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.

Illegal disposal of fluorescent lamps can be a costly mistake

Fluorescent lamps
Fluorescent lamps illegally dumped

In 1976, the federal government passed the Resource Conservation and Recovery Act (RCRA).  The act has been amended several times, giving the EPA definitions and guidelines that provide them the ability to take action against facilities and businesses that fail to meet regulations for the health and safety of people and the environment.  An important subsection of the RCRA regulations addresses the handling of waste, and more specifically, regulated waste.

According to EPA records, over the last two years hundreds of companies and facilities have been fined for failing to comply with the EPA’s rules on the handling of universal waste.  Fines typically range from $3,000 to $9,000, but some have been recorded as high as tens of thousands for substantial violators. A check of the inspection records for several states and regions indicates that cited violators were not limited to large universal waste producers or any specific industry.  From small, public schools to major corporations, any facility that utilizes fluorescent lighting can find themselves in trouble if their universal waste is not properly managed.

According to the Cornell Law School, the EPA has the authority to inspect and levy fines for failure to properly handle hazardous waste under Code of Federal Regulations (40 CFR Part 273, Subpart A – General).  Fluorescent lamps, batteries, pesticides and mercury-containing equipment are specifically defined as “Universal Waste” by the EPA, and are subject to heightened scrutiny because of the potential danger to the environment when not properly disposed of or recycled.

For example according to the EPA’s Enforcement and Compliance History Online (ECHO) website, two universities in the Upstate region of South Carolina were recently fined in excess of $12,000 combined for RCRA violations.  A retail chain store in Kentucky was fined $3,750 by their state DEP when the federal EPA recorded the violation.  Additionally, the management team at that Kentucky store was required to attend an Enforcement Conference with the EPA.  But perhaps the most notable financial penalty for improper disposal of hazardous and universal waste in the last year is the $27.84 Million Home Depot agreed to pay to California.

Fortunately, fines and citations are easily preventable, if you work with a registered, reputable hazardous waste handler.  A certified universal waste recycler can provide facility management with a clear record of their waste’s proper handling and will provide a Certificate of Recycling Compliance for future reference.  Having an understanding of your recycler’s downstream procedures can be the difference between an uneventful inspection and a disciplinary action.

The most recent federal budget slashes the EPA funding by 23%, causing a large reduction in staff.  This might mean more pressure on inspectors to find actionable violations.  With less direct budgetary funding, it could also mean the EPA will be looking to increase the financial impact of fines and violations to help defray the cost of other important programs.  It becomes all the more important for a business or facility to have the necessary documentation of compliance.

EasyPak
TerraCycle EasyPak fluorescent lamp recycling box

 

Depending on the amount of universal waste a facility is producing, there are good options for EPA-compliance.  A smaller facility that isn’t producing much hazardous waste, say 100 kilograms (220 lbs.) or less a month, is considered a very small quantity generator (VSQG).  Setting up a box and store program for their fluorescent lamps, like an EasyPakTM box, will most likely be enough to remain compliant.

A mid-sized or larger facility could fall into either the small quantity generator (SQG) or large quantity generator (LQG) category.  Depending on a number of factors, such as the number of waste lamps generated each month and available storage space, a facility might consider a drum-top bulb crusher like the BulbEater3L® for their compliance needs (check local regulations for approval).  For very large quantities of waste lamps, a facility can set up a bulk pick-up to clear their property of potentially hazardous lamps.

The key is to get ahead of the violations before the EPA comes to inspect a facility.  No manager wants to have to spend money on a fine, plus find themselves under greater scrutiny when a situation is easily preventable.  The solutions cost a fraction of the fines the EPA can levy and prevent the embarrassment of citation.

TerraCycle Regulated Waste Announces Addition of Medwaste Recycling

TRENTON, N.J., (August 8, 2018) – Medical waste (in the form of used sharps) has become the latest difficult-to-recycle recycling program at TerraCycle, as the company continues to add waste streams to its product list.  Utilizing EPA-approved sterilization technology, the company has developed a system that provides contaminant exposure protection and high-efficiency material recovery.

The regulated waste division of TerraCycle has created a sharps container and shipping carton system available in a variety of sizes.  The puncture-resistant sharps containers are approved for use by both UPS and the US Postal Service when shipped within the corresponding carton.  Sizes range from a 1.4-quart container for home use to a commercial 28-gallon system.  Like its Zero Waste Box programs, the medwaste boxes are postage-prepaid—the customer simply fills the sharps container, boxes it and calls UPS or USPS for a pickup.

Recycle the materials from used sharps safely and securely.

“This is an exciting addition to the regulated waste offerings at TerraCycle,” explains Bobby Farris, General Manager of TerraCycle Regulated Waste, “We’re providing a real alternative to incineration for medwaste customers who want to see the materials recycled.”

According to the World Health Organization, as much as 90% of all medical waste is incinerated, even though only 15% of it is actually considered biologically hazardous.  Originally, it was thought that destroying medical waste through incineration destroyed the known pathogens, but more recent science suggests the process exposes the environment to potential contaminants in the form of microscopic particulate emitted in the process exhaust.  Furthermore, the resulting ash and byproducts are not easily recouped for recycling or reuse and are often landfilled.

To protect the population and environment, the EPA has begun to promote the use of “Alternative Treatment and Disposal Technologies for Medical Waste.”   By utilizing commercial steam disinfection (autoclave) of medical waste and then processing the sharps to separate metals, plastics and glass, TerraCycle is able to reclaim valuable materials and divert waste from the landfill.  The system provides better, more measurable elimination of biohazards and lessens the linear use of resources.

Universal Waste and the EPA: How Can Your Business Follow the Law?

Universal Waste Management

Are you sure your business is following all the laws and regulations regarding the disposal and recycling of universal waste? The EPA has always tried to inform businesses and business owners about the laws, reasoning, and methods of proper universal waste management. However, recently they’ve made even better efforts to make sure that businesses understand everything there is to know about universal waste management. At AirCycle, we take these important regulations seriously and know that our universal waste recycling programs meet all expectations set by the EPA and will make your recycling plan easier and more efficient.

AirCycle has been actively involved in making sure that our methods of universal waste management, including bulb recycling, recycling by mail, bulk pickups, and compact recycling methods, are fine-tuned to meet your standards of ease and the EPA’s standard of effectiveness. Overall, our record is stellar when it comes to our sustainability impact. We’ve kept over 5 million acres of oxygen levels pure, recycled over 250 thousand grams of mercury, 2.5 million pounds of batteries, and 7 million pounds of ballasts. When evaluating your recycling plan to see if it fits the regulations set by the EPA, here are a few things you need to know:

1. What materials can be classified as universal waste?
It all depends on your state. Some of the general items classified under the EPA regulatory history of universal waste management includes batteries, pesticides, thermostats, lamps, and mercury-containing equipment. This being said, every state can differ on what exactly is defined by the term universal waste. To make absolutely certain that your business recognizes every universal waste that is produced and needs recycling, check your state’s complete list of what could be classified as universal waste.

2. Who can transport universal waste?
Universal waste can be transported by members of the business who produced it or by a third-party. The caveat here, however, is that the person who transports such waste, which could be hazardous, has to follow the Subpart D guidelines of the federal standards for universal waste management. At AirCycle, we have programs to make this part easier than if you were to do it yourself. With our bulk pickups and EasyPak total management programs, we can make the recycling fast and easy. Just collect and/or send us your waste, and we’ll handle all the rest!

3. Can’t I just toss my used bulbs in the landfill?
The answer is a stiff “no” in the eyes of the EPA and in terms of environmental and health protection. Right now, the most efficient bulbs on the market utilize mercury to lower energy use and reduce the amount of mercury that is released from other power plants. While using these bulbs greatly reduces the amount of mercury produced by power plants and the making of other bulbs, simply throwing out your fluorescent bulbs can result in serious health risks and damage the environment.

This is where our state-of-the-art Bulb Eaters® come in handy. Our Bulb Eater 3® and our new Bulb Eater 3L® machines offer great benefits when it comes to the handling and safe disposable of fluorescent lightbulbs. Using the Bulb Eater® machines allows your business to save up to 50% on recycling costs, maximize storage space by up to 80%, and reduce recycling labor by 20 hours per 1,000 lamps crushed. EPA studies have shown that self-transportation, or even third-party transportation, by way of boxing bulbs can cause a 2-3% accidental breakage rate, raising the liability associated with your recycling program. With our recycling advice and programs, we’ll be able to lower your emission levels down to just .001%. Our testimonials speak for themselves, as many have said the purchase of the Bulb Eater 3® has made their experiences with recycling universal waste easier, more cost effective, and a great addition to their environmental protection programs.

AirCycle strives to make your life easier when it comes to universal waste management. Following the law and saving money, of course, already sounds like a great plan for your business. However, the best part of hiring us to fulfill your universal waste needs is the positive impact your business will be making upon the environment for years to come. AirCycle has so many options when it comes to recycling universal waste, and any of them can fit your needs as a business. Contact us today to find out what steps you can take to follow the law, save money, and prevent a damaging footprint on the planet.

Air Cycle Highlights Many Accomplishments This Year

Did you know that the national lamp recycling rate in the commercial and industrial sectors is at only 30%? At Air Cycle, we make it our goal to provide easy, time-saving, and affordable solutions for corporate waste recycling to help increase those recycling numbers. In 2017, we were able to expand our reach and continue to help our customers. Below are a few of things that we accomplished in 2017 that will work to increase national recycling rates:

New Product Launch

Bulb Eater 3LThis year, Air Cycle released a new addition into our bulb crusher family of products: The Bulb Eater 3L (BE3L). With a more compact size, the BE3L packs the same powerful technology that our Bulb Eater users rave about. This product makes it easier for businesses to be environmentally conscious while saving time, money and space!

The Bulb Eater 3L has many of the features of the award-winning Bulb Eater® 3, but is offered at a reduced cost and is the perfect solution for those wanting to save money while reducing labor and recycling costs.

Expanding services to the UK

new UK DistributorYou may remember hearing about our trip across the pond recently. 2017 brought on new products and also new expansions. Air Cycle has now partnered with JARSHIRE Waste & Recycling to provide businesses in the UK with our top of the line recycling products and services.

To date, Air Cycle’s simple, sustainable solutions are available in nine (9) countries across the globe. To learn more about our international programs or find out if our services are available in your country, visit us online.

Continued Focus on Waste Reduction Worldwide

Air Cycle continues to add daily to its worldwide focus of universal waste reduction totals more than ever! Currently, we are proud to share the following savings to our environment:
• 5,052,257 acres of water kept pure
• 252,613 grams of hazardous mercury recycled
• 2,565,296 lbs of batteries recycled
• 7,300,321 lbs of ballasts recycled

As we embark on a new year, Air Cycle looks forward to increasing those numbers and making more of an impact helping other companies reach their sustainability goals.

TerraCycle

TerracycleOur biggest news of the year is that we have proudly joined forces with TerraCycle! Headquartered in Trenton, NJ, TerraCycle is the global leader in collecting and repurposing hard-to-recycle waste. Operating in over 20 countries, engaging over 60 million people, and recycling billions of pieces of waste through various innovative platforms, TerraCycle is focused on Eliminating the Idea of Waste®

Through the acquisition of the Air Cycle assets, TerraCycle makes its entry into the universal waste market—the company’s first “regulated” waste market. We are excited to begin this new venture with TerraCycle and provide our clients with new recycling solutions!

We thank each and every one of our clients for their continued support and shared goals of improving the efficiencies of recycling programs in their organizations. To learn how you can save time, money, and valuable storage space with our services in 2018, contact us!