKEA has collection stations for batteries, cardboard boxes, sometimes Styrofoam and other materials, and light bulbs. It may look like it’s only for CFL bulbs, but older bulbs are often accepted for FREE. It depends on the location and changes from time to time, so call first to find out what they are currently accepting. Call again in a few months to see if there were any changes.

Make a call. Certain electrical supply companies or hardware stores near you may accept light bulbs for recycling, sometimes for a fee. Give a few a call to find out their guidelines.

Light Bulb CraftsLight Bulb Crafts

When you get an idea about how to reuse a light bulb, a little light bulb shows up above your head. Here’s a few creative options to try before you throw old light bulbs away:

  • The light bulb’s distinctive curvy shape lends itself well to repurposing it into cute crafts, as seen with these light bulb penguins, and this page with a turkey, dogs, and even Santa, proving that after adding some color and little hats, light bulbs make great ornaments.
  • If you feel like a bigger project and have some dexterity, use this tutorial on how to empty out a light bulb. That way, you can turn it into a cool oil lamp.
  • Fill it with water or dirt and it’s transformed into a cool decorative piece like a mini aquarium or this light bulb terrarium.

Photo:  theogeo

Links to products featured on RecycleScene are affiliate links. We try and only feature products that close the recycling loop. Make a purchase of recommended products on our site, and we get a small percentage of affiliate commission to maintain our site. Thanks!

Safe and Simple Smoke Detector Disposal

smoke detector disposal

Recycling smoke alarms and detectors is the smart thing to do.

Smoke detectors have a limited life span according to a date specified, usually about ten years. That means even if you’re replacing its battery regularly, eventually you’ll need a new smoke alarm. Smoke detectors help you protect your household in case of a fire emergency, so when it’s time to get rid of one, remember to protect the earth. State and local practices for safe smoke detector disposal vary, but we’ve  got some helpful guidelines for you.

There are two different types of smoke alarms and detectors: Photoelectric and ionization. Either type contains plastic and electronic components and usually batteries. The ionization technology contains a very small amount of what is considered radioactive material. This is why many State Radiation Control Programs conduct annual round-ups of ionization smoke alarms similar to the roundup of batteries or hazardous household chemicals. Photo: Mulad

Smoke Detector Disposal Tips

Don’t just throw items away! Pitch in and recycle your smoke alarms and detectors. Recycling smoke detectors helps keep potentially harmful materials out of landfills.

  • Test often. The only way to know if your detector will work when needed is by pressing that test button monthly. If it doesn’t work, it’s time for a new one.
Links to products featured on RecycleScene are affiliate links. We try and only feature products that close the recycling loop. Make a purchase of recommended products on our site, and we get a small percentage of affiliate commission to maintain our site. Thanks!

Recycling Solar Panels is Double Green

recycle solar panelsSolar panels provide a way to harness the clean, renewable heat energy of the sun, but producing and recycling them poses unique challenges.

By end of 2011, 5 million tons of photovoltaic (PV) modules had been installed in Europe alone and will enter the waste stream in the next 10 to 30 years. Because of the drastically changing legal and economic market conditions the PV sector is experiencing across the world today, the recuperation of such panels is a topic that will be at the center of the debate in years to come.

PV CYCLE was founded in 2007 as a voluntary initiative, well in advance of EU legislation that will require photovoltaic panel producers to recuperate their electrical and electronic equipment in the 18 months to come. Today, the association represents more than 250 European and international PV companies. In 2011, it recycled more than 1400 tons of PV waste and from January to August 2012 alone, already more than 2,700 tons.

PV CYCLE is the only pan-European non-for-profit association ensuring the collection and recycling of all types of photovoltaic panels. PV CYCLE has recycled more than 6,000 tons of PV modules in only two years!

PV CYCLE is engaged every day in attracting new collection and recycling partners and enlarging the number of companies that benefit from its service. The system already represents 90% of the entire European PV market and is working thoroughly to tackle the growing PV waste stream.

Through its more than 260 collection points, PV installers and end-users dispose of their photovoltaic modules in special containers from which the panels will be picked up and sent to a European recycling plant. All PV CYCLE services, including an on-site pick-up for large quantities and recycling, are free-of-charge for the module owner. Nowadays it is possible to recover up to 80% of the incoming weight and 95% of certain components, depending on the type of PV module. Precious metals and rare earth materials are also recovered through the process.

Recycling Solar Panels

Glass granules from the recycling process for solar panels.

In the U.S., incentives for installation of solar panels started in the 1970s, and only recently were federal tax credits for installing solar panels made available. Most industry experts agree that setting up photovoltaic recycling infrastructure is a solid long term plan.

BioSolar is notable as the first company to introduce a new dimension of cost reduction by replacing petroleum-based plastic panel components with durable bio-based components.

In California, there are proposed regulations that would add used solar panels to the broad category of e-waste, which now includes batteries, CRT monitors, and some electronics.

A group of researchers from Yale University is also calling for an international policy on the recycling of rare specialty earth metals critical in the production of thin-film solar cells and other technological devices.

Visit pvcycle.org to explore the world of PV recycling. The future is Double Green!

Images courtesy of PV CYCLE. Thank you to Pia Alina Lange for contributing to this article.

Links to products featured on RecycleScene are affiliate links. We try and only feature products that close the recycling loop. Make a purchase of recommended products on our site, and we get a small percentage of affiliate commission to maintain our site. Thanks!