The Retrofit Companies Blog

Future of Lighting Controls (links)

future of lighting controls 2016.png

Controls have been a part of successful lighting projects for a long time; however, technology exists now to make using it easier and more affordable. We've shared several ways that use of controls can increase energy efficiency and we've previously discussed the future of lighting controls from our perspective. Here we have collected a set of links discussing an array of topics from the need for standards in education for lighting design professionals, to the pros and cons of wireless controls. 


"The lighting industry is undergoing massive change due to growing demand for intelligent LED lighting systems and controls. LED lighting, which promises high operating cost savings, is ideally paired with both wired and wireless intelligent lighting controls, which promise additional savings and flexibility. Accelerating demand for these technologies is transforming workspaces while reducing costs. It is also creating an education gap among service providers unfamiliar with aspects of the technology.

The electrical industry has responded with a series of initiatives, but to date, there has been no national certification signifying a high level of general expertise in lighting controls technology, application, design and commissioning. To address this need, NALMCO developed the Certified Lighting Controls Professional (CLCP) designation." [READ MORE]


"With wireless lighting control, you don’t need to rely on employees to turn lights on and off. Instead, you can take advantage of scheduling, timers, occupancy sensors and photosensors to deliver the optimal illumination level in all situations while minimizing wasted energy." [READ MORE]


"Energy usage can be cut by 40% by using the latest, more advanced HVAC and lighting controls.  Thus, operating costs for older buildings can be lowered by retrofitting equipment and controls. However, the cost of rewiring is often prohibitive. That’s where wireless sensor networks (WSNs) can help." [READ MORE]


"[D]istricts everywhere are being asked to do more with less, progressive administrators and technicians are coming together to find new ways to streamline work and automate processes. Automated lighting control systems... give facilities managers the flexibility to plan complex lighting schedules well in advance while reducing manual work and energy use."  [READ MORE]


"Lighting is fundamental to any retail store, whether that is for setting a scene and influencing how a brand is perceived, or even encouraging shoppers to make a particular purchase. However, if not managed correctly, it can be extremely expensive. In fact, lighting accounts for around 53% off all electricity consumption in a typical retail outlet, according to the U.S. Energy Information Administration." [READ MORE]


 "The opportunities for the lighting industry are immense. Luminaires, which essentially see every square inch of habitable space, are an obvious media in which to host the sensor and video technology that can turn the world into a virtual databank" [READ MORE]

If you are beginning your research, be sure you are getting the best information you can in order to make the best decision. Start by asking the right questions & get our guide:

11 Questions you should ask a lighting contractor

Corporations Step Up to Support Community Ewaste Recycling Collections

Community Recycling Collection Event in Warroad.png


In northern Minnesota, a stone’s throw from the Canadian border, is the town of Warroad. This unassuming small town is home to Marvin Windows and Doors, the world’s largest manufacturer of made-to-order wood window and door products. While the town has a population just under two thousand people, the business employs more than 5,200 people at their ten nationwide locations. The company has been recognized widely for its ethical and responsible practices and was named The Most Ethical Large Company in America in 2014. At the core of their values you find environmental stewardship activities ranging from conservation, sustainability programs, and recycling efforts.

Given its rural location and the fact that it is a community anchor, there is something distinctive about the location of the headquarters and their sense of community in the workplace. As I learned about the company, this fact shone through and continued to when I interviewed Wayne Pearson. Wayne is a Waste Management Supervisor, and we met to talk about a program that was founded at Marvin Windows and Doors to help alleviate a recycling issue he noticed as a result of the town’s somewhat remote location and lack of recycling outlets. The company has a strong commitment to environmental stewardship and Pearson was in a unique position to address this lack-of-recycling problem in a way that perhaps others may not have been able to do. He understood the importance of recycling, and naturally he felt the same importance applied to individuals, as well. He explains, “Up here, we’re so far away from any recycling markets, and the employees needed these services. We did not have the avenues to recycle electronics and glass like more populated areas.” He suggested the company hold a recycling event specifically for employees, sponsored by Marvin Windows and Doors. “The company is proactive. It’s very evident with programs like this. They supported the idea and the financial aspects of it, too. They are the ones that get this. Their support to the employees is tremendous.”

The first ewaste recycling collection event was held in 2012 with great success. Just over 23,000 pounds of electronics were recycled; all of these items brought to the collection by employees at the headquarters location! In 2013 the event peaked at 25,477 pounds of electronics, plus another 10,552 pounds of appliances. By 2014, Pearson was seeing the amount of waste drop: roughly 18,000 pounds of electronics and 4,000 pounds of appliances were recycled at that event. In 2015, another drop to 15,573 pounds of electronics, but with the most recent event in October 2016, something surprising happened – the collection event generated just over 19,000 pounds of electronics. “I’m not sure what to say on the 2016 results, I’m a little bit disappointed. I’d rather have it continue to decline! Word is getting out there more, and I know there are a certain amount of new people taking advantage of the program,” Pearson said.

Wayne and I talked a bit about the growth and future of the program, and the support offered by Marvin Windows and Doors. “The first two years, when we started the electronics recycling program, there was no charge to anyone to do this because the commodity markets for recycling were great. We had an appliance recycling event, too. The markets were so good that there was no cost to the company. Now the last three years, the markets have declined and we have lost some of our recycling avenues,” he says, referring to another program in the county that recycled glass, but ended up leaving the market and leaving residents with no glass recycling option. Parenthetically, Marvin Windows and Doors now offers a glass recycling program to its employees since the county doesn’t offer that type of recycling program anymore.

“The local transfer station will take [electronic] items, but they charge $5 a piece for them. We’re offering these services to the employees now. During the collection event we say, ‘Yes! Bring your items to recycle, there’s no charge!’ We also have internal support for these activities and it’s a pretty amazing thing for the company to do. Marvin Windows and Doors is progressive, and I want to support that by doing the best thing I can do for the company.”

The two-day event is held once a year, and employees are invited to bring their electronic waste in to be collected by Pearson and his team. I asked him about the effort it takes to organize an event like this, and Wayne said, “It’s outside of the facilities’ normal activities, so we take two days for the collection. There is a lot of work and preparation for it, and then during the collection we’re actually kept pretty busy. We don’t staff it full time, but we try to make it so that someone is there if people bring heavier items.” At the end of the event, waste is shipped to The Retrofit Companies’ location in Little Canada, MN to be sorted and delivered for recycling.

Over the span of just ten days, over the course of 5 years, in a town with less than 1,800 residents, one company was able to collect more than 115,000 pounds of waste electronics and appliances as a service to its employees. This waste was diverted from improper disposal or landfilling, and was responsibly recycled. The community collection model has been a staggering success for the worker community at Marvin Windows and Doors.

So, what do employees who take advantage of the recycling collection think of it and would Pearson recommend this for other organizations? In short, resounding positivity. He says, “Yes, it’s a morale booster and a service. It’s well worth the effort to get this type of program going. I’ve been working with Jake [TRC Environmental Sales Director] for two years on this, and it is awesome working together. Planning this out, the support of our company, the many individuals coming together to communicate these efforts. It’s a huge opportunity for Marvin Windows and Doors employees to clean out basements, garages, and storage areas for no charge. The employees are grateful and appreciative that this is a possibility. This is something a company can do that is beneficial to employees. It is a big effort, but well worth it.” •


Looking for additional information to plan community recycling collection programs? Read this:

How to plan your community recycling day

Why Invest in a Lighting Study? (VIdeo Interview)

 why invest in a lighting study video.png

Sweet Harvest facility manager, Brian Pleschcourt talks about his experience with an aging and inefficient lighting system, and tells us how the Lighting Redesign Study process worked for his facility.  Read the interview now.

Why did Sweet Harvest decide to replace the lighting in your facility? What were the issues you faced and what were some of your company's goals for the lighting project?

"We knew it was time to replace the lighting in the facility because we had a lot of older existing fixtures with lamp failures and also with ballast issues. We had a general yellowish tint to the building. We wanted to improve the lighting and the quality of lighting for our employees' productivity and safety. Also, to support our green initiatives toward saving energy."

What solutions were evident in the study that you may not have been able to realize without that first planning step of an Investment Grade Audit?

"We saw with the motion sensors and controls on the lighting that we could save more energy. Sweet Harvest foods has a commitment to reducing our carbon footprint and we take that very seriously. We were able to take out the length of the project - as far as payback - a little longer knowing we were making good decisions, environmentally sound decisions. [These were] decisions that would save us money in the long run."

In your opinion, what were the benefits of the lighting study process?

"One of the benefits to the lighting study was that we were able to look at new technologies in the existing building. That [part of the study] allowed us to reduce the amount of fixtures in the layout, lighting exactly to what our needs were going to be. There's no guess work. Everything is calculated and engineered."


Watch the video! 


If you're thinking it's time to invest in a lighting study, get our free e-book today & learn more:

get a smart start to your lighting project

Minnesota Hazardous Waste manifest Updates

Although TRC sent notices along with all the manifests that we generated earlier this year, it may be a good reminder to Minnesota generators that the MPCA is no longer requiring you to mail in the  “Designated Facility to generator’ (3 signature copy) manifest copies. Generators in Scott and Anoka counties still need to send in their copies to their respective Counties.


“For administrative and budgetary reasons, the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency (MPCA), and the Metropolitan Counties of Anoka, Carver, Dakota, Hennepin, Ramsey, Scott, and Washington (Metro Counties) have changed the requirements for submittal of hazardous waste manifest copies.

Effective April 30, 2016, all hazardous waste generators of any size in Anoka and Scott counties must submit manifest copies directly to their county.

Hazardous waste generators of all sizes anywhere else in Minnesota except Anoka or Scott County should no longer submit any manifest copies to either the MPCA or their county unless explicitly requested.

You may find a detailed discussion of this change in newly revised MPCA Factsheet #w-hw1-07, ‘Manifest Shipments of Hazardous Waste’ at: "


 Questions about compliance or waste solutions? Contact our team today!

Consult our haz waste team

Lighting Retrofit - Vs - Lighting Redesign



As our company approaches its 25th business anniversary, we know this for sure: no two lighting projects are the same. So, when you're presented with several options for a lighting project, how can you know which is the best option for you - lighting retrofit or lighting redesign? In this post, we're going to step through three common approaches to lighting projects and discuss each in detail. First, let's talk a little bit about why all projects are so different.


You know that your business needs may be similar to another company of your same size in the same industry, but you also know that you've got differing needs. Here are some factors you should consider and questions you should be able to answer as you consider whether or not to upgrade your lighting: 

  • Do you know if you over or under lit?
  • Do specific areas of your process have different lighting needs?  For example, in manufacturing an inspection line and a warehouse/staging area would require different types or amounts of lighting. In an office setting you may have presentation spaces and work spaces where different tasks take place.
  • Are areas of your space unoccupied for long periods of time?  If you are not using any lighting controls currently, this would be a great place to consider implementing a controls system.
  • What does the future of your business look like? Do you have expansion plans or anticipate a change to your layout? 
  • Do you need a lighting system that is capable of growing with you?  By designing with a smart fixture that can do more than what we’ll tell it to do, you can always adjust the light level as your needs change. (This applies to most LED options.)
  • Because each business is different these are just some of the variables that are taken into consideration when planning or designing a lighting system.


Understanding your business needs is the first step in project planning. Your needs may be simple and direct and your business may not be changing, or you may be a company in the midst of growth and you envision many changes in the future to your business process. Three general options exist; we're calling them "Good," "Better," "Best."



This option has a low up-front cost and results in minimal waste. Replacing lamps is generally a quick and simple solution, energy-efficient lamps are relatively easy to find. There is typically a good simple payback with reduction of wattage per lamp. With this simple scope of work, the rebate is also straightforward. In most cases rebates are per lamp, but this depends on the type.

This option will have a shorter over all system life than most fixture replacements; it will result in higher future maintenance costs. Replacing lamps will not necessarily address inconsistent light levels, improve performance, or reduce shadows that currently exist in your lighting. This option is not recommended for rugged or hazardous environments.


Nearly half of the projects evaluated will have a one-for-one fixture replacement solution. This solution is pretty likely to result in a successful project, and has been a pretty standard approach in the lighting industry for years. Again, the scope of work is pretty simple, and so is the rebate structure. Rebates are typically per fixture, and removing some fixtures can result in a higher rebate. Replacing fixtures in their existing locations also means a lower up-front cost to this project type because you do not have a cost associated to wiring fixtures to new locations.

With this sort of project, we have seen results where light levels went from 30 to 100 foot-candles in a gymnasium. Without controls, or ability to adjust light levels, a lot of energy is wasted to over-light this space when no events are happening in it. In addition to being over lit, keeping these unneeded fixtures will result in higher costs for energy and higher maintenance costs.

This solution may work just fine for half of projects as we noted, however; the best projects are given more consideration. Redesign planning is where a lighting design professional will outshine a standard electrical contractor.


Lighting redesign is a collaborative process between a business owner or operator and a lighting professional. The process takes into consideration your business, how it functions, how spaces are used, and any financial and environmental goals that your business has in sight. The solution begins with a study, or deep dive into all these factors, and when research is completed a custom lighting system is designed. Certified lighting professionals work with you to ensure that the scope of the project will meet your needs, and all aspects of it will be planned out in a series of reports before a single piece of equipment is ordered. This is the most sophisticated route for a lighting project, an investment in your investment.

Some utilities offer reimbursement programs to reduce the cost of the investment in a lighting study, which is in addition to the rebate received for energy savings. While a project study may increase the payback time period, the overall results are a lowered long term cost of ownership factoring in maintenance savings and energy reductions. 

Why should you consider a redesign if a one-for-one fixture replacement would be just fine? Once again, this comes down to the level of sophistication that is inherent in LED lighting. There are as many solutions as there are businesses, and sorting through all of those is nearly impossible unless you plan with the help of a lighting partner. You can have a good project, or with a little more insight you can have a great one. Partnership with a great lighting professional will allow you to get the most out of your lighting project investment by starting off with the best plan possible.


Curious about the redesign process? Learn about Investment Grade Audits now - get our free ebook!

Why invest in a lighting study?

The Surprising Impact of Lighting Redesign


Before their lighting redesign and retrofit, this arena building was underlit and had major shadows.

Rick A Shay Ranch is a horse lover’s sanctuary nestled at the end of a wooded drive in Chisago City, Minnesota. Owner operator Pam Foshay started her ranch nearly 20 years ago, and describes her history with horses as spanning several decades including a notable list of credentials. On the ranch Pam offers lessons, boarding, and training in a range of styles from basic handling and trail riding to dressage and games. The training is physical and mental for all involved. From her description, most of her clients are children and young adults with whom she loves to share her vast experience and cites that best parts of her job are the long relationships she is able to have with riders. She says some of them started with her when they were under ten years old. She has watched them grow, volunteer, and develop their dedication to the hard work of caring for the animals into impressive points of interest when applying for colleges and jobs. Many of them are now in their 20’s and still spend time at Rick A Shay Ranch.

Pam’s primary arena was constructed in the late 1990’s, and at the time, the lights installed were previously used. Some of the primary issues with the old lighting, aside from being inefficient and expensive to operate, included cones of light and many shadows within the arena area. She knew it was time for an upgrade, so she began working with The Retrofit Companies to have a new lighting system designed and installed.

Consultants from The Retrofit Companies designed a system where interior and exterior metal halide and incandescent fixtures were replaced with new LED fixtures. Inside, the 17 existing metal halide fixtures that used over 450 watts each were replaced with 12 new LED fixtures that consume only 102 watts per fixture. With the system redesign five fixtures were removed, and lighting performance is improved. Photometric studies prior to installation allow us to see projected outcomes and determine if a fixture will perform in the manner expected. On the exterior of the building, new LED fixtures with dusk-to-dawn sensors now light the side of the building and the doorways automatically as needed, making early chores easier for her and late departures safer for her clients.


After the project was completed, inside was almost as bright at the outside!

We asked Pam about the other improvements she and her riders have experienced since the project was completed, and were surprised by some of her answers. She told us that people comment on the improved look and that the better lighting is important to the young riders as they learn new skills. Regarding the performance of the system she says, “It’s two times brighter, and no glare. We turn them on, and zing, they’re on!” She noted that it’s nice and bright, and during the winter it’s always a sunny day inside. “It’s inviting, let’s put it that way.” We know that improved lighting does have an impact on people, and has been proven to increase productivity so we asked about the horses. One of the most interesting aspects of the project we think, was Pam’s answer to this inquiry. She says the horses can see better in the new light. They are able to better use all of the arena space since shadows are reduced and they’re more relaxed; in turn this relaxes the riders for a more enjoyable learning experience.


Pam’s new lighting system is anticipated to reduce her annual lighting costs by an astonishing 84%. The LED retrofit qualified for a utility rebate of $4,100, and offers a simple payback of one year and nine months. These remarkable results aren’t exclusive to large projects, or giant warehouse spaces, even smaller businesses can see dramatic improvements with lighting redesign and upgrade projects.

Curious about lighting redesign and project planning? Get our ebook!

Why invest in a lighting study?


Improper E-Waste Recycling? (Link)


Do you know the ultimate destination for your old electronics when you send them to be recycled? Whether you are paying for a recycling service or donating your used electronics,  taking responsibility for your end of life electronic waste is important and necessary for individuals and businesses alike. Basel Action Network (BAN) recently tracked some electronic waste devices destined for recycling, but discovered that nearly 1 in 3 of these items were being potentially illegally exported. 


Basel Action Network (BAN), released a new report following a two year study that involved placing electronic GPS tracking devices into old hazardous electronic equipment such as printers and computer monitors, and then watching where they traveled across the globe.


Instead of being recycled, 32.5 percent of these devices were exported overseas on container ships. Most of them went to Asia and were traded in likely violation of the laws of the importing countries. Of the 149 trackers delivered to recyclers, 39 percent were exported. [SOURCE]

You can learn more about Basal Action Network's "e-Trash Transparency Program" on their site. Improper e-waste recycling can have resounding effects on the environment and on people. If you're curious about what can happen when e-waste is illegally exported, take a look at this photo essay. It illustrates the impact of illegal or irresponsible exporting of electronics on the environment and on the young lives of people who process the waste in terrible conditions.

If you are looking for more information about how to responsibly recycle e-waste you can read our article "Four Things You Must Know to Responsibly Recycle Your Electronics." To learn more about computer recycling contact our environmental team for information about our responsible recycling services.

Request Recycling Pick Up




Linear LED & Other T8 LED Resources


There's a giant world of information about LED linear tube options, energy efficient lighting, and how to get the most from your retrofit project, but do you really have the time to seek it all out? If you're like most any professional we've met, the answer is no. You need concise, accurate information in order to make informed business decisions. To save you a few clicks, today we're sharing a rundown of all our information about T8 LED tubes to date - from "What is a Linear LED T8?" to some recall products we've noted, and a video of how simple installation mis-steps result in product failures. Keep reading for a distilled list of high points!


1) Are you considering a lighting upgrade by replacing your T8 fluorescent lamps with T8 LED linear tubes for energy efficiency? This is a wonderful leap in the lighting world, affording lighting designers, facility managers, and other contractors the ability to essentially retrofit existing fluorescent fixtures with LED linear tube options. It can be seen to have benefits and cost savings over a major redesign and new lighting system overhaul; however, there are many considerations to be aware of as you begin planning your lighting project if you only intend to replace fluorescent tubes with LED tubes.Unfortunately, it’s never as simple as just changing a light bulb. Keep reading to learn some of the pitfalls and concerns to keep in mind as you learn about LED T8 lamps. [READ MORE]


2) There are 3 general types of T8 LED tubes used in LED lighting retrofit projects. In this post we evaluate each of these LED linear tube options, sharing best uses, and some pros and cons.


3) Deeply consider how you would like to approach your lighting upgrade investment, are you simply looking for greater energy efficiency, or do you want to improve lighting, reduce maintenance expenses, and step in to the future with a well-designed system?


4) One common retrofit includes integrated LED lamps to eliminate the need for a ballast. This might be the right solution for your facility, but this video illustrates the future care and education required of each individual tasked with maintaining a lighting system. There is a large potential for injury for an uninformed individual maintaining these systems. LED T8 hazards exist, and a simple oversight can cause serious damage. Watch here to see how two common mistakes are made in maintaining integrated LED T8 fixtures.


5) Deciding to invest in energy-efficiency is a decision that every company or business must come by on their own. Oftentimes, an investment in energy-efficiency will yield more than a return on investment. Let’s look at 9 signs that could be telling you it’s time to consider investing in LED Lighting.


6) T8 LED Lamp recalls from Cree and from Sylvania.


Looking for additional insight? Our professional lighting consultants are available! Schedule now:

Consult a Lighting Pro


Do you have a room, closet, or cabinet used for chemical storage? Maybe your business has a few old cans of paint, or an entire warehouse aisle of miscellaneous products that sit half-unused year after year, and you're not really sure how to start getting it all cleaned up safely and responsibly?

Keep reading to learn about the TRC process for managing hazardous waste cleanups for our clients, with attention to details, and in compliance with DOT and EPA regulations.

We start in one of two manners, either the client provides a waste inventory, or TRC comes on site to organize waste and create the inventory. Here's how each option works:


Client sorts and inventories their waste, and then provides TRC with that inventory along with SDS sheets for all wastes. The Environmental team likes to have pictures, so they know how much and what types of packaging to prepare for, and to get a clear idea of what is on site. TRC will often ask for that from the customer. TRC is then able to create a recycling and disposal estimate based on that inventory. The actual invoice will be based on the actual waste found on-site, plus time and packaging material needed to prepare the waste according to DOT and EPA compliance. This is certainly not a solution for everyone, and we do provide a simple hazardous waste inventory guide to help clients, but many people choose to have TRC take care of their chemical waste clean up from the start.



If your hazardous waste clean up project is large or complicated, or if your company doesn't have in-house environmental safety expertise, having TRC work on your chemical waste clean up from the start is a helpful solution. This is a tremendous benefit when internal resources or knowledge are not available to you. Clients simply contact TRC and schedule a time for the TRC Environmental Services team to come on-site. Under a T&M agreement, our professional team will:

  • sort your waste
  • organize wate by type
  • complete an inventory of your waste
  • package the waste in approved transport containers
  • prepare the required paperwork for shipment

Finally, TRC loads the waste onto our truck and hauls it off site to be processed and/or recycled. Our fees for this service include mileage charged to get the team on-site, an hourly labor rate for staff, and cost for packaging used needed, along with the disposal fees. One job, one invoice. We asked one of our recent clients about his experience using this exact service. He recommends, "Hire someone like TRC to handle it from start to finish. It was a big process, and your guys made it so much easier. It takes a lot of pressure off of you by having a qualified company handle it in a proper way."




At this point you have chosen to either create a waste inventory on your own or hire TRC to complete one, and your project will be handed from the account representative over to our environmental services team, the people trained to safely handle and mange hazardous wastes. 


Our team arrives on site at the scheduled time and begin to categorize all of the waste by DOT hazard classes and chemical compatibility. Each category is then inventoried before being packaged into UN-rated drums. The void space in the drums is filled with a loose packing media to prevent items from shifting during transit and to soak up any liquids that may spill. Each drum is assigned EPA waste codes and a shipping description from the DOT Hazardous Materials Table. All items are shipped either on a hazardous materials bill of lading or a Uniform Hazardous Waste Manifest. The on-site team prepares all of the shipping documents, labels, markings, and profiles required to legally transport your waste for disposal and/or recycling. The profile forms describe the waste to the disposal facility to ensure that an appropriate treatment plan is utilized. Clients receive copies of all shipping documents for their records.


Once the waste is shipped from the client's site is it brought back to TRC's licenses, 10-day transfer facility in Little Canada, MN. From there it is placed onto a semi-trailer with waste from other generators (clients) and shipped to the disposal facility for final processing. Upon receipt of the waste, the disposal facility signs the shipping documents and sends a copy of the now completed shipping document back to the original generator (that's you!) to help them maintain compliance.

You can read more about hazardous waste recycling and Envrionmental Services with TRC, or consult our team now with your questions!


Free Hazardous Waste Consultation

Changes in CRT Recycling PROCESS


CRTs and CRT Glass were once easily recycled into new CRTs; however, the demand for new CRTs has collapsed in favor of new flat panel technologies.

Because of rising costs, negative economic incentives, and shifts in CRT glass markets, some CRT processors and recyclers are choosing to store the glass indefinitely, rather than send it for recycling (or disposal), which increases the risk of mismanagement and/or abandonment of the CRTs.

– US EPA, September 2014 


In the electronics recycling industry, waste processing changes over time as methods improve or markets shift. CRT recycling used to be what is known as a 'closed loop process' where old leaded glass tubes were recycled into new ones; however, new technology does not use leaded glass tubes. (Think: flat panel tv's and computer monitors.) There is no longer a need for the leaded glass which used to be a commodity. With the absense of a downstream outlet for leaded glass the commodity, the market no longer supported these businesses, and some recyclers began stockpiling CRT waste.

We now know that some computer recycling companies stockpiled and left behind over 100 million pounds of CRT tubes and glass when they went out of business, and that "Materials Processing Corp. (MPC) in Minnesota went out of business after being fined $125,000 by the state for improperly storing crushed cathode ray tubes." One company in Kentucky admitted to illegally dumping electronic waste into a hole in their backyard.

Due to these changes recycling companies now needed a new and stable way to handle this CRT waste that didn't rely on the commodity market to support their business, and waste generators still need a safe and reliable way to handle their end-of-life electronics. As a waste generator, you are responsible for seeing to the safe and legal disposal or recycling of your end-of-life electronics. Finding a reputable recycling partner is the best way to reduce your liability, so let's take a closer look at the mineable cell solution in CRT recycling that is now being used.


When televisions and computer monitors containing CRT leaded glass are received at the end facility, they are dismantled by hand. The tube is separated from other recyclable materials and sent to a shredding facility where leaded glass is further separated from steel components. The steel is recycled and crushed leaded glass is then treated with a proprietary solution to stabilize it. Each batch of crushed material is tested and must pass two TCLP (Toxic Characteristics Leaching Procedure) tests in order to be placed into a mineable cell. The Mineable Cell Solution Process is a procedure designed to effectively treat leaded glass from CRT waste material so that it may be safely stored until such time as a need for it occurs or when recycling methods have again advanced to a point where this waste can be effectively recycled into usable materials.



TRC's approved partners offer data security, certified recycling and end facilities, a vetted recycling process, and documentation you need for reporting, including a certificate of recycling. Visit our webpage about items accepted and be assured you safely and responsibly recycle waste like used electronics from your business.

Ready to recycle? Schedule a pick up at your business now!

Request Recycling Pick Up

Understanding LED Linear T8 tubes

In our previous two blog posts, we discussed LED linear tube options for your LED lighting retrofit. First we gave an introduction and discussed some safety concerns, and then outlined the three types of LED tubes. Keep reading to learn a final set of variables to consider when selecting LED tubes, and next steps to get your project going on the right foot!

Know what you are trying to accomplish when selecting LED tubes

Even when you have the correct combination of linear LED tubes and existing ballast or wiring configuration, simply grabbing an LED tube and installing it may change lighting levels drastically, undoing the original success of a well-designed lighting solution. Safety and compatibility requirements aside, there are two additional primary factors to consider when selecting LED T8 linear lamps to help maintain good lighting design that may already exist in your space. The first is lumen output and the second is the beam angle of the lamp.

When LED tube wattage is too high, the result is an over lit space. This may mean you have more light than you need, and that’s not the end of the world; however, that result means energy is being wasted. You are dismissing potential energy and utility-cost savings. You don’t have the optimum lighting design for your application.
Beam angle is critical. A traditional fluorescent lamp casts light 360 degrees around the linear tube, but T8 LED is available in a range of beam spread from 160 to 325 degrees. Simply put, this beam spread can dramatically affect how a space looks when lit with linear LED. There are specific applications for beam angle, and using the incorrect beam angle could achieve undesired results. For example, a 160-degree beam angle will stripe a fixture and also change the optics of the fixture, once again undoing a well-designed project. A 325-degree beam angle lamp will not "stripe" a fixture and will utilize the optics of the fixture much like a fluorescent bulb.

If you are ready to make a change to energy-efficient LED, and a linear T8 LED seems like the best solution for you, it’s important to understand the variables you will face when confronted with this sizable purchase.

Next Steps for a Successful Lighting Project

  • Look for a neutral vendor, one pushing a single product line or manufacturer should be avoided. Choose someone that can explain the differences between products and price points so you can choose the solution that best fits your needs.

  • Ensure you have partnered with a lighting designer that has seen a variety of these lamps perform. One challenge that we face with this constantly improving technology is that photometric data on the lamps can’t be paired with IES fixture files in some instances.

  • Ask for case studies in industries similar to yours, or ask to see some products in action. It can be very helpful to see these lamps in person.

  • Ask for a test in your space. You may want to hire a reputable lighting partner to install a test area to be sure the results are what you want, and meet your lighting project goals.

  • Consider whether or not you need to increase light levels. Ask whether lighting controls would make sense for your business and lighting project goals. Both of these can impact how much energy a lighting project could save for your organization.

  • Always consult the utility company’s rebate guide to get the system with the most rebate incentive, a higher priced system may result in a lower NET project cost based on rebates. Without understanding these rebate structures, you may be leaving money on the table.


Deeply consider how you would like to approach your lighting upgrade investment, are you simply looking for greater energy efficiency, or do you want to improve lighting, reduce maintenance expenses, and step in to the future with a well-designed system? If you would like to know more about the benefits of a lighting retrofit beyond energy savings, we recommend our article outlining 6 other reasons to retrofit beyond money and energy savings.

If you're ready to get started with your energy efficient lighting upgrade, contact our constultants today!

Consult a Lighting Pro


3 Types of Linear LED Tubes


There are 3 general types of T8 LED tubes used in LED lighting retrofit projects. In this post we evaluate each of these LED linear tube options, sharing best uses, and some pros and cons. If you haven't yet read the previous introduction LED T8 technology, we recommend our post called  "T8 LED LIGHTING RETROFIT INTRODUCTION & SAFETY." Keep reading to learn about the three types and how they can benefit your energy efficient lighting upgrade.


Type A Lamps are a fluorescent ballast compatible lamp with exceptions. These exceptions are expansive, in fact almost every manufacturer suggests consulting their list of compatibilities before installing LED T8 tubes. We have found that there are even scenarios where the LED lamp product is not compatible with ballasts from the same manufacturer.

The benefits of this type are that they come in different wattages and beam angles, and lumen output for this type can be controlled by the existing ballast: Low Power (LP), Normal Power (NP), and High Power (HP). Most often, these lamps are installed as a simple “relamp” project, but it is important to consider the age of your ballasts when choosing this type. If you intend to change ballasts the week after you install these LED lamps, that may undermine the goals and objectives of your project. Whether or not type A is going to be the best solution for your project depends greatly on your maintenance story.


Type B lamps are a direct wire lamp, the most dangerous of the three. This lamp requires the ballast to be removed and the sockets wired direct to line voltage. This system will also require an un-shunted socket, where terminals on the ballast are wired independently. Even though the fixtures are to be marked as having a direct wired lamp, the potential for an LED ballast or LED driver type lamp being installed is great. This will cause severe problems including lamp failure, sparking, even fires. Because you eliminate the need for a ballast, these lamps are chosen when trying to maximize maintenance savings, but safety must be part of the overall consideration to choose a lamp of this type. We have shared a quick video that demonstrates how easily this fire hazard can occur


Type C Lamps are an LED lamp with a fixture mounted driver, the drivers are now available with three different standard outputs as well as programmable for more or less output depending on the light levels required. The Type C lamp is also similar to an LED fixture, as you have a light engine and a separate driver. These lamps aren’t considered nearly as often as they should be. They typically offer the longest life, and dimming capability that the others do not. The reason they’re not chosen as often is due to their higher price point. Total Cost of Owning a lighting system should be evaluated when considering whether these are affordable for your project. The type C lamp has just recently achieved controllability using different Mili-amp Drivers. The drivers are more expensive, but in some instances the will achieve a higher lamp life rating 60,000 versus 50,000 hours.


Curious about what a LED retrofit can do? Check out our collection of case studies!

read more case studies on TRC blog

T8 LED Lighting Retrofit Introduction & Safety


Are you considering a lighting upgrade and have you investigated replacing your T8 fluorescent lamps with T8 LED linear tubes for energy efficiency? This is a wonderful leap in the lighting world, affording lighting designers, facility managers, and other contractors the ability to essentially retrofit existing fluorescent fixtures with LED linear tube options. It can be seen to have benefits and cost savings over a major redesign and new lighting system overhaul; however, there are many considerations to be aware of as you begin planning your lighting project if you only intend to replace fluorescent tubes with LED tubes. Unfortunately, it’s never as simple as just changing a light bulb. Keep reading to learn some of the pitfalls and concerns to keep in mind as you learn about LED T8 lamps.

Be careful when selecting LED T8 replacement tubes

True lighting designers design spaces to be illuminated so they meet industry light level standards and the needs of the people who occupy a space allowing them to effectively do their work. After all, the lighting required in a retail setting or a classroom will be dramatically different than what is expected in a manufacturing facility or operating room.

In the days of fluorescent lighting great design was achieved with the correct combination of lamps, ballasts, and reflectors to gain maximum lighting for as little wattage input as possible using photometric design. This meant that these spaces were as energy-efficient as possible while maintaining adequate light levels for the activity taking place in them. Since the advent of LED technology, specifically Linear LED Tubes, many facilities are looking to make the leap into even greater efficiency by replacing their existing fluorescent tubes with linear LED tubes. See some recommended light levels for specific industries and types of tasks here.

Without replacing the fixtures, linear LED lamps allow facilities to effectively retrofit their fluorescent technology to something more efficient with relative ease. Sounds simple enough, right? Well, unfortunately there are many variables among the available LED tube products and selecting the wrong one to update your existing fixture could lead to a poor outcome ranging from being over lit or ruining your existing lighting design, to dramatic malfunctions that end up being an outright dangerous fire hazard.

In our next Linear T8 LED blog post, we will discuss three types of LED tubes, the scenarios where you might find them, and the potential outcome of incorrect energy efficient lighting retrofit procedure. While we know this technology to be effective, safe, energy-efficient, and that it looks great when properly installed, it is most definitely not a one-size-fits-all solution. 

Are you ready to learn more about planning for your LED lighting retrofit project? Read "How Much Does A Retrofit Cost?"

Get a Free E-Book

Exterior LED Lighting Upgrade

This hotel had inefficient metal halide and incandescent lamps lighting the exterior of their building, with many burned out lamps. The result was a poor quality light that demanded a fair amount of attention and money to maintain. Business managers decided to take action and develop a plan for their exterior LED lighting upgrade with help from The Retrofit Companies.

Before the installation of new lamps and fixtures, TRC project developers came on site to do an 'audit' or count of every type of lamp, wattage, and placement for each that existed in the hotel's exterior lighting system. With this model and insight of the client's goals, the project developer selects new, energy-efficient lighting options to build a new system. Reports are generated to show existing versus proposed lighting systems that calculate energy-savings, environmental impact, and anticipated utility cost reductions - even rebates. Keep reading to see the specifics for this project!



  • Inefficient Metal Halide and Incandescent fixtures retired & recycled
  • Improved light quality
  • Annual savings over $2699
  • Dramatically reduced maintenance costs with long life technology
  • New fixtures contain no mercury
  • LED works great in cold weather


  • Annual lighting cost for exterior lighting reduced by 76%
  • Utility Rebate for this project was $3393
  • kW & kWh reduction = 24%


Total greenhouse gas reduction Metric Tons equivalent to: 19.5

  • Passenger cars not driven for one year 3.8
  • Gallons of gasoline saved 2180
  • Tons of waste recycled vs. land filled 6.78



Interested in more lighting case study examples? We have shared many!

Read more lighting case studies


Recycling Collection Events in Minnesota


Each spring and fall, communities throughout Minnesota hold special waste recycling days for their residents. The Retrofit Companies is called in as a partner at these events, where many times there are multiple vendors to collect all types of waste that cannot or should not be disposed of in the landfill. Those items range from tires and paint, to appliances, batteries, and computers that require proper disposal. Some events have paper shredding, even yard waste collection services, available to their residents. Keep reading to see how one of our parters responded after their recent community recycling collectin programs event.

Hi Everyone,

The spring cleanup is over!  It was a busy one this year- whew!  I am glad that we had such good partners to make the event successful and available to residents! I would like to pass on my thanks to everyone from your organization who worked the event.  Every single worker was happy to be there and seemed to be smiling through the event (even if they didn’t stop moving until after event).   There were no issues and the only comments from residents seems to be about the wonderful weather!   

I would appreciate if you could send me an invoice with the weights and quantities in the next few weeks so that I can update our Council with the outcome of the event. 

Again, I wish to pass on my thanks to your employees who worked the event and I look forward to working with you in the future.

I have attached some photos from the event to this email!  If you have any questions please do not hesitate to send me an email or give me a jingle on the phone!   

Chris S.
Environmental/Code Specialist
City of Maplewood MN





  How to plan your community recycling day

Understanding LED Maintenance Challenges (Link)

We like this article from Electrical Contractor Magazine about the challenges that users might experience regarding lighting maintenance and LED upkeep. Many manufacturers and installers may try and convince you that LED is it he ultimate set it and forget it solution, and while that sentiment feels true compared to the regular maintenance required by fluorescent lighting system, there are still a few considerations to keep in mind regarding LED maintenance.

This article discusses reliability of LED lighting, understanding lamp life with respect to useful lamp life, and how to understand variables in product quality across brands. It concludes with some overlooked maintenance factors for LED: cleaning, controls, and proactive troubleshooting

Concise and easily understood, we recommend you check this one out!

Benzoyl Peroxide: Potentially Explosive Waste


Many times our clients ask us to properly dispose of hazardous wastes that have collected over the years. These are chemicals and products that have outlived their usefulness, but aren't easy to dispose of alongside standard trash items. It is important to responsibly handle these products within your business, so today we will share with you a specific type of compound that can become an unstable and explosive waste over time, and that we find with regularity. 


Peroxides are a class of chemical compounds with unusual stability problems and are one of the most hazardous classes of chemicals routinely handled in the laboratory.

Peroxides can be formed via intentional chemical reactions (i.e., ozonolysis), but just as hazardous is inadvertent peroxide formation during storage of certain compounds. Some compounds form explosive peroxides. Others are polymerizable unsaturated compounds that can participate a runaway, explosive polymerization reaction catalyzed by peroxides. To varying degrees, shock, heat, or friction may cause unexpected explosion of peroxidized organic chemicals.

We talked with Nick, one of our Environmental Specialists, and asked a few questions about benzoyl peroxide compounds and the proper way to handle hazardous waste disposal for these chemicals.

Where does this compound come from- why is it dangerous?

The product shown above was originally the cream hardener used to set automotive body filler. The primary active ingredient is an organic peroxide called Benzoyl Peroxide. This type of chemical, along with quite a few others, can form shock sensitive peroxide crystals as they age and dry out. Essentially, they turn into explosives over time. These aren’t stable explosives like C4 that require a large amount of energy to set them off though. They are very unstable and can explode seemingly spontaneously.

Are these compounds prevalent? Aside from the automotive body filler, what sort of products can this happen to?

I come across chemicals that we suspect have become explosive fairly regularly. In addition to automotive body filler, we see these types of chemicals in other common products. Many types of activators and catalysts for two part systems contain either benzoyl peroxide or methyl ethyl ketone peroxide, both of which can become unstable. In addition, there are a number of common laboratory solvents which can form unstable peroxide crystals. The two most common solvents we come across that exhibit these characteristics are toluene and ethyl ether.

What do you do when you arrive on a job site and find them?

When we encounter these materials we segregate them as safely as possible and work with the customer and a team of reactive specialists to safely remove the materials from the site.

What should our clients do if they find something like this or think they might have one of these compounds on site? How can they safely address this or identify a safety concern?

In the case of an emergency, they should always call 911. If it is a non-emergency situation, then we can help. It is important not to disturb the materials any more than necessary. I typically recommend that the area be quarantined to the best of the customer’s ability. Once younotify your TRC Environmental Representative, we will work to find a resolution ASAP.

Thanks, Nick. That was really helpful! 

Click through to read the interview with one of our clients who had this waste in their facility. Find out how they were able to safely manage it!

Managing Haz Waste in Schools Interview

Interview: Chemical Waste Clean Up in Schools


Today we talk to Dan Swanson, Building and Grounds Supervisor at Hermantown Schools about his recent first experience with The Retrofit Companies’ environmental services division. Dan is very near his retirement and working to tie up loose ends before he leaves his facility to the new supervisor. One of his looming jobs was to safely and responsibly take care of special wastes that had accumulated over the years. He chose to hire TRC for the first time ever to handle this chemical waste clean up project, and was willing to take some time to share the story with us. Let’s see what he has to say!


How did you hear about TRC? 

Your rep contacted me by e-mail. The timing was right, we needed the service, so I got in touch with them.


What made you decide to work with us? And what services did TRC provide for you?

We had a fair amount of hazardous waste build-up. There were a lot of things to take care of: paint, cleaning solutions, lights, etc. Our local waste company required us to inventory all the waste prior to disposal, but with TRC, they came and did all that.


Was TRC staff experienced & knowledgeable; were we able to provide a meaningful partnership and make your chemical clean up successful?

They did a great job. We had a short time line and everything just worked out. Our district is building new schools, and I’m set to retire shortly. It was important to take care of the waste before the new guy takes over.


How responsive was your TRC Sales Rep to your questions or concerns?

They are very responsive. Our clean-up project was taken care of in just a couple weeks from the first time I called.


Tell us about scheduling your cleanup – Were we able to fit your ideal schedule?

I had a small window of time and TRC was very helpful in meeting that time requirement. It took the stress away.


Tell us about your perception of value for the hazardous waste recycling service provided. Was it a good value compared to any other vendors that also provided quotes for the same project?
TRC was competitively priced, and we were happy with the quality of their service.


What advice would you give to other schools that wish clean out their chemical wastes?

Hire someone like TRC to handle it from start to finish. It was a big process, and your guys made it so much easier.


Would you recommend us to your colleagues? If yes, what was the greatest benefit you received by working with us?
Yes.  It takes a lot of pressure off of you by having a qualified company handle it in a proper way.


Thanks for the interview, Dan! We're happy to hear that your experience was a good one. It really does sound like managing hazardous waste was made simpler by working with TRC.

When you are ready to clean up the hazardous and chemical waste in your facility, learn how to choose a reputable hazardous waste vendor or get our inventory kit for free!

Hazardous Waste inventory help

How to Find a Great Lighting Consultant



As you begin researching for your lighting upgrade, looking for lighting consultants, architects, electrical contractors, or other energy experts use this five point check list to see if they are the lighting design partner that you want working on your energy efficient lighting project. It's the best advice we can share when it comes to how to find a great lighting consultant.


How much experience does your chosen lighting contractor have designing, building, and installing successful lighting systems? Is your partner a lighting designer or are you working with an electrical contractor cashing in on keywords like "Energy Efficiency"? We recommend avoiding the LED salesman who hustles to sell as many as possible of a specific product without consideration of your needs. Look for a trusted partner, someone who can answer the important questions. We recommend reading our article "11 Questions to Ask a Lighting Contractor."


There are financial benefits beyond energy savings and reduced utility costs as a result of a lighting retrofit or upgrade. Lower overhead expenses, reduction in maintenance costs, return on investment, and overall cost of ownership should be demonstrated so you can fully understand your project's impact to the bottom line. A qualified lighting partner will help you understand that savings can be derived of many avenues and show you those numbers.


Avoid being pigeonholed by contractors or sales people that only sell specific brands or products and nothing else. Some companies sell only specific product lines, without taking into consideration your lighting needs. You deserve the best-fit products for your lighting system, to meet your lighting and sustainability goals.


Is the design of your lighting system going to take into consideration any short or long term changes in your business, or how the space in your facility is being utilized? Are the new products (fixtures and bulbs) to be installed in your new system easy to acquire? Are they affordable? Be sure that your chosen contractor has a long term plan for you, and that your new lighting products (lamps, drivers, etc.) are easily availalbe and affordable.


Are you confident you can accurately compare bids from multiple vendors? Don't compare apples to oranges. We recommend starting smart by investing in a lighting study - start your project with a document in hand that carefully takes into consideration your facility, your goals, and your specific required outcomes. An investment grade audit document will help you do that. 


E-book: Why should you invest in a lighting study?

Xcel Energy LED Retrofit Rebates Expanded


Beginning July 1, 2016 Excel Energy is expanding their LED lighting rebate offerings for retrofit projects and new construction. Significant to this update is the inclusion of another type of 4 foot LED linear tube rebate for retrofit projects valued at $6 per lamp. Benefits for other tube type LED retrofits range from $2 to $10 per tube based on type.

The entire rebate structure for retrofits and new construction projects is available online for you here. This utility rebate program is available to Minnesota business customers of Xcel Energy.

Other rebate types for LED upgrades included in this program:

  • Exterior lighting such as parking garages, wall packs, parking lot, canopy lights and area lights.
  • Refrigeration lighting for freezers and refrigerators in convenience and grocery stores
  • Interior lighting including troffers, linear tubes, screw-ins, hibay and low bay lighting, and exit signs


Why upgrade to LEDs?

According to the U.S. Department of Energy, LEDs offer the potential for cutting general lighting energy use nearly in half by 2030, saving energy dollars and carbon emissions in the process. Additionally, they offer several advantages over conventional lighting:

  • A long life span, typically up to 50,000 hours or more, which can greatly reduce replacement and maintenance costs
  • They create a bright, shadow-free environment that can improve the safety and comfort of your employees and customers
  • Durability and reliability, they’re less prone to breakage and contain no mercury  
    Read the LED Information Sheet here.


If you're ready to learn more about how to get a rebate for your lighting project, please contact one of our lighting design experts today!

Consult a Lighting Pro

Aerosol Can Recycling Process


Aerosol can disposal has recently undergone some changes in Minnesota and The Retrofit Companies has designed a program for Minnesota businesses to take advantage of these new regulations. Under this program TRC accepts waste aerosols for recycling or disposal on our Universal Waste Bill of Lading. Aerosols may be packaged into any of our UN-rated shipping containers and picked up on our truck with your other universal wastes. No additional paperwork is required.

Aerosols are shipped to our Licensed Universal Waste Collection Facility in Little Canada, MN for additional sorting/processing. Waste aerosols are then shipped to our partner disposal facility where they are fully drained. Finally, the drained liquids and gases are blended into fuel or incinerated and the empty cans are recycled as scrap metal. In essence this process is converting the waste into heat energy.

Under the new regulations, Minnesota businesses will no longer be allowed to depressurize aerosols at their facility unless they fully capture all of the gas and liquid inside. Previously many business owners were using a depressurizing system which only filtered the escaping gases. These gases were then being released into our atmosphere. Under our program all the contents of each aerosol are captured, preventing any release to the atmosphere.

For questions about this process or how to get started with aerosol can recycling, please contact our Haz Team today.

If you are ready for a pick up at your Minnesota business:

Schedule a pick up for your aerosol waste

Aerosol Can Recycling as Universal Waste in Minnesota


The MPCA has officially adopted aerosols into the universal waste program.  Aerosol cans may now be recycled on our standard Universal Waste Bill of Lading with TRC in the state of Minnesota. When you schedule a pick up for other recyclable waste like, fluorescent lamps, batteries, electronic waste (computers), or mercury, you can now add in any waste aerosol cans without additional paperwork under TRC's new program for these common wastes. 


Aerosol spray is a type of dispensing system which creates an aerosol mist of liquid particles. This is used with a can or bottle that contains a payload and propellant under pressure. When the container's valve is opened, the payload is forced out of a small hole and emerges as an aerosol or mist... (



  • Spray Paints
  • Air Fresheners
  • Spray Foam Insulation
  • Oven Cleaners
  • Insecticide Sprays
  • Spray lubricants
  • And many more…


  • Propane gas cylinders
  • MAP gas cylinders
  • Automotive refrigerants
  • Lighters/fluid refills
  • Calibration gas cylinders
  • Spray foam (cylinders)
  • Engine starter (cylinders)

The Retrofit Companies has designed this program for businesses in Minnesota as an outlet to simplify aerosol can recycling, this includes containers with a spray nozzle top or valve where pressurized contents are released as a mist. Although, pressurized gas containers are not considered a part of this program; TRC can help you responsibly dispose of them, just contact our Haz Team anytime! (All businesses outside of Minnesota, our team is still able to assist in finding the best, proper recycling or disposal method for you. Contact our Haz Team)

If you are ready for a pick up at your Minnesota business:

Schedule a pick up for your aerosol waste

INTERVIEW: HOW TO START A Community Collection


Today, we are interviewing Chris from City of Maplewood. He has worked with TRC to organize community recyclign collection events for the past several collection seasons. The last event was successful for them, so we asked if he was willing to talk a bit about their experience. We're happy to say that he was and said we could share the conversation here. Hopefully, this insight will help other communities with how they can start a community recycling collection. Keep reading to learn about how their successful event came together!


Tell us about selecting the date/time for the event.
There really is no rhyme or reason for our date. That was a day that the Aldrich Arena was available and it also worked for the majority of the vendors that we talked with.

How did you select the site for the event to be held? What logistics and accessibility concerns did you have to take into consideration?
The Aldrich Arena is a great site to run a cleanup event. It has a lot of available space for the vendor staging and has the ability to handle long vehicle lines safely if it gets busy.

Did City of Maplewood absorb any recycling costs on behalf of the residents?
The city normally covers around 50-60% of the costs for disposal.

Why did you select to work with TRC? 
We have worked with TRC for the past few events and their staff has been very helpful and professional in during the events. The city also went out for pricing and TRC has the most competitive pricing.


ALL PHOTOS PROVIDED BY CITY OF MAPLEWOOD: Cars line up at the site, and drive through to drop off their appliances, computers, and other recyclable wastes. Generally, residents stay inside their vehicles while workers unload. (left) TRC workers and event volunteers unload vehicles, and sort items to be loaded onto recycling trucks. (right) 

Was TRC staff experienced & knowledgeable? Were we able to provide a meaningful partnership and make your event successful?
The staff was great to work with. The only issue was that our event was so well attended that the trucks filled up and the driver had to swing back and make a few trips to get everything from the site to their warehouse after the event. Even with the craziness of the event their staff was still able to handle the extreme workload placed on them!

Was there any community volunteer involvement to help offset labor costs at the event and promote community involvement, or did you have any volunteers at the event to help unload and manage traffic?
The city partnered with Ramsey County Sentence to Serve for volunteers and has staff from both Tennis sanitation (the events vendor) and some folks from the City’s Public works crews. 

At the time of the event (or after) did you receive any resident feedback on the event? 
People loved the event! The lines stayed moving and the weather was wonderful. The last few years it has rained or snowed during the event so people just seemed generally happy to enjoy the nice day.

How does the city promote these events to its residents?
We use newsletters, Twitter, Facebook, and our website.

appliance-recycling-and-collection.jpgAppliances are loaded onto trucks to be shipped and recycled at a TRC end-facility. (left) Palletized CPU's and televisions in a cubic yard box are prepared for shipping while on site before loading into trucks. (right)

What advice would you give to other communities that wish to plan their first, or improve their existing recycling collection events?
Plan, promote, repeat! Also, talk with the vendors to make sure that everything will be in place and that everyone understands what is expected at the event from staff and vendors.

Outside of these events, how does your city help promote responsible waste disposal? How can people get rid of these items if they don’t come to a collection event?
We receive many calls from residents and we always work to direct them to responsible methods of disposal. The Ramsey County A to Z disposal guide is a very helpful, too, for residents.

How can people get in touch with City of Maplewood or find more information about your community events?
Our website at​ has all the information, people can also follow us on twitter @MaplewoodMN.

Thanks again to City of Maplewood for choosing TRC as a partner & to Chris for the interview. If your community is thinking about planning an event, start by reading "How to Plan Your Own Community Recycling Day" right here on the blog.

How to plan your community recycling day



Identify Radioactive Exit Signs


Radioactive waste disposal is somewhat uncommon, but responsible disposal is a necessity when the time comes. We recently discussed the disposal of Tritium Exit signs, but what are they and how can we identify them? 

What is Tritium?

It's a radioactive gas used in some self-luminous signage. Commonly found in exit signs. It was also a byproduct of nuclear reactions, released into the environment as a result of nuclear tests peaking in the 1960's.

Where are these exit signs found? Estimated 2 million sold in the United States in the last two decades. These signs are found in institutions, hospitals, schools, even airplanes.



One way to immediately identify a potentially radioactive sign is to note whether or not it is wired for electricity, if it is not, but still glows, it could be Tritium. These products are not all labeled in a standard manner. Look for the "Radioactive" symbol, which may be presented in any color or size. You might see with any combination of these words and abbreviations, then look at the reference image below with the keywords highlighted:

  • Radioactive
  • Tritium
  • Curie
  • Becquerel
  • Nuclear Regulatory Commission
  • H3 or H-3
  • Ci
  • GBq
  • TBq
  • NRC
  • USNRC 


Additionally, there are regulatory requirements to follow when these signs are in use. We recommend becoming familiar with the NRC site resources. From NRC: 

Under NRC regulations, a general licensee using a tritium EXIT sign must:

  • NOT remove the labeling or radioactive symbol or abandon the sign;
  • properly dispose of an unwanted sign (see below);
  • report to the NRC or appropriate Agreement State any lost, stolen or broken sign;
  • inform the NRC or Agreement State of changes to the name or address of the general licensee or the person in charge of complying with the regulations;
  • NOT give away or sell the sign unless it is to remain in use at its original location; in such a case, the general licensee making the transfer must give the new owner a copy of the regulations and report the transfer to the NRC or Agreement State within 30 days.

TRC's Haz Team is available if you have questions - Contact us here! If you're ready to safely recycle these exit signs now, RecyclePak is a great solution.

Easily Recycle Radioactive Exit Signs

responsibly dispose of radioactive exit signs


Tritium EXIT signs are recognizable by their ability to glow in low light conditions without being connected to a power source. When intact, they do not pose an immediate danger, although they are radioactive. Care should be taken when handling or storing them as they are very fragile. The Nuclear Regulatory Commission licenses these devices and they may not be disposed of in the trash. 

The US EPA says,

Tritium [enters] the environment from illegal disposal of exit signs in municipal landfills. As water seeps through landfills, it can spread the tritium from the broken signs. Regulations require that tritium exit signs be returned to a licensed facility for disposal. View online training: “Tritium Exit Signs, Responsible Management.”
Where are they found? Estimated 2 million sold in the United States in the last two decades. These signs are found in institutions, hospitals, schools, even airplanes.
What is Tritium? It's a radioactive gas used in some self-luminous signage. Commonly found in exit signs. It was also a byproduct of nuclear reactions, released into the environment as a result of nuclear tests peaking in the 1960's.

TRC has two disposal options available:

The first option is our full service solution, available within our service area. The full service process is very much like the box program, only we put in all the labor to make it happen. 
  • TRC representative drives out to location
  • TRC inventories every sign including:
    • manufacturer name
    • model numbers
    • serial numbers
    • isotope
    • activity level
    • shelf life
  • TRC packages signs, fills out shipping documents, and transports the signs off site
  • TRC arranges transportation to disposal facility and provides confirmation to customer

The second is our pre-paid recycling service, RecyclePak. With this service, you order the package type for your waste, pack your waste items, and then return the package with a single call after you attach the included pre-paid shipping label. A single payment takes care of the entire transaction. Three package size options are availble online in our shop.


Easily Recycle Radioactive Exit Signs

Xcel Energy Efficiency Awards 2016

Jeff Jackson of Xcel Energy presents Energy Efficiency Partner award to Wendy Fry and Jack Jenson on April 13, 2016 (See 2015 Award)


Thanks to Xcel Energy for including TRC in this year's group of esteemed Energy Efficiency Partner award recipients for 2016. Read below for their press release and information on the recent awards event:


MINNEAPOLIS – Xcel Energy recently recognized 36 Minnesota businesses for their outstanding efforts to help customers save energy and reduce their environmental impact. The awards, presented April 13 at Pinstripes in Edina, recognized contractors, equipment suppliers and engineers that contributed the greatest electricity and natural gas savings to Xcel Energy’s Minnesota conservation programs in 2015. 

The rebates submitted by these 36 companies saved customers 56 gigawatt-hours of electricity and 69,000 dekatherms of natural gas. According to the Environmental Protection Agency’s Greenhouse Gas Equivalencies Calculator, that’s the equivalent of powering 3,800 homes for a year.

Xcel Energy offers incentives, such as rebates and funding for energy efficiency studies and upgrades, to its business and residential customers to encourage them to make energy-efficient choices. Through the help of this group of partners, Xcel Energy distributed more than $5 million in energy efficiency rebates for the various projects completed, which is about 15 percent of the total amount of rebates paid in Minnesota by Xcel Energy last year.

The rebates dollars also helped fund capital projects and create jobs. The Minnesota Department of Commerce reports an 80 percent increase in energy efficiency businesses in Minnesota since 2000 and a 49 percent increase in energy efficiency jobs.

“Xcel Energy’s trade partners are valuable allies that really make these projects happen,” said Jeff Jackson, Xcel Energy trade relations manager. “They help us reach our aggressive energy conservation goals, save customers money and help them reduce their environmental impact.”


The 36 companies recognized were:  Apollo Heating and Ventilating ● Cal-Tex Electric Inc. ● Home Service Plus ● Collins Electrical Construction Co. ● Compressed Air Concepts LLC ● Corval Group ● Dakota Supply Group St. Paul ● Data Center Systems Inc. ● Egan Mechanical ● Focus Lighting and Controls Inc. ● Golden Valley Heating & Air ● HomeSmart ● HumeraTech ● Inflow ● Ingersoll Rand Minnesota ● John Henry Foster ● Johnson Controls Plymouth ● Louis Degidio Inc. ● Midwest Mechanical Solutions ● Mulcahy Company Inc. ● NHA Heating and Air Conditioning ● Northern Air Corp. ● Premier Lighting Inc. ● Pronto Heating & Air Conditioning ● Schadegg Mechanical Inc. ● Schwantes Heating and Air Conditioning ● Snelling Company ● Standard Heating & Air Conditioning ● State Supply ● The Retrofit Cos. ● Trane St. Paul ● UHL Company ● Viking Electric Minneapolis ● Voss Lighting ● Warwick Industries ● Werner Electric Cottage Grove

 For more information on Xcel Energy’s energy efficiency programs, visit


For additional information on rebates and programs contact us for a consult any time!

Talk to a Consultant About Rebates

MPCA Rule update for Haz Waste Paperwork Burden


A new rule was handed down from the MPCA (Minnesota Pollution Control Agency) affecting hazardous waste generators in some metro area Minnesota counties. In short, it relieves some of the paperwork burden for our hazardous waste generator customers.

With the exception of Anoka and Scott counties, generators are no longer required (unless specifically told to do so) to send any copy of a Uniform Hazardous Waste Manifest in to the MPCA.The requirement for mailing three signature copies to Anoka and Scott counties does not apply to PCB manifests. In all instances it is still required that all generators retain copies of all Manifests for a minimum of 3 years. Read on for more details and links:


Do I have to send copies of my manifests to anyone?

*As of April 30, 2016, the MPCA and Carver, Dakota, Hennepin, Ramsey, and Washington Counties no longer require generators of any size to send any manifest copies to them, unless explicitly requested. Do not submit a copy unless explicitly requested. Copies voluntarily submitted will not be reviewed or retained.

All generators of any size in Anoka and Scott County must submit a copy of the Designated Facility to Generator Copy (3-signature copy) to their county within 40 days of the designated facility’s receipt of the waste.

Note: The submittal requirements for Anoka and Scott County do not apply to manifests used for shipping only PCB wastes. Instead, keep these copies in your records and ensure you meet any additional PCB requirements. See MPCA fact sheet #w-hw4-48d, Manifest and Dispose of PCBs, at:


Learn more about Manifest Shipments of Hazardous Waste with this guidance document.

If you have specific questions about this rule or others, you can contact our Haz Team any time!


Consult Hazardous Waste Professionals


How to Plan Your Own Community Recycling Day (REPOST)

This article was first published in April 2013, but at the height of our collection season we wanted to share it again. 


Community recycling collection programs help keep Universal Waste out of landfills, and give residents, businesses and other community members a place to safely and responsibly recycle waste that is otherwise difficult to dispose of through regular trash handling firms. These events are referred to as Spring Clean Ups or Household Hazardous Waste Collection days and are generally held in the spring or fall as large events with many waste vendors; however, some communities establish year-round collection sites, too.

Community Recycling Programs are specifically designed to cater to the community’s waste needs and disposal requirements. Waste streams commonly collected at events can include: Universal & Hazardous Wastes like Fluorescent Lamps, Batteries, Ballasts, Electronics, and Mercury Items. Other common wastes that could be collected are Paints, Chemicals, Solvents, Tires, and Commercial & Household Appliances; even old furniture, mattresses and other items that are difficult to dispose or recycle.

recycling collection eventWe encourage the following considerations for communities in the planning stages for recycling days:

What is the best location for your event?

  • Consider ease of access for cars, large trucks and vehicles with trailers.
  • Also consider where the vendors will set up semi-trailers, cubic yard boxes, dumpsters and collection containers.
  • Traffic should be able to easily flow in and out of the area safely.
  • Events generally require large open areas, easy to access, but away from busy streets with a lot of traffic.

Who will staff the event & how many people are needed?

  • Will employees of the vendors be responsible for all of the labor? 
  • Will employees of the City, County or Business heading up the event be responsible for providing helpers on site?
  • Are community groups able to volunteer?
  • Be sure that helpers are available for the duration of the event. Keep in mind that shorter hours open might mean heavy traffic flow, and longer hours may subject the helpers to more standing around time.

What time(s) will be best for your event?

  • Many communities cater to residents by holding events on weekend days. Saturday mornings are very common.
  • Other “events” are set up as permanent collection sites.

What items will be accepted?

  • Wastes accepted will be determined by the vendors available at the event. 
  • Vendors will accept only the special wastes they are licensed to haul and recycle. 
  • Keep in mind safety and local rules and regulations. 
  • Example; if you are going to accept hazardous waste such as flammable wastes or chemicals you will need to be sure to have properly trained staff available to work.

Who funds/organizes community collections?

Events can be organized by any City, State, County, Business or Community group. The methods for funding such events can range from fees for each item charged to the person disposing of them and money is collected on site, to a portion or all of the event’s fees being covered by the organizer. Below are some more specifics.

Cities (Most cities have drop off sites for residential waste, some also organize clean-up day/days)

States (Sometimes there are grants set up for cities/counties to help fund events/drop off sites)

Counties (You can usually check with your county for information on drop off sites for different waste streams, some also help fund community recycling events and recycling centers)

Businesses (Some businesses, usually larger corporations, organize recycling events for their employees, in most cases funded by the business)

Tax payers (Some cities/counties charge a fee for recycling that helps fund recycling centers/initiatives. This is a tax fee taken out. Some collection events also charge a fee for certain items being dropped off, while other items are free.)

describe the image

How to start a community collection:

1. Determine a location for the event. Ensure there is plenty of room to set up cubic yard boxes/pallets, trucks, and that traffic will easily move in and out of the collection area.

2. Figure out what hours and which day to have the event and the amount of helpers/volunteers/employees will be required.

3. Contact a local and reputable recycling company. Use resources such as a county website which also usually lists collection dates already in place, or provide a list of disposal resources for all types of waste. If you cannot find these online, call your county and ask for the department that handles environmental services, household hazardous waste, or Universal and special waste recycling. They should be able to direct you to the resources you need.

Here are three examples of listings found for Hennepin County, Ramsey County, and Steele County Minnesota

4. Finally, be sure you are hiring a reputable recycler. Do your own background checking on the company/companies being considered for the event. Ask for current licenses and a list of end facilities or waste processors. You will want to make sure that all the items community members are recycling is being handled properly. 

Another point you should consider in a recycling company would be experience. If this is the first event held in your community, you will want a recycling company that has worked a history of collection events to help you through – ask for references and be sure to check into them.

5. Once you have determined your chosen recycling vendor is reputable, other details can be worked out with the company you decide to hire for the event. Your community is on it's way to increasing the amounts of Universal and Hazardous Wastes that are responsibly recycled!

Has your community ever had a recycling event? What worked best for you? Share your ideas here, or contact our reps to get started!

Contact TRC

Pre-Paid Recycling Program


TRC is stepping up our services with RecyclePak®, an easy, pre-paid recycling solution for small quantities of Universal Waste, such as fluorescent lamps, batteries, ballasts, batteries, and mercury waste. Simply select the container for your waste type, and it is delivered to you. With one payment you receive a shipping container, mailing label, on-site pickup, recycling fees, and a Certificate of Recycling for compliance.

This recycling service is great for companies that generally do not accumulate a lot of waste, or do not require frequent waste pickups. It's also a really good solution for businesses with multiple locations dealing with waste management. RecyclePak allows for an easy implementable, easily manageable, and affordable solution to be put into place at your business while still benefiting from the exceptional customer service offered by TRC.

Take a look at some of the items that RecyclePak can handle, or visit the shop to see the full offer.


More questions? Check out the full FAQ.


Order RecyclePak Online



Pros and Cons of T8 LED REPLACEMENTS (Links)


A couple weeks ago we shared a video showing how a T8 LED replacement bulb can catch fire if it is incorrectly installed. Because we have committed to being a vendor neutral company we thought a good approach to understanding this technology, and to help guide your decision making, would be to provide the perspective from many different angles, including a look at how things have changed since the onset of this technology. Here's a link round up of some of the best articles we could find.

"Many believe that the LED tube industry has not matured to a trustworthy level, but manufacturers have improved thermal management, and installations now range from Fortune 100 companies to leading health care institutions to leading higher-education institutions." Read more

This article was published a couple years ago, but "8 Reasons To Consider LED Replacement Bulbs..." still holds strong. Efficiencies, realiability, and product selection have only improved in that time!

When you're ready to make the change, we recommend working with a lighting design professional; however, you may still be interested in how to chooseT12 and T8 LED replacements. EarthLED covers five important considerations in this article.


Should You Replace Your T8 Fluorescent Lamps with T8 LED Tubes?


We like this article because it digs into details, outlines hands-on testing of a couple popular LED T8 lamps, and discusses the strong points and pitfalls of them.

When choosing between LED and Fluorescent T8 configurations, it may be helpful to consider the ten problems with fluorescent lighting outlined here!

Here's a simple tutorial, How to Install a T8 LED Replacement...and if you haven't seen our video, this is how NOT to install it!

There are safety concerns with T8 LED fluorescent lighting, this article discusses some of the original pitfalls of the technology. We believe that advances in LED technology has been dramatic since that time; however, concerns still ring true today in some respects. "From our perspective, many of the retrofit LED lamps in the market are unsafe. The retrofit tube model with integrated driver just doesn’t work in a secure or reliable way." Be sure you know your system is compatible!

Find out if you're a good candidtate for a retrofit by learning about some common lighting problems: Do you have lighting problems?


Get new blog posts via email

Posts by topic