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Alkaline Batteries – Just Throw them in the Garbage!

March 31st, 2011 30 comments

We used to think it was a shame to let any recyclable household item go into the waste bin, so we were surprised to learn that it’s not necessary to recycle alkaline batteries.

Batteries can be categorized as either single-use (primary cell) batteries or rechargeable (secondary cell) batteries. Each type requires special instructions to ensure it’s properly recycled (or discarded). The majority of consumer batteries for household use fall within these types:

  • Alkaline
  • Zinc-carbon
  • Button cell (lithium manganese or silver oxide)
  • Lithium (Li-ion)
  • Nickel-cadmium (NiCd)
  • Nickel metal hydride (NiMH)
  • Lead-based (automotive and non-automotive)

It turns out that some battery manufacturers, like Duracell and Energizer, have eliminated all of the added mercury from its alkaline batteries, so they can now be safely discarded along with normal household waste. The other components of the batteries — steel, zinc and manganese — don’t pose health or environmental risks in the solid waste stream, according to Duracell, and those metals are difficult to recover from batteries.

We learned this by reading a blog written by an environmentally minded person named Will Taft — willtaft.com — who did some research into the proper disposal of alkaline batteries. He even found this comment from the Consumer Electronics Association (CEA):

“Alkaline batteries are not recyclable. They’ll just be thrown out in a landfill, or at the most a hazardous waste landfill.”

Rechargeable batteries are a different story, though — they can contain mercury, cadmium, lead, and lithium, and therefore should be recycled. Car batteries and other lead-based batteries should also be recycled.

Alkaline batteries have several advantages: they last for a long time, perform well at high and low temperatures and have a long storage life. They can be stored at room temperature for two years and retain 90 percent of their original capacities.

It’s important to handle them properly, however. The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) warns that if potassium hydroxide, which is contained within the cells of alkaline batteries, leaks out, it can cause chemical burns on skin or in your eyes.

And, Duracell warns people never to dispose of alkaline batteries by fire, because they could explode. Duracell also says not to dispose of large amounts of alkaline batteries together. Used batteries are often not completely “dead,” and grouping them can bring these “live” batteries into contact with one another, creating safety risks.

Most sources say that more than 150,000 tons of single-use batteries are tossed into landfills each year. Send your alkaline batteries to ecycler HQ and we’ll take action to properly dispose of the batteries.

Buy rechargeable batteries!

 

 

Categories: materials, recycle Tags: ,

Cash for Cans, A Chicago Perspective

February 18th, 2011 1 comment

Did you know that it really does pay to recycle? The pop cans and old pipes laying around the house have value, and turning those items into cash is easy — if you know where to look.

The easiest items to cash in are those made from aluminum, such as beverage cans, foil and tins used for baking. Most buy-back centers in the area accept aluminum and pay an average of $0.50 per pound for it.

However, most places don’t list the prices they pay on their websites; you have to call for quotes. It pays to save up recyclables until you have a large amount to drop off. The more aluminum cans, for example, the more you’ll get for them.

A-1 Recycling, of Fox Lake, pays $0.55 per pound for aluminum cans, but for deposits of more than 25 pounds, they pay $0.57 per pound.

Many buy-back centers still don’t pay for plastic bottles and newspapers, but there are other household items people don’t typically set out in their recycling bins that can be redeemed for cash. Batteries and copper wire, for example, can be recycled for money. American Metals Company in Chicago pays $3 for car batteries while A-1 Recycling pays $2.25 for every pound of copper house wire.

For people who have batteries they wish to discard and just want to dispose of them properly but don’t care about making money from them, the city of Chicago has a battery collection program in which alkaline and rechargeable batteries — but not lead-acid car batteries — can be deposited at any Chicago Public Library or Walgreens Drug Store in the city.

When it comes to copper, different centers quote different prices, depending on the type of copper, be it wire or tubing, and whether it is soldered or not. Most places say they need to see the copper and won’t provide price quotes over the phone.

The easiest way to find drop-off centers in Chicago is to visit earth911.com, which requires people to input both their zip code and the type of recyclables they have in order to find the listing of buy-back centers. There is also a web page on the Chicago Recycling Coalition — http://www.chicagorecycling.org/sites.htm — which lists buy-back centers for all types of recyclables. The information isn’t obvious from the home page, but if you search for recyclables by type, you can find a link that lists the centers where the items can be taken. It also has an interactive map showing the locations of all of the city recycling centers.

Categories: ecycler, materials Tags:

Saving Oysters and the Environment

January 24th, 2011 No comments

We, at ecycler, are always interested in learning about new things that can be recycled, but we had no idea that oyster shells could be reused until we came across an interesting article on TreeHugger.com.

The Oyster Recovery Partnership Shell Recycling Alliance collects oyster shells from restaurants and returns them to the Chesapeake Bay, where new oysters inhabit them.

According to National Geographic, “without some sort of base, be it shells, stones, or reef balls, similar to what are used to help restore coral reefs, the adult oysters sink into the muddy river bottom and die.”

Restoring oyster habitat is good for the environment. According to the Tree Hugger article, oysters serve as natural water filters and as natural coastal buffers that help protect shorelines.

The year-old Oyster Recovery Partnership Shell Recycling Alliance collects used shells from about 50 restaurants in the Maryland-Virgina-DC area. The group has already collected almost two million oyster shells.

We built ecycler.com with flexibility in mind–this gives us the ability to quickly add new materials and add them to specific regions (or the entire US and Canada). For example, we’ve recently added composting to one state–Pennsylvania–as an assessment of its viability.

If you have suggestions, or have a supply of oyster shells, please feel free to contact us.

Categories: materials, recycle Tags:

ecycler Wiki

January 4th, 2011 No comments

Utilizing wikis, which are web sites that allow others to edit the content, is important for businesses.

The most well known wiki is Wikipedia, which contains information on companies and people and just about everything else. Because Wikipedia entries are often the first things that show up when people conduct an online search for a well-known person or business, the content is viewed widely by people and is often unquestioned. So for a business that already is featured on Wikipedia, it’s important to monitor the information that’s been posted, correct anything that’s wrong and update it frequently, so that it’s fresh.

ecycler’s entry in Wikipediahttp://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/ecycler

People can also create their own wikis, like we did for ecycler. By creating your own wiki you can populate it with wiki entries that are specific to your company or project.

For example, we created a wiki entry for the Fairfield Challenge: http://wiki.ecycler.com/wiki/index.php/Fairfield_Challenge.

It’s important to be in the venues where your customers are congregating, so blogging and participating in forums like wikis are good places to interact with and communicate to the people using your product or service.

Categories: achievements, ecycler Tags:

‘Tis the Season to Recycle

December 17th, 2010 No comments

Decking the halls with boughs and holly isn’t the only way to be green during the holidays.

Here are ten ways to make your holiday festivities environmentally friendly:

  1. Use an artificial Christmas tree, so long as it’s not made with PVC, or polyvinyl chloride.
  2. If you can’t resist the smell of fresh pine, buy a potted tree and plant it outside afterward or mulch your tree after the holidays (many cities will collect trees and mulch them for residents).
  3. Wrap gifts in newspaper or other papers already around the house.
  4. Set your holiday lights to a timer so that you don’t accidentally leave them on all night.
  5. Buy LED holiday lights.
  6. Compost your holiday meal scraps.
  7. In lieu of giving traditional gifts, make a donation to your favorite environmental organization in the recipient’s name.
  8. Buy holiday cards made with recycled paper.
  9. Use cranberries, fruits, nuts and popcorn to trim trees and decorate the mantel — then eat them after the holidays.
  10. Make your own menorah out of just about any household item and use organic beeswax candles.

Happy Holidays from ecycler.com!

Thanks to http://eco2o.com/ for the use of their image.
Categories: recycle Tags: ,

Make Black Friday Green

November 25th, 2010 No comments

Are you dreaming of a green Christmas? Holiday shopping can be festive and environmentally friendly, with these ten green gift ideas:

  1. Keep someone warm with a Patagonia fleece jacket, made with recycled soda bottles.
  2. For the budding environmentalist on your list, Garnet Hill sells an “eco-lover’s” dollhouse, complete with a recycling bin, solar panels, wind turbines and a garden fertilized by compost.
  3. Purchase a service on Amazon or iTunes to let someone download movies or episodes of their favorite TV shows – this eliminates the shipping and packaging associated with movies and boxed DVD sets.
  4. For the cook in your family, buy Cuisinart’s line of “Greenware” pots and pans made with a non-stick ceramic surface instead of Teflon.
  5. For the dog-lover among you, Olive Super Poop Bags are a way to clean up after Spot without the guilt. Made from vegetable oil and corn starch, the bags are biodegradable.
  6. Home decorators might like the flip-flop doormat that Gaiam sells, made from repurposed sandals.
  7. If you’re handy, make your own gifts using household items.
  8. Purchase an animal, such as a goat or llama, for a family that could use its milk or fur, through Heifer International.
  9. Bake treats for friends and family.
  10. When in doubt, regift!

Happy Holidays from ecycler.com!

Categories: ecycler, recycle Tags: ,

Ten Ways to Make your Thanksgiving Green

November 24th, 2010 No comments

Happy Thanksgiving!

We all have a lot to celebrate–even with today’s economy. We, at ecycler, have put together ten ways to be green and giveback to the environment.

Don’t travel– Instead of driving or flying somewhere this Thanksgiving, stay close to home. Not only will forgoing travel save your sanity, it will also save some carbon.

Carpool or use mass transit – If you’re not hosting dinner and you have to get to someone else’s home, ride with friends or relatives or take public transportation.

Buy natural and local – Buy free range turkey and organic produce for your Thanksgiving feast. If you can buy ingredients from a farmer’s market or a turkey from a local farm, even better – the fewer miles products travel to your table, the better.

Cook green – Roast your turkey in a reusable roasting pan. If you must use a foil pan, be sure to recycle it.

Dine by candlelight – It sets an intimate mood for your meal and saves electricity. And you can even use beeswax or soy-based candles, rather than paraffin candles, which are made from petroleum.

Use the good china – As tempting as it may be to use paper plates and plastic cutlery in order to avoid doing dishes, Thanksgiving is the time to bring out the china. And use cloth napkins rather than paper.

Give thanks – While you’re going around the table discussing what you’re thankful for this holiday, have each family member mention what he or she can do to be green.

Recycle – Toss all cans and bottles used during dinner into the recycling bin. Then give them away on ecycler.com!

Compost – Don’t throw the scraps in the trash – compost them!

Re-use
– Remember that the best part of Thanksgiving is the leftovers! Making turkey sandwiches and soup for the next few days saves on grocery bills and trips to the store.

This and all the Crush that Can episode may be viewed here: CrushthatCan.com. Crush that Can is a series of videos–short, humorous videos to demonstrate different ways to decrease the size of aluminum cans in order to prepare them for recycling in non-bottle bill states.

Happy Thanksgiving from ecycler.com!

Categories: ecycler, event Tags: ,

Top-20 Ways to Make your Business Greener

November 13th, 2010 No comments

Help us celebrate America Recycles Day!

Businesses have an opportunity to offer their customers more than just a product or service – by making green thinking part of their culture, their customers gain peace of mind knowing that concern for the environment is part of the product. Many large companies have sustainability programs that involve working only with suppliers that meet their environmental standards, reducing their carbon footprint by operating fully packed trucks and making fewer deliveries and using alternative sources of energy to fuel their plants. But there are much smaller, everyday ways that offices can reduce waste and involve all employees in making the workspace more environmentally friendly.

We, at ecycler offer these top-20 ways to make your business greener:

  1. Make green thinking part of your corporate culture
  2. Encourage your employees to recycle their beverage cans, newspapers, cardboard and other office waste using ecycler.com and set up recycling bins in your office or warehouse
  3. Recycle other office products that you might not traditionally think can be recycled, such as electronics, batteries, scrap metal and phone books
  4. Use hybrid or electric delivery trucks
  5. Run diesel trucks on B100 or B10 biodiesel (100% biodiesel is referred to as B100)
  6. Use high-efficiency light bulbs in your office (watch for LED bulbs in 2011)
  7. Encourage employees to use alternative transportation to get to work, either by subsidizing bus or train passes; creating car pools or providing incentives for those who bike or walk to work
  8. Eliminate or cut down on junk mail
  9. Provide coffee cups that are re-useable; napkins and other kitchen products that are made with recycled items and that can be recycled
  10. Install hand dryers in your restrooms instead of paper towels
  11. Encourage employees not to print out e-mails, reports and other documents unless absolutely necessary
  12. Install motion-detector lights in areas like the bathroom and kitchen, in order to save electricity
  13. Host monthly clean-up days in which employees recycle items they no longer need in their workspace
  14. Encourage employees to turn off their computers and other electronics before they leave the office for the evening
  15. Provide a water cooler and discourage employees from bringing bottled water to work
  16. Stock the printer and fax machine with recycled paper
  17. Reorder office supplies only when needed rather than keeping extra pens, paper and other supplies on hand, as that encourages employees to take more items than they need
  18. Install energy-efficient refrigerators and dish washers in the breakroom
  19. Have employees deposit their extra change in a bowl and at the end of six months, donate the loose change to an environmental charity
  20. Ask the cleaning crew to use non-toxic cleaning supplies

Doing any or all of these things will help businesses do their part to help the environment. Businesses and residents alike can use ecycler.com to handle many of their recycling needs.

Register as an ecycler discarder or collector today!

Thanks to http://www.elephantjournal.com for the use of their image.

Have a Green Halloween

October 31st, 2010 No comments

When you’re celebrating Halloween today, remember the three R’s: reduce, reuse and recycle.

Here are some tricks to making your Halloween a treat for the environment:

When you’re done enjoying your caramel apples and jack-o-lanterns, add the apple cores and pumpkins to your compost pile. Some cities will pick up pumpkins on yard waste collection days (check with yours to see if they compost). If you compost it yourself, remove candles before cutting up the pumpkin and mixing it into the pile.

Use a reusable shopping bag to collect your Halloween candy.

Get in the spirit of the night and reduce the amount of lights in your house, using candles or only minimal lighting.

Buy candy that comes in the least amount of packaging – or, instead of candy, give away items that are fully consumable, such as apples.

Remember to check labels to see if your candy wrappers can be recycled.

Pack up your decorations and reuse them again next year.

Categories: ecycler, event Tags: ,

How do I Recycle thee in Bins, Let me Count the Ways

September 26th, 2010 1 comment

The fourth installment in our ecycler series on Recycle Bins and their set-up: recycle bin materials.

Recycle Bin Materials

Recyclables can be placed in many kinds of bins. There are high-quality stainless steel receptacles, such as those found in commercial spaces and public transit depots. There are bins found in public parks, offices and outside municipal buildings. There are blue ones, green ones, yellow one, red ones and white ones.

Some are made of corrugated plastic, others of formed plastic. Some have separate compartments for different kinds of recyclable items such as aluminum cans, newspaper and bottles. Others are simple bins, like the kinds many cities give to homeowners, in which all recyclables are tossed.

Occasionally, bins are fashioned from wood and may include a lock to prevent animals (bears) from making a mess.

Office paper is usually placed in blue trash-can like bins that a company picks up and removes for shredding.

The type of materials from which a recycle bin is made is determined by the type of environment in which the bin is to be placed.

Whatever the kind of bin a home, office or public facility uses, the important thing is to encourage recycling by placing a container, clearly marked with a recycling symbol, out for people to see in high-traffic areas.

The Lesson

  • Bottles and cans should be emptied before placing them in the recycle bin
  • Place a trash can near to the recycle bin for convenient disposal of trash in the appropriate receptacle and recyclables in their bin
  • Bins should have liners
  • Apply short and descriptive labels and signage to and around the bins
  • Right materials for right situation