Battery Recycling 101

Corroded batteries show how volatile alkaline material can be, especially after a battery ‘dies’

In today’s world, everything runs on batteries. They’re in things we use every day. Inevitably though, they run out of power and the age-old question comes up – what do you do with your spent batteries? In the past they ended up in a junk drawer, an old coffee can in the garage, or even in the trash. But, you can recycle batteries with a few extra precautions? Here are four tips to safely handle and recycle your “dead” batteries:

  • Individually bag or tape the battery terminals– Just because a battery stops powering your device doesn’t mean it’s dead. The battery only seems dead because it no longer has the voltage needed to power the item. In fact, there is still voltage left and therefore it requires a little TLC in the recycling process. By applying adhesive tape to the battery terminals or individually bagging each cell, you stop the chance of the remaining voltage in the battery making a connection and causing a safety hazard.
  • Store batteries in a cool, dry place – Batteries and inclement weather don’t mix. Always store used batteries in a plastic container like the EasyPak™ Battery Recycling Container from TerraCycle Regulated Waste that will keep them cool and dry. Batteries left exposed to extreme heat for long periods of time can deform, leak or even explode.
  • Used batteries don’t keep – All good things come to an end and generally don’t get any better with age. The same applies to used batteries. Professional recyclers like TerraCycle Regulated Waste suggest that used batteries should be recycled within one to six months of expiring. Beyond that, corrosion becomes a risk factor.

My battery has sprung a leak! Now what? – In the case of damaged or leaking batteries, never mix them with their uncompromised counterparts. This can cause all the batteries to be become contaminated and hazardous. Simply secure them in an individual bag appropriate for their size and weight, label it “leaking batteries” and store them in your recycling receptacle with the other spent batteries until you recycle the batch.

“Batteries are so common it’s easy to forget that they’re full of chemicals that could potentially be harmful to the environment if allowed to enter our landfills,” said Gary Casola, technical sales specialist at TerraCycle Regulated Waste. “With our EasyPak Canister, we’ve taken the workout of the battery recycling process. Our canister is a UN certified insulated container, which includes tape for the terminals, as well as a pre-paid shipping label used to return the canister when its full. At TerraCycle Regulated Waste we pride ourselves on our commitment to the environment and providing our customers with efficient, cost effective solutions to the irregulated waste streams.” 

For more information about TerraCycle Regulated Waste or to speak with a representative about the EasyPak® battery recycling options, visit www.terracycle.com

Sharps Container Basics

Medical waste (sharps) disposal requires a puncture resistant container.

by Sarah Morrison

sara-bakhshi-1080214-unsplash

TerraCycle Regulated Waste has started working with many different end users that include patients that self inject at home, healthcare facilities, nursing facilities and more. It is very important to make sure that sharps are properly secured in a OSHA approved sharps container to avoid needle sticks.

For many individuals, interaction with sharps is an everyday occurrence. Sharps are classified as any device or object used to puncture or lacerate the skin. These include common items such as: hypodermic needles, disposable scalpels and blades, and contaminated glass and some plastics. (1) Once used in this manner, a sharp is now labeled as bio-hazardous waste, and must be disposed of properly in a sharps container. In this blog, we are going to discuss the following:

What are Sharps Containers?

Why are Sharps Containers needed?

Where do you find Sharps Containers?

What are Sharps Containers?

The FDA has cleared certain types of containers for certified sharps container disposal. These plastic containers must be “leak-resistant, remain upright during use, and have a tight-fitting, puncture-resistant lid”. (2) The reasoning behind this heavy amount of regulation is the fact that used sharps are considered to be bio-hazardous waste. Sharps containers can be either single-use, disposed of along with the sharp inside, or recyclable, which are emptied and sterilized before being returned for use. (1)

Why are Sharps Containers needed?

According to the WHO, more than sixteen billion injections are administered annually worldwide. (3) Individuals with medical conditions such as allergies, arthritis, cancer, diabetes, hepatitis, HIV/AIDS, infertility, migraines, multiple sclerosis, osteoporosis, blood clotting disorders, and psoriasis, require the use of sharps often multiple times a day.

Examples of sharps include:

● Needle – a very fine, slender, hollow piece of metal used to inject medication under the skin.

● Syringe – device which a needle is attached to in order to inject medication into or withdraw fluid from the body.

● Lancet also called a “finger stick” – instruments with a short, two-edged blade used to get drops of blood for testing. Lancets are commonly used in the treatment of diabetes.

● Auto injector, including epinephrine pens – syringe pre-filled with fluid medication designed to be self-injected into the body.

● Infusion set – tubing system with a needle used to deliver drugs to the body.

● Connection needle/set – needle that connects to a tube used to transfer fluids in and out of the body. This is generally used for patients on home hemodialysis. (4)

Sharps container disposal is necessary in order for that bio-hazardous material to be safely handled. It’s important that disposed sharps not be forced into the container, so that the sides aren’t punctured and needle stick injury occur. Sharps containers should never be filled past the indicated line, typically two-thirds of the way, in order to prevent these incidents.

Where do you find Sharps Containers?

Any facility such as healthcare, dental, and medical offices that handle sharps, are required to house FDA-certified sharps containers. In addition to medical facilities, many public areas such as airports and restrooms in large institutions also offer sharps containers in order to accommodate the self-injectors. Sharps disposal is heavily regulated, requiring containers to display a bio-hazardous symbol indicating that the material inside is hazardous. Each state regulates the disposal of sharps differently. Click HERE to determine your state’s standards for sharps disposal.

It’s important to minimize the amount of contact that an individual has with bio-hazardous material such as sharps waste. For that reason, programs such as sharps mail-back systems exist to take away the issue of finding a reputable disposal location. TerraCycle Regulated Waste can proactively provide sharps mail-back systems to patients that self-inject. Any healthcare facility or self injector can find solutions for sharps Mail-Back waste HERE.

The number of sharps produced annually is steadily growing. Sharps containers are necessary in ensuring that the disposal of that bio-hazardous waste is done safely and efficiently.

Sources

(1) “Sharps Waste.” Wikipedia, Wikimedia Foundation, 14 Sept. 2018, en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sharps_waste.

(2) “FDA-Cleared Sharps Containers.” Safe Needle Disposal, safeneedledisposal.org/sharps-management/fda-cleared-sharps-containers/.

(3) WHO Archived 2006-05-25 at the Wayback Machine. World Health Organization (2004). Proposed agenda to evaluate the risks and benefits associated with using needle-removing devices. Switzerland.

(4) Safe Needle Disposal. (2018). What Are Sharps? – Safe Needle Disposal – Types of Sharps. [online] Available at: https://safeneedledisposal.org/sharps-management/what-are-sharps/ [Accessed 16 Oct. 2018].

Topics: sharps mail backsharps container disposalvet sharps disposal

Certificate of Recycling

What is a Certificate of Recycling and why do you need one?

What is it and why do you need one?

In simple terms, a certificate of recycling documents the amount and type of waste that is recycled by an organization and is proof that your company is compliant with the standards set forth by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). While valuable, the benefit to your company doesn’t stop with government compliance. Below are three hidden advantages that make a certificate of recycling an indispensable asset to your company:

Example Certificate

Provides Proof of Compliance with Government Requirements

The EPA recommends that to demonstrate compliance with government regulations, processors and handlers provide a certificate of recycling that includes key information such as materials recycled, amount and date of processing. This documentation ensures that your company is prepared in the event of inspections.

Supports Corporate Stewardship

As companies are becoming more environmentally aware, many are adopting a policy of corporate stewardship that addresses the interdependent nature of their relationship with the communities where they live and work. By securing a certificate of recycling you are demonstrating your commitment to the community, preserving the environment, as well as showcasing your corporate values.

Your Sustainable Business Practices Can Help Your Bottom-Line

Good business practices don’t stop with profitability and customer service. The Nielsen Global Corporate Sustainability Report shows that globally, 66% of consumers are willing to spend more on a product if it comes from a sustainable brand, with 58% specifically citing companies that are environmentally friendly. Put another way, a certificate of recycling from a well-respected waste organization not only demonstrates your compliance with the government, but also with your customers.

“TerraCycle Regulated Waste specializes in providing sustainable solutions for mercury-containing fluorescent bulbs, battery, ballast and electronic waste disposal,” said Bobby Farris, General Manager of TerraCycle Regulated Waste. “It has always been our policy to provide a certificate of recycling that details everything a customer would need to show compliance, not only with the government but also with their customers.”

For more information about TerraCycle Regulated Waste or to speak with a representative about the innovative BulbEater®, visit the TerraCycle Regulated Waste website.

LED Incentive Programs

LED retrofit programs can be expensive, but the savings substantial. An incentive program can help cover the initial cost.

Image result for led lighting
LED Retrofit Lighting Tube

The benefits of making the switch to LED lighting from fluorescent are many.  Obviously, LED’s offer much higher efficiency than their fluorescent counterparts.  The ability to give off comparable levels of light (measured in lumins) at much lower wattage means substantial savings in utility costs.  Also, LED’s last much longer than typical mercury-containing lamps, meaning far less maintenance for facility management.  Plus LED lighting offers a number of unique features that add to their value.  They can provide a broader spectrum of visible light which enhances the work environment and can positively impact fatigue and concentration.  Many LED systems offer dimmable controls and other flexible options to further customize the lighting provided. 

But an LED retrofit can be an expensive undertaking.  Mathematically, LED lighting pays for itself quickly.  Between the lower operating cost and the longer practical lifespan of the lamps, a facility can quickly reap the benefits of the change.  Many organizations have made the change knowing that they would make up the investment in lower utility cost, but for some organizations the initial investment can be prohibitive.  They recognize that the benefits are many, but for a variety of reasons cannot commit to the up-front expense of a retrofit project.

Fortunately, there are a growing number of incentive programs for facilities that are considering a switch to high-efficiency LED.  Any reputable electrical contractor should be able to work with a facility to find the most appropriate incentives for a retrofit project.  From utility companies to lighting manufacturers, there are grants, low-interest loans, rate discounts and funding opportunities.  Whether the help comes from your electrical supplier or local government, it is an effective way to defray start-up costs on a major project.

Contact your energy provider and local government for more information on conservation programs in your area.  Your electrical contractor or lighting supplier can provide the details on manufacturer incentive programs.

And don’t forget to properly dispose of any mercury-containing lamps you are uninstalling.  TerraCycle Regulated Waste offers the best options available for the proper recycling of mercury-containing lamps of all sizes and quantities. 

You’re Doing That Wrong

State regulations on sharps disposal vary, but a mail-back container is a solution accepted in every state.

How to properly dispose of your personal needles and sharps

As the number of medications that must be injected by patients grows, so does the number of reported accidental needle ‘sticks’ for municipal solid waste collectors and workers.  With diseases like HIV and Hepatitis potentially transmitted by dirty needles, in addition to other possible illnesses, MSW departments are concerned for the health of their employees, and rightly so.

Improvised sharps storage

But there is no good reason why the health and safety of these workers need be put in jeopardy when accidental sticks are easily preventable.  Virtually every municipality and state in the country requires that used medical needles and sharps be disposed of in puncture-proof containers.  And while some locations will allow for improvised solutions, such as empty laundry detergent bottles, most do require purpose-specific sharps containers.

Needle clipping system

The dangers of accidental sticks are so great that several states have gone so far as to completely ban disposal of used sharps and needle in the household waste, even if properly contained in a purpose-specific sharps container.  A number of states require disinfecting any sharps before disposal in the household trash.  Some locations require all needles and sharps be destroyed before disposal.  This can be with the use of an at-home needle clipper or plaster of Paris.  

Mail-Back Programs are a Solution

Mail-back sharps system

TerraCycle can provide an easy, safe solution for sharps disposal.  We feature puncture-resistant sharps containers in a wide array of sizes– from household sized containers, perfect for the person needing to inject once a month all the way to institutionally-sized containers for small medical offices or tattoo/piercing parlors.  And every sharps container we offer comes with prepaid postage and shipping containers, so that disposal is handled safely, professionally and properly.

Our mail-back medwaste disposal meets or exceeds sharps disposal requirements in every state, including California, Massachusetts and Oregon.  And unlike most medwaste processors, TerraCycle utilizes hemostat technology to decontaminate the sharps and needles, then recovers the recyclable metals, limiting the impact on the environment.

TerraCycle has compiled a list of state regulations on the disposal of sharps and needles for your convenience.  If you have any questions or would like more information on one of our mail-back programs, contact a TerraCycle Regulated Waste representative now.

State Regulations

StateRequirementsSub-sectionsRequirements
AlabamaCommercially available sharps container or
Puncture-resistant plastic or metal container
  No clear or glass containers
Disinfect at home w/ bleach
Double bag, seal, discard in household trash
AlaskaContact medical provider, pharmacy, fire station
for local disposal options -or-
Commercially available sharps container or
Puncture-resistant plastic or metal container
  No clear or glass containers
Label container: “SHARPS” or “DO NOT RECYCLE”
Discard with household trash- not recycling
ArizonaCommercially available sharps container or
Puncture-resistant plastic or metal container
  No clear or glass containers
Seal with heavy-duty tape
Label container: “SHARPS” or “DO NOT RECYCLE”
Discard with household trash- not recycling
ArkansasCommercially available sharps container or
Puncture-resistant plastic or metal container
  No clear or glass containers
Disinfect at home w/bleach
Seal with heavy-duty tape
Label container: “SHARPS” or “DO NOT RECYCLE”
Double bag and discard with household trash
CaliforniaDisposal of home generated sharps waste PROHIBITED
Commercially available APPROVED sharps container
Transport to collection center (pharmacy, hospital, household hazardous
waste facility) -or-
Mail-back program
ColoradoCounty laws supersede state requirements
Commercially available sharps container or
Puncture-resistant plastic or metal container
  No clear or glass containers
Seal with heavy-duty tape
Label container: “SHARPS” or “DO NOT RECYCLE”
Discard with household trash- not recycling
Mesa County
El Paso County
Larimer County
Refer to local regulations
ConnecticutCommercially available sharps container or
Puncture-resistant plastic or metal container or
Sharps/Needle destruction device
  No clear or glass containers
Seal with heavy-duty tape
Label container: “SHARPS” or “DO NOT RECYCLE”
Discard with household trash- not recycling
DelawareCommercially available sharps container or
Puncture-resistant plastic or metal container
  No clear or glass containers
Seal with heavy-duty tape
Label container: “SHARPS” or “DO NOT RECYCLE”
Double bag
Discard with household trash- not recycling
District of ColumbiaCommercially available sharps container or
Puncture-resistant plastic or metal container
  No clear or glass containers
Disinfect at home w/bleach
Seal with heavy-duty tape
Label container: “SHARPS” or “DO NOT RECYCLE”
FloridaCounty laws supersede state requirements
Commercially available sharps container or
Puncture-resistant plastic or metal container
  No clear or glass containers
Seal with heavy-duty tape
Label container: “SHARPS” or “DO NOT RECYCLE”
Discard with household trash -or-
Mail-back program
54 counties out of 67
have regulations in
place
Refer to local regulations
GeorgiaCommercially available sharps container or
Puncture-resistant plastic or metal container
  No clear or glass containers
Seal with heavy-duty tape
Label container: “SHARPS” or “DO NOT RECYCLE”
Double bag
Discard with household trash- not recycling
HawaiiCommercially available sharps container or
Puncture-resistant plastic or metal container
  No clear or glass containers
Disinfect at home w/ bleach
Seal with heavy-duty tape
Label container: “SHARPS” or “DO NOT RECYCLE”
Double bag
Discard with household trash- not recycling
IdahoCommercially available sharps container or
Puncture-resistant plastic or metal container
  No clear or glass containers
Seal with heavy-duty tape
Label container: “SHARPS” or “DO NOT RECYCLE”
Double bag
Discard with household trash- not recycling
IllinoisContact medical provider, pharmacy, fire station
for local disposal options -or-
Personal needle destructive device
Commercially available sharps container or
Puncture-resistant plastic or metal container
  No clear or glass containers
Label container: “SHARPS” or “DO NOT RECYCLE”
Discard with household trash- not recycling
Northern Cook County
LaSalle County
Further regulations
http://www.epa.illinois.gov/Assets/iepa/waste-management/medication-disposal/sharps-fact-sheet.pdf

http://www.knib.org/wp-content/uploads/2012/01/Safe-Disposal-of-Sharps.pdf
IndianaCounty laws supersede 
IowaContact medical provider, pharmacy, fire station
for local disposal options -or-
Commercially available sharps container or
Puncture-resistant plastic or metal container
  No clear or glass containers
Label container: “SHARPS” or “DO NOT RECYCLE”
Discard with household trash- not recycling
KansasCommercially available sharps container or
Puncture-resistant plastic or metal container
  No clear or glass containers
Disinfect at home w/ bleach
Label container: “SHARPS” or “DO NOT RECYCLE”
Double Bag
Discard with household trash- not recycling
KentuckyCommercially available sharps container or
Puncture-resistant plastic or metal container
  No clear or glass containers
Label container: “SHARPS” or “DO NOT RECYCLE”
Discard with household trash- not recycling
LouisianaCommercially available sharps container or
Puncture-resistant plastic or metal container
  No clear or glass containers
Fill with Plaster of Paris
Label container: “SHARPS” or “DO NOT RECYCLE”
Discard with household trash- not recycling
MaineContact medical provider, community health center
for local disposal options -or-
Commercially available sharps container or
Strong plastic or metal container
  No clear or glass containers
Label container: “SHARPS” or “DO NOT RECYCLE”
Seal container and ensure outside is free of visible contamination
Discard with household trash- not recycling -or-
Mail back program -or-
Personal sharps needle destruction device (free to residents)
MarylandContact medical provider, pharmacy, fire station
for local disposal options -or-
Commercially available sharps container or
Puncture-resistant plastic or metal container
  No clear or glass containers
Label container: “SHARPS” or “DO NOT RECYCLE”
Seal with heavy-duty tape
Discard with household trash- not recycling -or-
Mail back program -or-
Personal sharps needle destruction device
MassachusettsDisposal of home generated sharps waste PROHIBITED
Commercially available sharps container or puncture-resistant container
Transport to collection center (pharmacy, hospital, household hazardous
waste facility) -or-
Mail-back program
MichiganContact medical provider, pharmacy, fire station
for local disposal options -or-
Commercially available sharps container or
Puncture-resistant plastic or metal container
  No clear or glass containers
Label container: “SHARPS” or “DO NOT RECYCLE”
Seal with heavy-duty tape
Discard with household trash- not recycling -or-
Mail back program -or-
Personal sharps needle destruction device
MinnesotaContact medical provider, pharmacy, fire station
for local disposal options -or-
Commercially available sharps container or
Puncture-resistant plastic or metal container
  No clear or glass containers
Label container: “SHARPS” or “DO NOT RECYCLE”
Seal with heavy-duty tape
Discard with household trash- not recycling -or-
Mail back program -or-
Personal sharps needle destruction device
MississippiContact medical provider, pharmacy, fire station
for local disposal options -or-
Commercially available sharps container or
Puncture-resistant plastic or metal container
  No clear or glass containers
Label container: “SHARPS” or “DO NOT RECYCLE”
Seal with heavy-duty tape
Discard with household trash- not recycling -or-
Mail back program -or-
Personal sharps needle destruction device
MissouriContact medical provider, pharmacy, fire station
for local disposal options -or-
Commercially available sharps container or
Puncture-resistant plastic or metal container
  No clear or glass containers
Label container: “SHARPS” or “DO NOT RECYCLE”
Seal with heavy-duty tape
Discard with household trash- not recycling -or-
Mail back program -or-
Personal sharps needle destruction device
MontanaContact medical provider, pharmacy, fire station
for local disposal options -or-
Commercially available sharps container or
Puncture-resistant plastic or metal container
  No clear or glass containers
Label container: “SHARPS” or “DO NOT RECYCLE”
Seal with heavy-duty tape
Discard with household trash- not recycling -or-
Mail back program -or-
Personal sharps needle destruction device
NebraskaContact medical provider, pharmacy, fire station
for local disposal options -or-
Commercially available sharps container or
Puncture-resistant plastic or metal container
  No clear or glass containers
Label container: “SHARPS” or “DO NOT RECYCLE”
Seal with heavy-duty tape
Discard with household trash- not recycling -or-
Mail back program -or-
Personal sharps needle destruction device
NevadaCommercially available sharps container or
Puncture-resistant plastic or metal container
  No clear or glass containers
Label container: “SHARPS” or “DO NOT RECYCLE”
Seal with heavy-duty tape
Discard with household trash- not recycling -or-
Mail back program
* Washoe County
   Exception
New HampshireContact medical provider, pharmacy, fire station
for local disposal options -or-
Commercially available sharps container or
Puncture-resistant plastic or metal container
  No clear or glass containers
Label container: “SHARPS” or “DO NOT RECYCLE”
Seal with heavy-duty tape
Discard with household trash- not recycling -or-
Mail back program -or-
Personal sharps needle destruction device
New JerseyContact medical provider, pharmacy, fire station
for local disposal options -or-
Commercially available sharps container or
Puncture-resistant plastic or metal container
  No clear or glass containers
Label container: “SHARPS” or “DO NOT RECYCLE”
Seal with heavy-duty tape
Discard with household trash- not recycling -or-
Mail back program -or-
Personal sharps needle destruction device
New MexicoCounty laws supersede 
New YorkState law allows disposal of home generated sharps in the regular trash,
however, local laws may prohibit
Hospital and nursing homes are required by law to accept properly
contained sharps:
Commercially available sharps container, puncture resistant plastic or
metal container
  No clear or glass containers
Label container: “SHARPS” or “DO NOT RECYCLE”
Seal the container with heavy-duty tape
North CarolinaCommercially available sharps container or
Puncture-resistant plastic or metal container
  No clear or glass containers
Label container: “SHARPS” or “DO NOT RECYCLE”
Seal with heavy-duty tape
Discard with household trash- not recycling 
North DakotaContact medical provider, pharmacy, fire station
for local disposal options -or-
Commercially available sharps container or
Puncture-resistant plastic or metal container
  No clear or glass containers
Label container: “SHARPS” or “DO NOT RECYCLE”
Seal with heavy-duty tape
Discard with household trash- not recycling -or-
Mail back program -or-
Personal sharps needle destruction device
OhioContact medical provider, pharmacy, fire station
for local disposal options -or-
Commercially available sharps container or
Puncture-resistant plastic or metal container
  No clear or glass containers
Label container: “SHARPS” or “DO NOT RECYCLE”
Seal with heavy-duty tape
Discard with household trash- not recycling -or-
Mail back program -or-
Personal sharps needle destruction device
OklahomaCommercially available sharps container or
Puncture-resistant plastic or metal container
  No clear or glass containers
Label container: “SHARPS” or “DO NOT RECYCLE”
Seal with heavy-duty tape
Discard with household trash- not recycling
OregonDisposal of home generated sharps waste PROHIBITED
Commercially available APPROVED sharps container
Transport to collection center (pharmacy, hospital, household hazardous
waste facility) -or-
Mail-back program
PennsylvaniaCommercially available sharps container or
Puncture-resistant plastic or metal container
  No clear or glass containers
Disinfect at home w/bleach
Seal with heavy-duty tape
Label container: “SHARPS” or “DO NOT RECYCLE”
Double bag and discard with household trash
Rhode IslandCommercially available sharps container or
Puncture-resistant plastic or metal container
  No clear or glass containers
Seal with heavy-duty tape
Label container: “SHARPS” or “DO NOT RECYCLE”
Double bag and discard with household trash
South CarolinaCommercially available sharps container or
Puncture-resistant plastic or metal container
  No clear or glass containers
Seal with heavy-duty tape
Label container: “SHARPS” or “DO NOT RECYCLE”
Double bag and label with state-supplied warning sticker
Discard with household trash
State-supplied warning
stickers available for
free at 800-285-5257
South DakotaCommercially available sharps container or
Puncture-resistant plastic or metal container
  No clear or glass containers
Disinfect at home w/bleach
Seal with heavy-duty tape
Label container: “SHARPS” or “DO NOT RECYCLE”
Discard with household trash
TennesseeCommercially available sharps container or
Puncture-resistant plastic or metal container
  No clear or glass containers
Seal with heavy-duty tape
Label container: “SHARPS” or “DO NOT RECYCLE”
Discard with household trash
TexasCommercially available sharps container or
Puncture-resistant plastic or metal container
  No clear or glass containers
Seal with heavy-duty tape
Label container: “SHARPS” or “DO NOT RECYCLE”
Discard with household trash
UtahContact medical provider, pharmacy, fire station
for local disposal options -or-
Commercially available sharps container or
Puncture-resistant plastic or metal container
  No clear or glass containers
Label container: “SHARPS” or “DO NOT RECYCLE”
Seal with heavy-duty tape
Discard with household trash- not recycling -or-
Mail back program -or-
Personal sharps needle destruction device
VermontCommercially available sharps container or
Puncture-resistant plastic or metal container
  No clear or glass containers
Seal with heavy-duty tape
Label container: “SHARPS” or “DO NOT RECYCLE”
Discard with household trash
VirginiaCounty and Municipal regulations supersede
Commercially available sharps container or
Puncture-resistant plastic or metal container
  No clear or glass containers
Seal with heavy-duty tape
Label container: “SHARPS” or “DO NOT RECYCLE”
Discard with household trash
City of Salem
Fairfax County
Prince William County
WashingtonCounty and Municipal regulations supersede
Commercially available sharps container or
Puncture-resistant plastic or metal container
  No clear or glass containers
Seal with heavy-duty tape
Label container: “SHARPS” or “DO NOT RECYCLE”
Discard with household trash
King CountyKing County prohibits disposal of used sharps in residential trash
West VirginiaCommercially available sharps container or
Puncture-resistant plastic or metal container
  No clear or glass containers
Disinfect at home w/bleach
Seal with heavy-duty tape
Label container: “SHARPS” or “DO NOT RECYCLE”
Double bag and discard with household trash
WisconsinDisposal of home generated sharps waste PROHIBITED
Commercially available sharps container or puncture-resistant container
Transport to collection center (pharmacy, hospital, household hazardous
waste facility) -or-
Mail-back program
WyomingCommercially available sharps container or
Puncture-resistant plastic or metal container
  No clear or glass containers
Seal with heavy-duty tape
Label container: “SHARPS” or “DO NOT RECYCLE”
Discard with household trash

 

5 Ways to Prepare Your Facility for a Hurricane

Facilities have special waste issues that can create a unique set of challenges for management when a storm hits. With some foresight and a few easy steps, the potential for a hazardous waste incident can be averted.

Related image
Racing flood waters in Ellicott City, Maryland

The Atlantic hurricane season is upon us and September and October typically mark the most active period of the storm season.  NOAA is predicting a quieter season than usual, given the current meteorological trends, but that doesn’t mean a facility can take things for granted.  Even if the United States manages to make it through the season without landfall of a major hurricane (category 3 or greater), weak hurricanes and tropical storms can cause major problems.

For most facilities, water poses the greatest threat.  In coastal and low-lying areas, cyclonic storms pump a large volume of water that can overwhelm storm drains and water control systems.  In areas that are close to or even below sea-level, water can infiltrate an area in a number of ways.  The storm surge can raise the ocean level by several feet, often pushing sea water over barriers like dunes, jetties and sea walls.  With a gallon of water weighing about 8.35 lbs., even stagnant water puts incredible pressure on doors or windows.  For example, still water that is two feet deep puts almost 35 foot-pounds of constant pressure on a door.  If that water is flowing at about 10 mph, the force on the door multiplies to a devastating 491 foot-pounds of pressure– more than enough to take the door off its hinges.

Of course, inland areas are also susceptible to flooding.  And often the topography of inland regions include hills, mountains and bodies of water that contribute to the devastation that comes with a deluge.  Water gets directed by existing features like rivers, streets, buildings and trees, and builds up great velocity and tremendous force.  One need only look back at the devastation flood waters have caused in places like Ellicott City, MD and Columbia, SC.

So, how does a facility that produces some common hazardous waste prepare for potential flooding?

Image result for hurricane hugo
Hurricane Hugo devastated South Carolina communities 150 miles or more inland
  1. Know where your facility stands.  Contact FEMA and find out if your facility is in or near a known flood zone.  The Army Corps of Engineers works with FEMA to designate flood zones and continually update their determinations based on changes to local waterways and controls.
  2. Elevate your storage.  If your facility is in a location that might be susceptible to flooding, do not store hazardous waste in the basement.  Water will always find its way to the lowest point possible.  If storing hazardous waste on the ground floor, consider utilizing risers, pallets or shelving to elevate the containers.  Lifting cartons of spent fluorescent bulbs even just a few inches above the floor may be enough to let flood waters flow without carrying the waste off.
  3. Compact and compress your waste.  If allowed in your area, consider compacting any and all waste being held on your property.  Bales of corrugated cardboard are far less likely to be swept up by rising waters.  A drum top bulb crusher like the Bulb Eater 3® converts waste bulbs from air-tight, mercury-containing tubes capable of floating away to inert, crushed glass in steel drums—not likely to migrate with water.
  4. Arrange for pick-up.  Obviously, this option isn’t always available, but if at all possible, contact your hazardous waste handler or TerraCycle and schedule an emergency pick-up.  Getting the hazardous waste off your property is the best way to prevent any incidents.
  5. Keep it inside.  If hazardous waste is being held in a temporary structure like a shed, consider moving it to a more robust shelter.  A shipping container or trailer is good, a reinforced building is better.

The forces of nature have made folly of man’s creations on countless occasions.  Wind can pull the roof off a structure and uproot trees.  Flood waters can wash out entire neighborhoods.  But by taking some reasonable precautions, the likelihood of a facility suffering not just the damage brought by a tropical storm or hurricane, but the additional dangers of hazardous waste exposure can be mitigated easily. 

The Terrible Ten

The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) registers 25,081 total current, “significant” hazardous waste violations as of August 28, 2018 across the country. These are the ten states with the most violations registered last week.

A list of the ten U.S. states with the highest number of  significant hazardous waste violations

The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) registers 25,081 total current, “significant” hazardous waste violations as of August 28, 2018 across the country.  Significant violations can range from improper temporary storage of hazardous waste, transporting hazardous waste without a permit, illegal dumping/disposal of hazardous waste, to name a few.  Penalties can include jail time and fines in the tens of thousands of dollars.  Violators include businesses, colleges and universities, hospitals, government operations and any other non-residential waste generators.

Improper disposal of lamps

The ten states with the greatest number of current, “significant” hazardous waste violations are (totals as of Sept. 28):

10.  Alabama     680

9.  Pennsylvania     685

8.  Kentucky     765

7.  Maryland     872

6.  Louisiana     1607

5.  Texas     1733

4.  Missouri     1804

3.  Washington     2068

2.  Ohio     2244

 1.  West Virginia     3308

The ten states with the greatest number of total current hazardous waste violations are:

10.       Illinois     3235

9.         Pennsylvania     3344

8.         Ohio     3574

7.         New York     3813

6.         Louisiana     4165

5.         California     4399

4.         Washington     4707

3.         Missouri     4732

2.         Texas     4912

1.         West Virginia     5270

The EPA defines hazardous waste as a waste with properties that make it dangerous or capable of having a harmful effect on human health or the environment.  And though there are many industrial waste products that fall into this category, there are a large number of “everyday” materials that are hazardous, too.  Burned-out fluorescent bulbs, batteries (alkaline and rechargeable), lighting ballasts and thermostats are some of the common items that are also considered hazardous waste.  TerraCycle’s Regulated Waste division offers options for the safe recycling and disposal of fluorescent bulbs, batteries, ballasts, medical sharps to keep businesses of every size EPA-compliant.

And in case you were wondering, the Top Ten states with the least number of significant EPA hazardous waste violations this week are:

10.       Kansas     81

9.         Rhode Island     73

8.         Maine     62

7.         Florida     60

6.         Arizona     59

5.         Vermont     53

4.         South Dakota     51

3.         Nevada      40

2.         Minnesota      39

1.         Delaware     23

The EPA reports that one out of every ten hazardous waste violations is related to the mismanagement of universal waste like batteries, mercury-containing components and lamps.  Unmarked or improperly marked universal waste containment and improper universal waste storage are two of the three most common violations.  Utilizing an EasyPak container for smaller quantities or a BulbEater 3® for larger quantities can prevent storage issues.

EPA adds Manifesting Fees to Processing Costs

TerraCycle discusses the EPA’s updated manifesting fees going into effect September 1, 2018

EPA Logo
EPA Logo

In an effort to encourage all hazardous waste receiving facilities to adopt fully electronic manifesting, the EPA has changed the fee structure for Manifest User Fees.  Effective September 1, 2018 through September 30, 2019, hazardous waste receiving facilities will be charged based on a scale that rewards them for adopting the EPA’s fully-integrated, electronic system.  The agency will continue to accept paper manifesting, but at a higher fee.  Fluorescent lamp waste generators and other hazardous waste generators can expect to see an increase in their recycling cost as processors pass the new expense on to their customers. 

TerraCycle Regulated Waste is aware of the new fees and is working to limit the impact on responsible recyclers.  Contact your TerraCycle Regulated Waste representative directly for more information or questions.  

Household Mercury can be a Danger to Many Families

fluorescent bulb waste
Properly dispose of old lamps to prevent breakage
Compact fluorescent bulbs are the one of most inexpensive and environmentally-sound lighting options for consumers. Fluorescent bulbs are more efficient than traditional, incandescent light bulbs because they utilize less energy and last longer than comparable incandescents. While LED bulbs have decreased in price, making them a more viable option for homeowners (certain companies such as G.E. are phasing out of the fluorescent bulb business entirely), there are still millions of fluorescent bulbs in homes world-wide. The question becomes: once these bulbs burn out, what are you supposed to do with them?

The problem with fluorescent bulbs is that they contain mercury. If fluorescent bulbs are thrown in the trash they are likely to break, which is a big issue because each bulb contains at least 4 mg of mercury. This doesn’t seem so scary when you consider that a household thermometer contains 500 mg of mercury, but to put it in perspective– it is enough to contaminate two Olympic-size swimming pools.  That is why mercury can be harmful to the environment if it enters a landfill.  When the bulbs break in the natural compacting of waste on a landfill, the mercury has the opportunity to leach into the water supply.

And while it is very important to protect the environment from mercury contamination, there is danger to beware of in your own home as well. If the bulb breaks, the mercury is released as a vapor that can be inhaled and as a fine powder or liquid droplets that can settle into carpets.  If not properly cleaned up, this mercury can pose a serious health threat to children and pets.  A lot of people are aware of this danger but don’t know what to do with the bulbs, aside from not throwing them in the garbage.

So, unsure what their options are, people collect their bulbs, letting them pile up until a convenient option arises. In fact, the EPA gives the advice “Rather than disposing of them with household trash, simply store expended CFLs until easy recycling is available in your area”. Well meaning as this advice seems, these bulbs should be disposed of as quickly as possible.

While used fluorescent lamps are sitting in a box in your garage or shed, the mercury within them is still contained.  When the glass tube is intact, the mercury can be kept within them indefinitely.  The probability of you, your children or your pet accidentally coming into contact this box increases the longer the bulbs pile up.  More time sitting in storage equals greater chance of accidental breakage.  Not to mention that many of us store paints, solvents and automotive chemicals in our utility areas.  Broken bulbs could mix with other such household hazardous items in a contained area – your shed could be brewing all sorts of toxic concoctions.

Going the extra step to recycle your fluorescent bulbs correctly doesn’t have to be a huge pain. There are several convenient options available to dispose of fluorescent bulbs safely.

  • Drop off at a household hazardous waste collection area

Most municipalities and towns have designated drop-off centers where you can safely dispose of your bulbs and other household hazardous waste. And in most town this service is free or carries a very modest administrative fee. Neighbors can join forces and bring all their fluorescent bulbs over at once and split the cost if it seems too much. Your local solid waste department can provide the details on their website or by phone.

Earth 911 also provides information on recycling programs and other community programs to benefit the environment.   If you type in your zip code the site will tell you where hazardous waste drop-off areas are located and the collection schedule, if that is available in your town.

 

  • Drop off at a Home Depot or other hardware store

If the hazardous waste drop off in your town is too far, Home Depot offers recycling programs for CFLs.  Other hardware stores offer recycling for fluorescent lamps, batteries and used paint on a regional basis, as well.  Check with your local retailer for details.

Another option is to purchase an EasyPak CFL Recycling Box from TerraCycle. These are inexpensive way to keep your home safe from the potential  threat of mercury. The boxes are specially designed to meet crush-resistant standards and have an integrated lining that captures mercury, should a lamp break inside the box.   Once you buy an EasyPak, there is a prepaid return label included so you can send your fluorescent bulbs safely back to TerraCycle for recycling.

This is a great option for getting rid of fluorescent bulbs safely in your own house, or even incorporating your community into the cause by having a designated spot to put bulbs for several households. By being more aware of the potential harm fluorescent light bulbs can cause, we can all keep our homes and communities safer while saving energy and protecting the environment.

Colorado State Prison System Uses BulbEater to Recycle Lamps

Correctional facilities face a number of unique challenges unheard of in other large, multiuse properties.  Combining living space, industrial operations and heightened security needs puts lighting at a priority.  Burned-out fluorescent lamps are not just a nuisance but can be a life-threatening situation.  For that reason, correctional facility managers must stay ahead of lamp replacement.  Most will seek to replace lamps before the end of their practical lifecycle which can often result in the need to dispose of hundreds, if not thousands of lamps at a time.

The EPA requires that correctional facilities recycle all spent mercury-containing lamps.  With linear and U-bend fluorescent lamps in such great numbers at these facilities, it is important to understand how to remain compliant.  Failure to do so can result in violations and fines that could have been easily prevented.

“Correctional facilities are no different than any other non-residential fluorescent lamp user to the EPA,” explains Joe Day, Account Manager at TerraCycle Regulated Waste.  “The rules governing hazardous waste apply, just the same.  They must recycle all fluorescent lamps, as well as any other mercury-containing lamps.”

A facility will fall into one of three waste generator categories, based on the amount of total hazardous waste they generate per month.

  • Very Small Quantity Generators (VSQGs) generate 100 kilograms or less per month of hazardous waste or one kilogram or less per month of acutely hazardous waste.
  • Small Quantity Generators (SQGs) generate more than 100 kilograms, but less than 1,000 kilograms of hazardous waste per month.
  • Large Quantity Generators (LQGs) generate 1,000 kilograms per month or more of hazardous waste or more than one kilogram per month of acutely hazardous waste.

The materials that are considered ‘hazardous waste’ include fluorescent and mercury-containing lamps, paint, insecticides and fertilizers, batteries, and cleaning supplies.  Keeping these waste products in storage, on-site until pick up by a registered hazardous waste hauler is not uncommon, but must follow the federal guidelines.

For fluorescent lamps, that means storing in a way that prevents accidental breakage of the lamps and potential contamination by the release of the mercury contained in the lamps.  To achieve this, some larger facilities use a drum-top lamp crusher like the Bulb Eater 3®.  A lamp crusher is a device that crushes the glass tube of the fluorescent lamp in a vacuum system that captures the mercury before it can be released into the atmosphere.  The crushing of the lamps compacts the waste volume by as much as 80%, making storage much more manageable.  With a capacity of approximately 1350 T8 fluorescent lamps per 55-gallon steel drum, storage space is well controlled by lamp crushing.

BulbEater3
BulbEater 3 with U-Bend/CFL chute attachment

“Our combined efforts will truly make a difference not only with complying with local regulations, but also with being good stewards for the environment.”  States Dave Bechtle, Colorado Department of Corrections.  Colorado purchased Bulb Eater 3® units in 2017 for all nine state penitentiaries.

For specialty lighting, like safety-sealed fluorescent lamps, drum-top bulb crushing is not appropriate.  To properly dispose of these types of lamps, a facility can purchase EasyPak self-sealing containers or PalletPak containers for larger quantities.  It is very important to note that the EPA requires that any spent lamps being stored at a facility until shipping is able to be efficiently facilitated must be kept in containers that prevent the accidental breakage and can capture any mercury, should there be accidental release.  Corrugated boxes or fiber drums used as storage must either be lined with plastic or contain an integrated seal, like EasyPak boxes.

Drum-top crushing is not approved in all states, so it is important to speak to a lamp recycling specialist to determine the best practices in your region.  Understanding how many lamps per month or year a facility is generating will make it easy to create a recycling plan that fulfills EPA compliance standards and meets the needs of the property—both in safety and security.