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

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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.

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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.