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Don’t waste the holidays

When you’re making your holiday to-do list, be sure to add reduce, reuse and recycle! There are many great ways to practice the three Rs — from Halloween to New Year’s Eve.

Decorating

  • Shop thrift stores or online for pre-owned décor you want; donate or sell what you don’t.
  • Take good care of your decorations so that they will last many years.
  • Make handmade decorations that are re-useable, recyclable or compostable.

BinnyDance-02-01Cards and Invitations

  • Purchase cards made from recycled content.
  • Make handmade, recyclable cards.
  • Send electronic invitations and cards.
  • Donate used cards.

Costumes

  • Make your own costume from secondhand clothes or items you already have around the house.
  • Skip the chemical-laden face paint (which can be disposed of safely through your local HHW program). Instead, make your own safe, planet-friendly makeup.

Gifts

  • Shop at thrift stores or online to find a unique used gift.
  • Give an experience! Try gift cards for food and entertainment, tickets to a show, or memberships to a museum or zoo.
  • Make a donation in someone’s name.

Gift Wrap

  • Use recyclable wrapping such as old posters, maps, paper grocery bags or the funny papers.
  • Wrap with attractive cloth, fabric ribbons or a reusable bag.
  • Use last year’s boxes, tissue paper, bows and ribbons.

Gatherings

  • Use durable tableware: dishes, cups, utensils, napkins, tablecloths, etc.
  • Recycle cans and bottles.
  • Compost food waste.

binnyLightsClean Up

  • Compost your pumpkins, gourds and poinsettias. You can also keep poinsettias as houseplants (they’ll bloom year after year).
  •  “Treecycle” your holiday tree, wreaths and garland (natural only).
  • Recycle your old or broken holiday lights.
  • Recycle packaging and cards.
  • Save boxes, tissue paper, bows and ribbons for next year.
  • Donate gently used items to charities or thrift stores.

For more information, visit RecycleSpot.org or call 816-474-8326.

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Food for thought — and our air

idle-free school zone

Do you take your lunch to work or go out to eat? Either way, we have some tips to make your meal sustainable and waste free so you can have your lunch and reduce your carbon footprint, too.

  • Reduce, reuse and recycle your lunch. Reduce your food waste — the single-largest source of waste in municipal landfills — by adjusting your lunch size to match your appetite. Reuse lunch containers to limit your food wrapper trash. Recycle your leftovers by composting any food you won’t eat later. Contact MARC or Bridging the Gap for guidance on developing a food recycling program at your office.
  • Buy local foods. You can protect air quality by purchasing local foods — less time on the delivery truck means fewer emissions polluting the air. Buying local produce and meats doesn’t have to be expensive or a hassle. LocalHarvest and KC Food Circle can help you find local farmers’ markets, community sustainable agriculture (CSA), farms and shops. If you’re eating out, try carpooling or riding transit to a restaurant that gets its ingredients from area farms.
  • Encourage food waste recycling programs. Recycling food waste makes use of valuable organic resources instead of filling up landfills. Programs like Missouri Organic Recycling’s FRED Project provide a collection service for schools and businesses. These programs often offer a free audit to assess your institution’s needs and provide education to employees or students. In 2012, the Shawnee Mission School District was recognized for its composting efforts through MARC’s Sustainable Success Stories.
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Mattress Recycling Comes to Kansas City

By Matt Riggs, Solid Waste Management District outreach coordinator

Do you have a mattress that you no longer want or use? You now have options to recycle that old mattress in the Kansas City area.

The following organizations and businesses offer mattress and box spring recycling services:

Mattresses damage landfill equipment and do not easily compress, taking up about 23 cubic feet of space each. Fortunately, mattresses are 100 percent recyclable. They are made of foam, polyester, cotton, metal, wood and shoddy (reclaimed wool fabric), all of which can be re-manufactured into other products.

When you recycle or donate your mattress you can support organizations that do more than keep mattresses out of landfills. Avenue of Life helps low-income individuals and families break the cycle of poverty by providing jobs to those with barriers to employment, and Sleepyhead Beds provides clean, recycled beds and bedding to children in need. These organizations have partnered with each other to make sure all mattresses they receive are donated back to families or recycled. Avenue of Life collects all mattresses recycled at Courtney Ridge Landfill, Excelsior Springs Recycling Center and Lee’s Summit Resource Recovery Park.

For more information, visit RecycleSpot.org or call 816-474-8326.

 

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When the lights go out: how to recycle and dispose properly

bulb-87565_1920By Matt Riggs, Solid Waste Management District outreach coordinator

Many of us have replaced our standard incandescent light bulbs with compact fluorescent or LED light bulbs. But what do you do with the old bulbs when they burn out? Properly disposing or recycling light bulbs can increase your safety, save energy and help the environment.

Fluorescent bulbs

Both fluorescent tubes and compact fluorescent (“squiggly”) bulbs are hazardous and require special handling. Both types can be recycled through local household hazardous waste programs and at Batteries Plus. Compact fluorescent lights can also be recycled at Home Depot, Lowe’s or other hardware stores. Always call stores first to make sure they participate in recycling programs.

What if bulbs are broken?

The hazardous component of fluorescent light bulbs is the small amount of mercury sealed within the glass tubing. When a fluorescent bulb breaks, some of this mercury is released as mercury vapor. Keep yourself and sanitation workers safe by following proper cleanup procedures.

Incandescent, halogen and LED bulbs

Unfortunately, there are no options to recycle incandescent, halogen and LED (light-emitting diode) light bulbs in the Kansas City metro. Since these types of bulbs do not contain any hazardous materials they can be thrown away in your regular trash. For safety’s sake, place burned out bulbs back in their original packaging or in a plastic bag before throwing them away.

For more information, visit RecycleSpot.org or call (816) 474-8326.

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Stop carting your cartons to the trash

By Matt Riggs, Solid Waste Management District outreach coordinator

Milk, juice, broth, soup and wine cartons are now recyclable in the Kansas City area through curbside programs and at recycling centers serviced by Deffenbaugh, Republic Services and Town and Country.

There are two types of cartons: shelf-stable and refrigerated. The shelf-stable cartons contain a thin layer of aluminum which serves as an oxygen and light barrier. Products in this group include juice, soups and broth, wine, and soy and grain milk. Refrigerated cartons are made from paperboard (non-corrugated cardboard) and coated with a thin layer of polyethylene, a type of plastic. These cartons include milk, juice, cream, egg substitutes, and soy and grain milk cartons.

After cartons are collected they are taken to a material recovery facility to be sorted and baled. The bales are then shipped to paper mills, where cartons are mixed with water in a hydrapulper — like a giant kitchen blender — to extract all the paper fiber. These paper fibers are then made into products such as tissues, office paper and wall board.

Always call your hauler or recycling center first to make sure they accept cartons.

For more information, visit RecycleSpot.org or call (816) 474-8326.

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How much trash do you send to the landfill?

trashThe answer depends on who you ask and how you define “trash.” There are two main sources for nationwide solid waste management data in the United States:

The two sources use different methodologies and as a result provide different answers to the question. The EPA determines the size of the waste stream using manufacturing production data, estimates of product imports and exports and estimated product life. Estimates for the generation of food and yard waste are based on sampling studies. EPA has used this methodology consistently for over 40 years, which allows for analyses of long-term trends. EPA defines “municipal solid waste” — or trash, as most of us call it — as everyday items such as product packaging, grass clippings, furniture, clothing, bottles, cans, food scraps, newspapers, appliances, consumer electronics and batteries. These items come from homes, institutions such as schools and hospitals, and commercial sources such as restaurants and small businesses. EPA’s definition does not include municipal wastewater treatment sludge, industrial process waste, automobile bodies, combustion ash or construction and demolition debris. The editors of BioCycle Magazine began a national survey in 1989 using state-gathered data from disposal, recycling and composting facilities. While this methodology uses actual tonnages, it should be noted that states do not define municipal solid waste consistently. For example, states often include non-hazardous solid wastes — such as construction and demolition debris and industrial waste — in their data, unlike the EPA. So, what is the answer to the original question? How much trash DO you send to the landfill?

  • EPA estimates that the average American produced 4.38 pounds of trash per day in 2012. About a third of that was recycled and the remaining 2.87 pounds were burned or sent to a landfill.
  • The latest BioCycle national survey, conducted by Columbia University, estimates that each person generated 6.84 pounds of trash per day in 2011. Again, approximately a third of that was recycled or composted and the remaining 4.86 pounds were burned or sent to a landfill.

Stay tuned for a post that will look closer to home and assess regional data to better answer this question.

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Recycle empty pressurized gas cylinders

By Matt Riggs, Solid Waste Management District outreach coordinator

Propane tank 20lbWhen your outdoor grill, camping stove or helium tank runs out of gas, what do you do with the empty tank? You can recycle these pressurized gas cylinders, but they require special handling.

Gas Grill Tanks
Outdoor gas grills use propane tanks. When yours runs out of gas, you can exchange it for a full tank at services such as Blue Rhino or Amerigas. Each has locations throughout the metro area, and charges a fee to exchange or buy a new tank. If you want to recycle your old tank without getting a refill, you can either drop it off at one of these tank exchange locations or take it to a scrap metal dealer that accepts pressurized tanks.

Camping Tanks
Camp stoves and lanterns also use propane tanks. Empty tanks are accepted by household hazardous waste facilities and scrap metal dealers. Be sure to call first!

Disposable Helium Tanks
People purchase disposable helium tanks to fill up balloons for special occasions. The companies that sell them generally don’t take them back. Properly prepare the tank for recycling by watching this video, then take it to a scrap metal dealer.

Other Tanks
Pressurized industrial, medical and specialty gas tanks are most often taken back by the company that sells them. Contact the company you purchased yours from to find out about return options.

Always call first!
Always call scrap metal dealers and household hazardous waste facilities first. HHW facilities have size limits and scrap metal dealers have preparation requirements.

For more information, visit RecycleSpot.org or call 816-474-8326.

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Making sense out of plastic recycling

By Matt Riggs, Solid Waste Management District outreach coordinator

We use hundreds of types of plastics in our daily lives, so how do we know which ones are recyclable and which ones are not? Most recycling programs include plastic, but are vague, confusing or inconsistent about which types are accepted. So we play the guessing game and end up trashing plastic items that could be recycled, and recycling others that should be trashed. The following information should help clear it all up for you.

Recycle These:
The following list has the types of plastics that you can recycle in the metro area. Most plastics used in the products you buy are numbered  one through seven. Look for the number in the resin code that appears in the chasing arrow symbol, usually on the bottom of the container.

Plastics Recycling Table 2

Visit the Habitat ReStore and Vintage Tech Recyclers websites to learn more.

Don’t Recycle These:
Following are the types of plastics you cannot currently recycle in the Kansas City metro area. Most can go in the trash, but be sure to properly dispose of hazardous household products.

Plastics Recycling Table Don't
Proper Plastics Prep
Proper preparation of materials can mean the difference between successful and unsuccessful recycling. Here are some tips:

  • Call — Always call your hauler or recycling center first to confirm the types of plastics they accept.
  • Empty — Make sure containers are completely empty.
  • Rinse — Give containers a quick rinse to remove residue.
  • Don’t forget caps and lids — Plastic caps and lids are recyclable, too. Crush plastic bottles, put the cap back on and recycle. Or, fill a plastic tub with caps and lids, put on the lid and recycle. Both methods keep caps and lids from falling through the sorting machinery and getting thrown out at the material recovery facility.

For more information, visit RecycleSpot.org or call 816-474-8326.

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Stay sharp about glass recycling

shard-8292_1280_webBy Matt Riggs, Solid Waste Management District outreach coordinator

Even if glass is not collected in your standard curbside recycling program, there are many options for recycling and reusing all types of glass in the metro area.

Food and Beverage Containers
Recycle brown, clear, green and blue food and beverage containers in the large, purple Ripple Glass bins located throughout the metro area. If you prefer curbside pickup, both Atlas Glass and KC Curbside Glass provide service throughout the metro area to both residents and businesses for a monthly fee.

Glassware
Donate undamaged dishware, vases, decorative glassware and mirrors to thrift stores. Antique glassware can be sold at antique stores and online.

Sheet Glass

Donate mirrors, glass shelving and various types of glass windows to Habitat for Humanity ReStores. Glass panes or unframed glass can only be accepted if it is new and in its original packaging. For more information on acceptable materials, check ReStore’s donation criteria list.

Fluorescent light bulbs
Fluorescent tubes and compact bulbs (the squiggly ones) have mercury in them, which requires special handling. Both can be recycled through local household hazardous waste programs. Compact fluorescent bulbs can also be recycled at Home Depot and Lowe’s.

Broken glass
With the exception of food and beverage containers, if the glass you want to get rid of is broken, it is not recyclable. Call your trash hauler for pickup of large pieces of broken glass — such as windows, table tops, mirrors, etc. — and verify preparation requirements. A fee may apply. All small, broken glass items and burnt out light bulbs (excluding fluorescent bulbs mentioned above) can be disposed of in the trash. Keep the safety of your sanitation workers in mind and prepare items properly for disposal.

For more information, visit RecycleSpot.org or call 816-474-8326.

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Build it and they will come. Tear it down and they can recycle it!

There’s a huge pile of it when a building is torn down. There is a dumpster full of it when a house is remodeled. It’s called construction and demolition waste, and the good news is most of it can be reused or recycled.

Construction and demolition materials consist of the debris generated during the construction, renovation and demolition of homes, buildings, roads and bridges. And all of us — from construction companies to private residents — can play a role in giving it a second life.

Habitat-ReStore-RequirementsDonate it

Habitat ReStore accepts donations of new and used building materials and furniture from individuals, contractors and retailers. The donated materials are made available to the public at discounted prices. Profits support Habitat for Humanity’s mission to build decent, affordable homes for low-income families to own.

This Habitat ReStore Kansas City guide (PDF) lists all building materials you can donate.

Deconstruct it

Deconstruction is the process of hand-dismantling rooms, homes or buildings in order to salvage useable portions. The Habitat ReStore Kansas City uses trained and certified deconstruction contractors for whole-house removal. ReStore also has crews that handle partial deconstruction jobs like kitchen, bath and deck removal.

Choosing deconstruction has many advantages, including:

  • Reduced costs through tax deductions.
  • Reduced environmental impact when removing the building.
  • Creating new, livable-wage jobs in the Kansas City area.
  • Supplying Habitat ReStore with quality, affordable building materials which are made available for public reuse.

Take it to a landfill or transfer station

There are several landfills and transfer stations in the Kansas City metro area that recycle certain building materials, including metal, asphalt, concrete, wood waste and roofing materials. Landfills and transfer stations charge a fee for accepting materials. For more information, visit RecycleSpot.org and search for “building materials” under “I want to recycle.”

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