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When In Doubt, Throw Out Safely—Part 3

2010 February 4

For the last three weeks, I’ve been having a greenversation with my colleagues in the blogosphere on the disposal of cadmium/lead-laced toy jewelry. I was glad to see the exchange that has developed over time. The comments have compelled me to write a third blog on this issue. I’m very happy to report that since we started this conversation on the toxic toy jewelry and metal trinkets, CPSC has actually recalled some items due to their cadmium and lead content. Those are great news! Just helping to get the word out to parents so they will keep these toxic items away from their children.

However, this greenversation points to the need to further address the proper disposal of other household items that may have hazardous content—batteries, electronics, even cell phones, to name a few. The title of my blogs, “When in doubt, throw it out,” was not meant as a blanket statement for all solid waste management. There are guidelines for the proper disposal and recycling of items with hazardous waste. So, I recommend that you visit the following Web pages to obtain additional information on the important issues you mentioned so we can all work to protect the environment where we live, work, learn and play.

Here are some useful Websites for the disposal and recycling of the following products:
batteries; mercury-containing light bulb recycling; electronics; cell phones; used oil; and general household hazardous waste.

Thank you for your input. Keep it coming.

About the author: Lina Younes has been working for EPA since 2002 and chairs EPA’s Multilingual Communications Task Force. Prior to joining EPA, she was the Washington bureau chief for two Puerto Rican newspapers and she has worked for several government agencies.

Editor's Note: The opinions expressed in Greenversations are those of the author. They do not reflect EPA policy, endorsement, or action, and EPA does not verify the accuracy or science of the contents of the blog.

12 Responses leave one →
  1. Al Bannet permalink
    February 4, 2010

    I have several worn out electrical devices and nowhere to recycle them. So, they sit here taking up space, because I refuse to simply dump them;
    maybe next year recycling might catch up with consumer buy-and trash? HA !

  2. Michael E. Bailey permalink
    February 4, 2010

    This is a very important issue here in California because it is illegal to put household batteries or electronic waste in recycling containers or the regular trash. Part of the state law that regulates electronic waste recycling creates a recycling fee that consumers pay each time they buy an electronic product and this goes to pay for the recycling so that a consumer can take electronic waste to any electronics store and turn it in free of charge. We also have electronic waste roundups at Mission Viejo City Hall (one will happen later this month and one did happen in January) that will collect electronic waste free of charge for recycling including cables and ink and toner cartiedges. Household battery collection stations are at every city facility including the library and the city hall lobby for battery recycling. The spike in hazardous materials going into childrens toys coming from overseas was noticed in 2008 when Congress passed and the President signed the Consumer Product Safety Modernization Act to address the spike. This bill limits the amount of lead allowed in childrens products and phases in the limitation over 2 years. The bill was signed on August 14, 2008. Best wishes, Michael E. Bailey.

  3. Roxanne Long permalink
    February 5, 2010

    I am new to the waste/recycling arena and I need to find “Best Standards” for Recycling/Waste Trucks, and How to Run a Special Events to help Residents dispose of items they can’t throw into the normal waste stream.

    Can you help or point me in the right direction?

    Thanks!

    Roxanne

  4. l Al Bannet permalink
    February 5, 2010

    Good for California, but those should also be federal mandates and commonplace procedures around the nation and the World, but by the time they get around to it, the biosphere may have become too toxic for life to exist.

  5. David Mc permalink
    February 5, 2010

    In Michigan we have deposits of pop bottles. Why not on batteries? They’re much more hazardous, and I actually see them dropped in parking lots and parks. There is no fee if you bring the old ones in.

  6. Lina-EPA permalink*
    February 5, 2010

    Roxanne,
    Many recycling guidelines are managed at the municipal level. Nonetheless, here are some links that might provide some useful information:
    http://www.epa.gov/osw/conserve/index.htm
    http://www.epa.gov/osw/rcc/index.htm
    http://www.epa.gov/osw/partnerships/index.htm

    I highly recommend th following EPA publication which provides some guidance to community groups on organizing recycling events:
    http://www.epa.gov/epawaste/wycd/downloads/cbo-guide.pdf
    Let me know what you think.

  7. Dick Hogan permalink
    February 5, 2010

    Thanks Lina for your pleasant persistence, that gets even more people cooperating with the essence of greenversations. The atmosphere is moving in the right direction because your informed approach as opposed to bringing on the “enforcement” approach rewards meaningless bloggers who resist without considering how easily the “pleasant, informed and persistent” works. It is taking hold in LA with volunter groups cleaning up the river, helping seniors get their out-dated medicines to the correct depository and the cities have chimed in with meaningful assists to keep it and similar waste from hurting our kids and their environment. You deserve much more but let me say, A BIG THANKs to LINA!

  8. Lina-EPA permalink*
    February 5, 2010

    Mr. Hogan:
    Thank you for your kind words. I truly enjoy the opportunity to engage people in the blogsphere on environmental issues. Everyone can help make a difference at home, in our communities and beyond. I appreciate your comments. Please keep this greenversation going.

  9. Al Bannet permalink
    February 6, 2010

    Roxanne,

    There is no “normal waste stream”. The growing amount of waste and garbage produced by our growing population is so enormous that the Earth cannot safely absorb it. The only workable solution is to practice 100% safe recycling of all waste and garbage, period; but I am afraid this hard lesson may be learned too late to save our endangered biosphere, and us humans.

  10. Tracy Phillips permalink
    February 11, 2010

    Dear Lina,

    Thank you for this thread. Education will be critical to this fight for a cleaner world. It would be nice if toxic products weren’t for sale in the first place; and if the DOE could fund clean energy rather than nuclear waste; and if people would stop buying the toxic products for sale. Until then, keep up the good work trying to educate people. I think a brochure would be nice too. Maybe some people in their communities could print it from this site and share it, just to help spread the word.

    Sincerely,
    Tracy

  11. Lina-EPA permalink*
    February 11, 2010

    Thanks, Tracy
    Ideally, it would be nice if these toxic products were never sold. I agree. Will continue to spread the word to increase environmental awareness. Keep participating in our greenversation.

  12. November 3, 2010

    We can’t live without toxic things in our lives. Many naturally occurring elements and food substances are toxic if abused. The answer really is more in education and balance.

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