Archive | March, 2014

Four reasons to reduce idling

idlefreezoneiconSpring has been slow to arrive, and in colder weather you might be tempted to warm up your vehicle for several minutes in the morning or leave the engine running when you pick up the kids after work.

But wait a second! Our individual actions add up and can improve or worsen the region’s air quality. Here are some things to consider before you start your engine.

  • One minute of idling produces more pollution than one minute of driving. The best way to warm up your car is to drive it. An idling engine isn’t operating at its peak temperature, which means idling isn’t an efficient way to warm up your vehicle, even in cold weather. Your car needs no more than 30 seconds to fully circulate oil on days when the temperatures fall below freezing.
  • Vehicle emissions affect your health. Studies have linked various types of vehicle emissions to asthma symptoms, cardiopulmonary disease, lung cancer and other causes of death. Children are even more vulnerable to air pollution than adults because they breathe more air per pound of body weight and their respiratory defenses are not fully developed.
  • You risk getting a ticket — or worse, having your vehicle stolen. Approximately one out of every five cars stolen in Kansas City, Mo., was idling, and this year Overland Park also saw an increase in thefts specifically linked to idling. Check out this video from the Kansas City, Mo., Police Department explaining why law enforcement can ticket you if you idle your vehicle.
  • “Voluntarily” idling is a waste of gas. Remember: when idling, you get 0 mpg! Idling for more than 10 seconds burns more fuel than stopping and restarting your engine. Each day, Americans waste approximately 3.8 million gallons of gasoline by idling their vehicles while parked. By cutting just five minutes from your daily idling time, you could prevent between 220 and 440 pounds of greenhouse gas emissions in a year. (Note: For your safety, do not turn off your engine while waiting at a stoplight or when in traffic.)

We have programs to help!

  • Promote an anti-idling policy at your child’s school or at schools in your area. The AirQ Program provides “Idle-Free Zone” signs and information FREE to any school in the Kansas City metro area.
  • Reduce idling on company property — join KC Idle Free! This program provides free “Idle-Free Zone” signs to participating businesses and other organizations along with literature for their customers and clients explaining the benefits of not idling.
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Bring good things to life — again — when you recycle your old appliances

Refrigerated-Appliance-BoxModern life would be very different without appliances:  they wash, they dry, they heat, they cool, they slice, they dice, they make julienne fries! But when they stop working and are beyond repair, it’s time to recycle them.  But where?

Large Appliances

The easiest way to recycle large appliances such as washers and refrigerators is to have them removed by the company delivering your new appliance.  They will recycle your old appliance and are required by law to properly dispose of refrigerants.  If you’re installing the new appliance yourself, consider taking the old, nonfunctioning one to a scrap metal dealer, a used appliance dealer, landfill or transfer station. Johnson County, Lee’s Summit, and Courtney Ridge landfills have appliance recycling services. Several transfer stations (a site where recyclables and refuse are collected and sorted in preparation for processing or landfill) have appliance recycling services as well. Always call first.

If your old appliance still works, there may be no need to recycle it. Contact a used appliance dealer or Habitat ReStore (one of our SWMD grantees) to find out if it can be reused.

Small Appliances

Non-working small appliances like hair dryers, microwaves and coffee makers are accepted by a few electronic-waste recyclers such as The Surplus Exchange, Vintage Tech Recyclers, and Computer Recycle USA. If you’re just upgrading and the old one still works, you can also donate it to your local thrift store.

For more information on recycling appliances, visit and search for the appliance you wish to recycle.

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Congratulations to our 2014 SWMD grantees!

One of the most important things the MARC Solid Waste Management District does is provide financial support to organizations in our region for projects that reduce the material we send to landfills. The district receives funding every year from the fees collected from the state’s landfills and transfer stations. Half of that amount is used to fund local waste reduction, reuse and recycling projects through a grant program.

We are very proud of our 2014 group of grant recipients and excited about their projects. The district could not accomplish its waste diversion goals without our grantees!

The 2014 grant projects are:

  • Avenue of Life: $173,371 to develop a regional mattress recycling program.
  • Bridging The Gap:  $23,900 to provide one-on-one consultations and assistance to businesses interested in starting new or expanding existing recycling programs.
  • City of Blue Springs: $5,100 to purchase recycling bins for four city parks.
  • City of Riverside, Mo.: $3,210 for marketing and vendor costs for the 2014 Northland Recycling Extravaganza.
  • Friends of the City Market: $20,000 to provide support staff to assist River Market vendors in separating food waste for composting.
  • Grain Valley School District: $7,800 to start a food waste composting program in two schools.
  • Jackson County, Mo.: $64,632 to support start-up costs for a regional drop-off yard waste facility.
  • The Rehabilitation Institute: $31,240 to purchase a truck for transporting collected books to support the third year of a successful book recycling project.
  • Ripple Glass: $6,380 for a traveling educational display to encourage glass recycling.
  • Southeast Enterprises: $8,500 to support transportation costs associated with a regional holiday light recycling program.
  • Trozzolo Communications Group: $195,075 to develop a regional recycling education and marketing campaign.

Visit the Solid Waste Management District’s website to learn more about the grant program.

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Spring into river cleanups

BrushCreekFlood(7-11-10)_102Shake off the last of your cabin fever while keeping our waterways clean and healthy. Spring is here, and several clean-up dates are scheduled around the region. Pack your sunscreen and bug spray, and lend a hand to the region’s rivers and creeks. (Be sure to dress for the weather in work-appropriate clothes — long pants and sturdy shoes or boots are strongly recommended.)


River Otter Day

  • Date/Location: Saturday, March 22, 9 a.m.–noon, Richard L. Berkley Riverfront Park, Kansas City, Mo., south pavilion.
  • You Bring: A willing spirit.
  • Provided: Gloves, trash bags, rakes, T-shirts and lunch.
  • Clean up along the Riverfront Heritage trail and wetlands ecosystem. For information, contact Vicki Richmond with Healthy Rivers Partnership.


Oil Creek Cleanup

  • Date/Location: March 29, 9–11 a.m., Wallace Park, Belton, Mo.
  • You Bring: A reusable water bottle.
  • Provided: Training, work gloves, trash bags, morning donuts and lunch.
  • Register with South Grand River Watershed Alliance online or call 816/331-0336
  • Park at Community Center, 16400 N. Mullen Road, Belton, Mo., and follow the signs to the registration tent in the park.


Project Blue River Rescue 24

  • Date/Location: April 5, 8 a.m.–noon, Lakeside Nature Center, Kansas City, Mo.
  • You Bring: A reusable water bottle
  • Provided: Coffee and donuts, T-shirts, tools, work gloves, trash bags and lunch.
  • Register online at or by calling 816/513-8960.
  • All ages and abilities welcome. Lakeside Nature Center is located at 4701 E. Gregory Blvd., in Swope Park.


Leavenworth/Weston Missouri River Clean up

  • Date/Location: June 7, 9 a.m.–noon, Riverfront Park, Leavenworth, Kan.
  • You Bring: A willing spirit.
  • Provided:  Boat ride, T-shirt, trash bags, gloves and a reusable water bottle.
  • Register online with Missouri River Relief or call 573/443-0292.
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Closing the loop: from your recycling bin back to you

Recycling is a continuous process, which is shown by the three arrows of the recycling symbol. By purchasing products made from recycled materials, you are “closing the loop.” Products made from recycled materials are called recycled-content products, and the availability, variety and quality of these products is improving.

How does a recycled-content product make it to the store? The cycle starts in your own home or business.

closing the loop illustrationFirst, you collect recyclables, such as newspapers, aluminum cans and plastic bottles, and place them at the curb or take them to your local drop-off center. From there, the materials are delivered to a recycling facility, where they are shredded, pelletized or otherwise prepared to be sold to a manufacturing company.

Some materials are made into new versions of the same products. For example, an old newspaper will be used in a new newspaper and an old glass bottle can become a new glass bottle. However, many recyclables become ingredients used to make different products. For example, glass bottles are also used in insulation and plastic bottles can be used in carpet, park benches and fleece clothing.

Finally, it all comes back to you when you decide to buy recycled-content products. This creates a demand for recyclable materials and sends a strong message to manufacturers that we do not want more trash in our landfills.


When looking for recycled-content products, keep in mind that many products contain a mix of recycled and new materials.  Even the type of recycled content can vary:

  • Post-consumer recycled content includes material that was used by consumers or businesses for its intended purpose and then diverted or recovered by recycling. These are the recyclables that you put in your bin.
  • Pre-consumer recycled content is material that is recycled before it reaches the consumer.  For example, a paper mill might recycle its scrap paper before it ever leaves the plant.

The Federal Trade Commission requires that labels on recycled products tell where the recycled material came from. When shopping, look for the chasing arrows on the products you buy and read the label to identify the recycled content. Look for the products with highest percent of post-consumer recycled content. And as always, learn more at!

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Teams gearing up for 2015 Solar Decathlon

solar decathlon 2013 missouri 2In February, U.S. Deputy Secretary of Energy Daniel Poneman announced the 20 collegiate teams selected to compete in the U.S. Department of Energy Solar Decathlon 2015. The Decathlon challenges the teams to design, build and operate solar-powered houses that are cost-effective, energy-efficient and aesthetically pleasing.

Teams have approximately two years to design and build their houses and the winning design will be the one that best showcases affordability, consumer appeal and design excellence, as well as optimal energy production and efficiency.

Three Missouri schools are participating: Drury University (Springfield), Crowder College (Neosho) and the Missouri University of Science and Technology (Rolla). In 2013, the Vienna University of Technology (Vienna, Austria) won the Decathlon. The 2015 competition will take place at the Orange County Great Park in Irvine, Ca.

Read more about the Solar Decathlon.

See pictures of the Missouri University of Science and Technology’s 2013 Decathlon house.

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Recycle your ride

recycle-tiresAre you a do-it-yourselfer when it comes to auto maintenance? If so, you probably have a couple of tires or containers of used motor oil sitting around your garage that you’d like to see go. Or, perhaps you have an entire old car you want to get rid of. Luckily there are plenty of automotive recycling options in our region.

Batteries, Tires, Motor Oil and Filters

Most full-service automotive centers will recycle used motor oil and automotive batteries for free, and tires for a small fee. Auto parts stores and quick lube places generally accept used motor oil and batteries as well. Some locations even recycle oil filters. Always call first to check that items are accepted.

Household hazardous waste facilities also accept automotive batteries and fluids, including oil, antifreeze, brake fluid, power steering fluid and more.

  • search terms: Batteries, Tires, Automotive Fluids, Oil Filters


Old vehicles that are beyond repair are ideal for salvaging. Many automotive salvage yards, used auto parts dealers and even some scrap metal dealers will take that old car off your hands. Generally they will pay a modest amount for your vehicle and provide free pick up.


There are many organizations that accept vehicles for donation. Generally they’ll take your car (running or not), provide free pickup, help with the title and paperwork, and help you get the highest possible tax deduction. Contact your favorite charity to see if it has a vehicle donation program.

For more information on recycling automotive materials, visit Under “I want to recycle” you can click “More Search Options” to filter by material, salvage or donation.

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Q: What could weigh as much as 11 Great Pyramids of Giza in 2017?

VintageTech-elecRecyc-KB_026A: The estimated amount of e-waste generated worldwide that year.

The world will generate an estimated 71.1 million tons of used electrical and electronic products in 2017 — an increase of more than 30 percent over 2012 levels — according to a study published by the United Nations organization StEP (Solving the E-Waste Problem). Researchers evaluated the global magnitude of annual e-waste generation and presented the results on this interactive world map. The map uses 2012 data from 184 countries.

In 2012, the world generated almost 53.9 million tons of e-waste, an average of 43 pounds for each of the world’s 7 billion people. The U.S. generated the most waste with 10.4 tons (about 66 pounds per person) and China came in second, with 7.9 million tons (about 12 pounds per person). For those of you keeping track at home, this means the U.S. generates nearly 20 percent of the world’s e-waste.

companion study published in tandem with the StEP report provides a detailed analysis of the generation, collection and export of some used electronic products in the U.S. For example, in 2010, U.S. e-waste included nearly 258.2 million whole-unit computers, monitors, TVs and mobile phones totaling 1.6 million tons. The study found that a majority of materials collected were mobile phones, but that TVs and monitors made up more than half of the total weight. Of the e-waste generated, Americans recycled 66 percent of the total units, but only 56 percent of the total weight. This suggests that mobile phones are recycled more frequently than heavier items such as TVs and monitors.

In Kansas City we are fortunate to have numerous facilities that recycle e-waste. Find a convenient location by visiting

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