The Retrofit Companies Blog

Choosing a Reputable Partner Minimizes Your Risks for Regulated Waste Related Fines


One of the most important concepts for generators of waste to understand is Cradle-to-Grave.  You can see the EPA’s definition HERE.  But, in a nut shell, this means that the generator of waste is responsible to ultimate disposal.  Nothing will relinquish a generator of this responsibility and there’s no expiration date or time limit.  Hiring someone else to transport and dispose of your waste does NOT transfer responsibility. 

Read more:


Recently, charges have been filed against two vendors who were previously trusted to properly handle their clients’ waste.

Luminaire Environmental and Technologies Inc. Plymouth, MN

Recycletronics Sioux City, IA

Because the actions of your chosen vendors can also negatively affect your company image, as well as result in fines and other additional fees for you, it’s important to know the following about anyone you allow to manage your regulated waste:

  • Can they provide names and contacts to current customers (similar to you) as references?
  • Does the vendor have adequate insurance? They should be able to provide not only commercial liability, but also pollution coverage.
  • Where does the waste go? Can the vendor provide all downstream channel and facility information?
  • What documentation and paperwork is provided? Depending on the waste type, waste profiles and hazardous waste manifests may be required. Certificates of Recycling/disposal should be provided every shipment, and your vendor should be able to provide you with usage reports, as requested.

You should be prepared and have a plan. [Check out our blog for help preparing a waste management plan.] Monitor and manage your plan, and the service provided to ensure you are in compliance should never be overlooked.

At The Retrofit Companies, your environmental compliance is our top priority. We offer a range of environmental services, assisting with material inventories, legal documentation, and access to approved packaging options. In addition to proper shipping procedures and an extensive network of disposal partners, rest assured that your waste handling and recycling needs are covered by TRC. We're here to be the hazardous waste recycling and disposal partner you are looking for.  

Consult our haz waste team


CRT TV and Monitor Recycling



crt-recycling-process.jpgUPDATED FEBRUARY 2017

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 less need for the leaded glass which used to be a commodity, so they are getting problematic for some recyclers.

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.

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. A comprehensive e-waste recycling program protects your company from unnecessary complications and costs while improving your business and the environment.

what happEns to the crt's we COLLECT?

Your compliance, security, and safety is our priority. TRC’s partner recycles all equipment to its individual commodity components and separates all hazardous materials on-site to meet U.S. Environmental Protection Agency requirements. They maintain a state-of-the art, automated de-manufacturing and recycling system that provides an effective, economical solution for recycling obsolete monitors and televisions into various new glass uses and products. Using downstream vendors that provide a recycling or reuse process is the preferred method of recycling by state and federal agencies. Waste is sorted by type and chemistry to produce glass that is ready for the downstream companies, This process for CRT glass processing meets and exceeds all federal regulations and guidelines regarding the CRT Rule. All protocols meet U.S. Environmental Protection Agency regulations, while safely processing the glass with no exposure to the environment.

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

2016 Residential E-waste Recycling Prices for TRC

UPDATE: May 9, 2016 New price for Microwave Recycling

EFFECTIVE FEBRUARY 1, 2016 new residential e-waste recycling prices will take effect for TRC's locations in Owatonna and Little Canada. These prices are in effect for residential drop off customers only. For business pricing, you may get a quote from our reps by calling 800-795-1230.

All monitors, screens, televisions will be $20 each. All other e-waste, including laptops, will be $0.10 per pound.

$0.10 per pound for these items:

· CPUs & Computer Towers
· Tablet PCs
· Keyboards
· Mice
· Printers
· Fax Machines
· DVD Players
· Laptop Computers 

$20 each for these items:

· Televisions
· Computer monitors
· TV DVD-VCR combinations
· Monitors for home security
· Monitors for CCTV systems
· All in one computers
· eBook readers
· Digital picture frames
· Portable DVD players
· Microwaves (other household appliances $30 each)


Learn how to find a responsible electronics recycling company

2015-16 computer Recycling Prices for TRC

household computer recycling

EFFECTIVE FEBRUARY 1, 2016 new residential e-waste recycling prices will take effect for TRC's locations in Owatonna and Little Canada. These prices are in effect for residential drop off customers only. For business pricing, you may get a quote from our reps by calling 800-795-1230.

All monitors, screens, televisions will be $20 each. All other e-waste, including laptops, will be $0.10 per pound.

For business pricing, you may get a quote from our reps by calling 800-795-1230 or EMAILING US HERE.



· Tablet PCs
· Keyboards
· Mice
· Printers
· Fax Machines
· DVD Players
· Laptop Computers 

· Televisions
· Computer monitors
· TV DVD-VCR combinations
· Monitors for home security
· Monitors for CCTV systems
· All in one computers
· eBook readers
· Digital picture frames
· Portable DVD players


Learn how to find a responsible electronics recycling company

New Residential E-waste Recycling Prices for TRC


Beginning September 1, 2014 new residential e-waste recycling prices will take effect for TRC's locations in Owatonna and Little Canada. These prices are in effect for residential drop off customers only. For business pricing, you may get a quote from our reps by calling 800-795-1230.

All monitors, screens, televisions will be $10 each. All other e-waste, including laptops, will be $0.10 per pound.

$0.10 per pound for these items:

· CPUs & Computer Towers
· Tablet PCs
· Keyboards
· Mice
· Printers
· Fax Machines
· DVD Players
· Laptop Computers 

$10 each for these items:

· Televisions
· Computer monitors
· TV DVD-VCR combinations
· Monitors for home security
· Monitors for CCTV systems
· All in one computers
· eBook readers
· Digital picture frames
· Portable DVD players


Learn how to find a responsible electronics recycling company

Wireless LED Controls, Recycling Grant Program & the Impact of Irresponsible Recycling


This manufacturer offers a wirelessly controlled LED system that looks pretty cool. “Another useful function of smart lights is security. Instead of leaving a few lights on for the entirety of your vacation, in the hopes of fooling a very unobservant criminal, you can control them from the beach…” If you’re interested in a commercial version, let us know!


T12 lamps and ballasts are no longer manufactured. So, “why do more than 500 million T12 lamps remain in commercial buildings, according to the Department of Energy (DOE, 2010), and why is approximately nearly one in three linear fluorescent lamps sold a T12 (reported by National Electrical Manufacturer Association member sales data for Q3, 2011)?”


Twin Cities group Community POWER has a recycling collection grant program! “The Community POWER Grant Program funds waste reduction projects. Neighborhood organizations, schools, churches, senior citizen groups, youth organizations, and civic groups are invited to apply for funds for projects that will reach individuals who are not currently involved in waste reduction practices.”


The human impact of irresponsible recycling is sadly given a face in this photo essay.  “Injuries like burns, untreated wounds, lung problems, eye damage, and back problems go hand in hand with chronic nausea, anorexia, debilitating headaches and respiratory problems. Almost everyone suffers from insomnia. Smoke and invisible toxins (especially cadmium) harm the careless workers because they often don't know about the risks and walk around in flimsy footwear like flip-flops. Most of them die from cancer while in their 20s.”


Maybe you’ve never considered how a city-wide lighting retrofit could affect the artistic integrity of a place; we thought this story about why “Hollywood will never look the same” was compelling.  “Every night exterior LA-shot film previous to this change is rendered a sort of anthropological artifact, an historical document of obsolete urban infrastructure.”


Americans generated the most e-waste of all countries last year, at 66 pounds per person!  In total “generating 9.4 million metric tons of e-waste, followed by China with 7.3 million metric tons.” 


Learn how to find a responsible electronics recycling company

Energy Efficiency, Electronics Recycling & Solar Flares in the News

“As of now, only ‘forward thinking’ companies consider energy efficiency a strategy for growth. We need to promote this further. There is opportunity here because this is the third resource we have instead of building more power plants.” How banks are extending loans to firms for energy efficiency projects.


The most important energy saving technology is not technology, but behavioral changes made by individuals. Would peer pressure make you more energy efficient?


Executive Recycling Owner Sentenced to 30 Months in Prison for Fraud. 


Are you protecting your sensitive data? How do you know if your recycler is responsibly handling it? 


Why an Easy Energy-Efficiency Bill Is So Hard, claim “No sense of urgency, curse of lowest common denominator”


Myths and facts about Energy Efficiency


“All LED Lighting Is Bluish White” // Lighting Myth or Fact?


Researchers in Hong Kong have discovered that ground-up circuit boards can be used to absorb toxic heavy metals found in water!


“When a solar event takes place, the sun shoots out a huge ball of energy. If it comes in contact with the earth’s magnetic field, it produces a current that is really long – 100s of kilometers long and affects things like utility grids, copper-based telecommunications, pipelines, railways.” What does this have to do with energy management? 


Get our Guide: "Where in the World is Your E-waste Going?"

Preparing A Hazardous Waste Management Plan

Hazardous Waste Management & Chemical Cleanup Resources for Businesses

There are a few obstacles to overcome when safely handling and disposing special waste and preparing a hazardous waste management plan. Aside from the obvious health risks, hazardous waste generators must also be aware of concerns that range from handling and storage to transportation and recycling. This article will help you understand what aspects to consider when deciding on a plan of action to dispose of your business’s special waste, including when to consult a certified Hazardous Waste Recycler.

Chemicals that are not frequently used often accumulate and are overlooked when it comes re recycling on a regular basis. These can be small bottles of miscellaneous chemicals, expired products, aerosols, or even cans of old paint. If you have ever generated any of these things you will remember that finding a recycling outlet can be difficult. Items like these not only tend to collect in our personal basements, but in the storage closets and cabinets at businesses as well. You must be aware that most chemicals, solvents, or any oil based waste are considered Hazardous Waste by the EPA. Your normal garbage company will not take these, so finding a safe and legal disposal method will be up to you.

What hazardous wastes might I have?

The chemical items we previously mentioned are classified as Hazardous Waste for a reason. Exposure to these chemicals or products could be detrimental to the environment and the health of others. Be sure you are properly trained before handling any hazardous waste.  While most businesses have minimal needs for chemical clean outs, there are a few industries where this service is practical and necessary:

  • Manufacturers – Expired products, maintenance chemicals, vendor samples, process wastes, spill waste
  • Educational Institutions – Research waste, lab waste, cleaners, maintenance chemicals, science department chemicals
  • Property Management – Expired products, old paint, expired cleaners, abandoned miscellaneous waste
  • Link to Top 40 Chemical Offenders

Storing & Handling Hazardous Wastes the in Workplace

The easiest way to find information on any chemical you come across is by referencing its Material Safety Data Sheet (MSDS). An MSDS is required to be provided with any potentially dangerous product. Every MSDS provides the following information:

    • Supplier Information (manufacturer of the product)
    • Hazardous Ingredients
    • Physical and Chemical Characteristics
    • Fire and Explosion Hazard data
    • Reactivity Data
    • Health Hazards
    • Safe Handling Precautions
    • Control Measures

There are multiple databases on line where you can look up the MSDS if you do not have a physical copy. The Material Safety Data sheet will be the first request from any Hazardous Waste Recycler. Download our

Having the proper paperwork is only useful if your employees are aware of it. Anyone who deals with hazardous chemicals or materials should know of their whereabouts. Store these documents in a convenient location so any employee can reference them if need be. Information is the most important tool when it comes to storing and handling your waste. Train employees on the proper safety procedures when using each waste. When it comes to accidents involving Hazardous waste, education is always the best prevention.

What Are the Benefits of Professional Hazardous Waste Disposal Service?

Disposing of Hazardous Waste is a time consuming, detail oriented process. Many of the chemicals listed above are not common recycling items. If you are unfamiliar with the chemicals you need recycled, it is likely that you are unfamiliar with the handling, packaging, and transportation regulations to dispose them. Also, if cleaning out your old chemicals is a rare occurrence, there could be a multitude of different wastes. Due to the potential risks, all Hazardous Wastes must be legally documented, packaged, and transported according to the Department of Transportation. This can be an overwhelming undertaking for the inexperienced.

Consulting a reputable Hazardous Waste Recycler is a simple solution. Experts will come on site and identify, sort, and take a detailed inventory of all of you Hazardous waste. They provide the required shipping documents, packaging, and labeling for each item. Their service does not stop there. After the necessary preparation, your waste is transported to vetted, licensed, and audited end facilities. Keep in mind: generators have “Cradle to Grave” responsibility for their Hazardous wastes, so having a trusted waste handling partner is important. Under the CERCLA legislation, even after you have paid for proper disposal you are liable for a cleanup. A  Hazardous Waste Handler will ensure all end facilities are a trusted, proven outlet for all wastes.

Do Your Research

Generators are legally responsible for their Hazardous Waste. It is crucial that you seek out a reputable Hazardous Waste Recycler when you are liable for any malpractice. Do some research. There are some credentials that you should look for when searching for this service:

  • Your Hazardous Waste Recycler should have a valid EPA ID number.
  • They should have at least a satisfactory rating from the Department of Transportation.  
  • A clean record when it comes to inspections is a must.
  • Recyclers that do not comply with the laws are shut down instantly.

 A Hazardous Waste Recycler’s reputation in this industry is invaluable. Full disclosure should be the selling point. Check what companies are registered locally when seeking out a professional service. The right Hazardous Waste Recycler can provide all of the necessary knowledge to properly dispose of your waste. Most importantly, they can provide peace of mind.

Our team is always standing by to help answer your questions. Contact us today!


Free Hazardous Waste Consultation

Mercury Spills & How To Safely Handle Mercury Waste

In our previous blog article about mercury, we explained the different types of mercury waste, as well as the sources, dangers and recycling processes for it. Today, we will discuss proper handling of packaged mercury wastes for transportation to recycling facilities, and most importantly we have included some resources and references for you to consult if a mercury spill clean up is ever required at your facility. As always, please consult a trained hazardous waste professional in the event of contamination.

Proper Handling & Transportation of Mercury Wastes

Because of the dangers mercury waste poses to the environment and the health of others, the Department of Transportation has regulated how it must be transported. The main focus when transporting mercury is containment. There are some packaging and handling guidelines in effect to help prevent spills. Any mercury waste, whether it is debris or devices, must be packaged in UN/DOT approved container in order to transport. UN containers are made to withstand pressure in case of impacts, such as a motor vehicle accident. They also have secure lids which further prevents the possibility of a spill. When purchasing containers for Universal and Hazardous Wastes, be sure to ask your vendor if the containers are UN/DOT approved, and look for the UN symbol. TRC and other recyclers often have the appropriate packaging for sale, or they can tell you which vendors would have the type of packaging you require.


The DOT also requires that any mercury debris must have a hazardous waste manifest in order to track and account of in case of a spill. This paperwork is used in tracking mercury waste from ‘cradle to grave,’ meaning that the amount of material sent from the generator can be tracked through any of the transporters and onto the end facility where it is processed and recycled. This ensures that waste is not lost, spilled, mistreated or handled irresponsibly, and allows for businesses to accurately report where their wastes are going. Responsible recycling companies will be able to provide this paperwork and help guide you when filling it out prior to your waste being picked up and transported to the processor.

Cleaning Up Mercury Spills: What Never to Do After a Mercury Spill 

    • Never use a vacuum cleaner to clean up mercury. The vacuum will put mercury into the air and increase exposure.
    • Never use a broom to clean up mercury. It will break the mercury into smaller droplets and spread them.
    • Never pour mercury down a drain. It may lodge in the plumbing and cause future problems during plumbing repairs. If discharged, it can cause pollution of the septic tank or sewage treatment plant.
    • Never wash clothing or other items that have come in direct contact with mercury in a washing machine, because mercury may contaminate the machine and/or pollute sewage. Clothing that has come into direct contact with mercury should be discarded. By "direct contact," we mean that mercury was (or has been) spilled directly on the clothing, for example, if you break a mercury thermometer and some of elemental mercury beads came in contact with your clothing.
    • Never walk around if your shoes might be contaminated with mercury. Contaminated clothing can also spread mercury around.

For this list and comprehensive instructions on handling Mercury Spills, visit the EPA web page at, and call a professional waste handling company to help guide you, or for clean-up services.

What about Broken Fluorescent Lamps?

Fluorescent and HID (High Intensity Discharge) lamps also contain some amount of mercury and require special care when broken. In CFL lamps, the mercury is found in the tubes, along with the white phosphor powder, which when electrically charged will produce visible light. So, any time the tube is compromised, mercury escaping is a possibility. A compact fluorescent lamp contains about 1/500 of the mercury found in a mercury thermometer,  and since we know any amount of mercury can be a potential hazard, prompt and fastidious clean-up is necessary. Followed of course, by appropriate disposal and recycling. 

HID lamps, which are often found in areas with difficult maintenance access, like building exteriors, parking lots, and warehouses with high ceilings, can contain 20-100 milligrams of mercury. (For reference, a thermometer contains about 500 milligrams of mercury.) The mercury in HID lamps is contained in a small capsule inside the larger lamp globe. If the outer globe is broken, store the entire lamp in double plastic, inside a rigid container to prevent further breakage. If the capsule is broken and mercury has escaped, follow appropriate cleanup and containment response for mercury spills.

This HID lamp chart from US Department of Energy shows the location of the capsule containing mercury  inside of the main lamp globe:


More Mercury Info

For additional information on recycling mercury devices and debris, including mercury-containing lamps, you are welcome to contact our recycling representatives any time. Also, check out our previous article Understanding Mercury Waste & Mercury Recycling Process


READ ALSO // Fluorescent Lamp Recycling: Small amounts of mercury, big hazard.

Understanding Mercury Waste & Mercury Recycling Process

What's the problem with Mercury Waste?

The use of Mercury in common products, like thermometers, medicines, cosmetics production and laboratory devices, has significantly declined as the dangers of mercury were discovered. Still, that did not prevent us from finding practical uses in modern technology. Today, mercury is used primarily for the manufacture of industrial chemicals or for electrical and electronic applications, and it can be found in everything from fluorescent lamps to thermostats. And while we have found safer uses and have been able to reduce the amount of mercury required to create a viable product, as is the case with fluorescent lamps, that does not mean it is any less dangerous. The harmful effects of mercury are still present and it must be handled, stored, transported and recycled carefully.

Why is Mercury Dangerous?

Mercury is most harmful through contact and ingestion. It is safe to say that physically consuming elemental mercury is a very rare occurrence. But how often do you think about whether the things you are eating have been exposed to mercury waste? This can occur when mercury contaminates our lakes, streams, and other water supplies. Through a microbial process, the spilled mercury is transformed into an organic form of mercury called methylmercury. The methylmercury is then transferred to fish and other wildlife that we could eventually consume. In a process called bio-accumulation, the small amounts of mercury in tiny organisms travels up the food chain and accumulates in larger and larger animals like fish and birds.  Damage to the lungs, kidneys, and nervous system can be caused by methylmercury. Exposure can also affect the neurological development in children. Containment is the best prevention from all of these dangers. Always avoid direct contact, inhalation, and the spillage of mercury waste into the environment.

Mercury Devices vs. Mercury Debris

What is the difference? Isn’t it all recycled the same way?

Distinguishing the different types of mercury waste is the first step towards recycling it. Mercury devices are manufactured items containing elemental mercury that is not exposed. Thermostats, barometers, pressure gauges, and mercury switches are all examples of some common mercury devices. As long as the integrity of the device is not compromised these household items are relatively easy to recycle. This means, the mercury is sealed within the intact device and has no means of leaking.

As soon as the elemental mercury is exposed from a device, such as a crack or leak that mercury could escape from, it is considered mercury debris. Raw mercury is the most harmful state of mercury and must be treated carefully when handled. Always try to avoid spilling elemental mercury from a device. Not only is it more harmful, the disposal and recycling process is more difficult and often it is more expensive. Sources of mercury debris include: dental amalgam, soil with mercury spilled onto it, any items used in a mercury spill kit such as cardboard, gloves, towels and actual broken mercury devices. This can include any contaminated item.

Mercury Recycling Process

With the help of technology, recycling mercury has never been easier and more efficient. Recyclers have engineered processes that ensure 99% of mercury is extracted safely. The mercury collected is used again in new products.

Whether you have fluorescent lamps or thermostats, make sure you seek out a responsible solution when you need to dispose of any article or material that contains mercury.  Find a certified recycler who can ensure proper disposal and prevent hazardous mercury to contaminate the environment. TRC Partner, Veolia ES, outlines the basics of their mercury recycling process for lamps and mercury items.

More Mercury Info

For additional information on recycling mercury devices and debris, including mercury-containing lamps, you are welcome to contact our recycling representatives any time. Also, stay tuned for our upcoming blog on Proper Mercury Handling, spill clean-up safety and how to manage broken lamps.

 Hazardous Waste inventory help

Troubling Waste News & A 500 Year Old Beauty Gets a Makeover // June Links

She’s 500 years old, but the new lighting is really doing wonders for her looks!

Lawmakers agree on an energy bill with a solar energy standard, but what will be the cost to energy consumers?

Here’s a little more insight on the background of  H. F. No. 956, with comments from German utility CEO regarding the country’s experience with solar power.

“Since Wisconsin launched a program for recycling electronic waste three years ago, the state has collected more than 100 million pounds of e-waste, exceeding targets by several million pounds.” 

For a little sweetness in your day, enjoy this! St. Paul’s Candyland as illustrated by WACSO (Walking Around Checking Stuff Out) “Even the Lights are Candy”

Don’t get caught disposing of illegally disposed hazardous wastes, like this company did!

Exterior lighting and landscaping, and how manufacturers have finally figured out how to ‘warm up’ colors of LED lighting.

EPA fines lighting recycler $72K for PCB contamination. Have you audited your recycling vendor lately? 

Newton North High School has the most efficient light bulbs and a sophisticated on line system that allows workers to control energy use remotely. But turning off the hallway lights in the state’s most expensive high school poses a problem. Read more

How LED lighting could be affecting your sleep patterns, and what one scientist is doing to make sure you get your Z’s! 

Looking for new ways to shine on the job and do something positive for your company’s bottom line? How Retrofitting Can Advance Your Career

7 Jobs That Make the World a Better Place…is your job on the list?

Can you trust your energy services vendor to deliver? Several municipalities in the state to have paid money for energy upgrades that were never delivered.

Energy efficiency is of paramount importance, but lighting innovations on the horizon range from smart lampposts that can sense gas hazards to lights harnessed for office productivity or even to cure jet lag!


Four Things You Must Know to Responsibly Recycle Your Electronics

Recycling Your Computer: keep your privates private!

Computers contain some of our most personal information whether it’s your home computer or a business computer. Have you ever thought about what happens to this information when you recycle or dispose of your computer? There are many recyclers for your unwanted computer equipment, but do you know what they do with it? When you are finished with a computer you should make sure your information is no longer accessible and that the hazardous materials in the equipment are properly handled. This is why it is especially important to responsibly recycle ewaste with a trusted, certified recycler. Let's talk about how to do that.

Data Destruction: what's happening with your info?

When seeking an electronics recycler, data destruction should be a top priority. There are a couple options when it comes to erasing your information. Software programs are used to permanently delete everything stored on a hard drive. The best programs are government approved to ensure there is no trace of existing information. Hard drives can also be physically destroyed. They are either crushed or shredded until they are no longer operational, in fact at this stage they really just resemble tiny flakes of metal that you likely wouldn’t recognize as a hard drive. If your business requires it,  reputable recycling companies offer documentation of destruction. A very specific “Erasure and Asset Report” can be produced for every shipment if you have data that must be certified as destroyed per regulations like HIPPA, and includes time-stamped erasure verification, serial numbers, method of erasure and a detailed hardware/software discovery.

This type of detailed destruction isn’t necessary for every type of electronics recycling scenario, but it is available. The point is, if your recycler is reputable, they should be able to provide these services if you require them.

Recycling Process: how do you know if it's safe?

After your data is destroyed, any materials that can be salvaged are processed. Almost all of the raw materials found in computers can be recycled. They contain easily recycled materials like plastics, glass, aluminum, steel, and many others. While these examples are more easily recycled, most computers contain hazardous materials that must be treated carefully. Circuit boards and other components often contain contaminates and heavy metals such as lead and mercury. Keeping these toxic materials out of landfills and disposing of them properly is another advantage of recycling.

The sheer number of types of materials found in computers makes the recycling process complex. First, all computer components must be dismantled. Once they are broken down and all of the reusable materials are separated, they can be smelted. All of the separated materials are melted down to their raw state and are then sent to manufacturers to make new products.

Proper Disposal: so your hard drive doesn't end up in a ditch!

When you want your old computer destroyed, it should be properly destroyed. There have been several instances where so-called Recyclers do not send your equipment where they say they will or to where you believe them to be going. Find a disposal facility that can provide a Certificate of Destruction to ensure your information is no longer accessible. There are many Recyclers that will provide this evidence. There are also some credentials that reputable recyclers will have. The EPA encourages all electronics recyclers to become certified by demonstrating to an accredited, independent third-party auditor that they meet specific standards to safely recycle and manage electronics. Currently two accredited certification standards exist: The Responsible Recycling Practices (R2) and the e-Stewards standards. We always encourage customers to choose certified electronics recyclers. If you do not know if yours is certified, ask! Most recyclers have an open door policy and will happily share all downstream material handlers.

It is up to you to do the research and protect your own information, but a qualified and reputable recycler will happily help you understand the benefits of their services.

Get our Guide: "Where in the World is Your E-waste Going?"

MUST HAVE: Hazardous Waste Recycling Resource Guide

Hazardous Waste Recycling R

We've compiled this helpful Hazardous Waste Recycling Resource Guide as a way to keep some important reference information at hand when you are looking to learn more about hazardous waste disposal in Minnesota. 

When you download this resource guide, you will receive our thirteen page document that includes:

  • 4 online sources for searching MSDS (Material Safety Data Sheets)

  • MPCA Fact Sheet: Managing Universal Wastes Guidance (Minnesota)

  • MPCA Fact Sheet: Managing PCBs in Ballasts and Small Capacitors

  • MPCA Fact Sheet: Basic Hazardous Waste Requirements for Businesses

DOWNLOAD NOW: Hazardous Waste Recycling Resource Guide

For more information about Hazardous Waste Services:
Also, get our Haz Waste Inventory Kit

Fluorescent Lamp Recycling: Small amounts of mercury, big hazard.

fluorescent lamp recycling minnesota

How do you know if your fluorescent lamps are a hazardous waste?

It is easy to take for granted the everyday decisions and products we use that can make a big environmental impact if mistreated or handled thoughtlessly. Did you know that even fluorescent lamps can be classified as hazardous waste based on how much mercury they contain? The EPA has developed the Toxicity Characteristic Leaching Procedure (TCLP) to test if a lamp is considered to be hazardous. Lamps that contain less than 0.2 milligrams per liter of mercury are not considered hazardous and federal disposal regulations do not apply. But this does not exempt the generator from any state or local regulations.

Lamps that pass the TCLP test are not very common. Most fluorescent lamps, including the low-mercury lamps identified by green tips, would not pass the TCLP test because they still contain enough mercury to be considered significant. The standard fluorescent lamp contains anywhere from 8 to 14 milligrams of mercury. A so called low-mercury lamp contains 3.5 to 4 milligrams of mercury. Unless you have your lamps tested it is safe to assume that all lamps contain a significant amount of mercury and should be treated as a hazardous waste. It is easy to dismiss such a small amount of hazardous material in lamps, but the importance is to understand the wider effect of such a prevalent waste if handled improperly.

Why recycle fluorescent lamps?

Fluorescent lamps are a great example of both of these issues. Fluorescent lamps have always contained mercury and it is as important to recycle used lamps as it is to choose lower-mercury lamps when purchasing new products. As we learned about the hazards of large amounts of mercury, manufacturers adapted and began reducing the amount of mercury in fluorescents. Some lamps are even advertised as low mercury lamps by their green tips or the language on their packaging. In some circumstances, where very stringent legislation does not exist, these “low mercury” lamps may be handled as ordinary waste. However, it is important to know that as a waste generator you will always be responsible for properly disposing or recycling your regulated wastes. Still, fluorescent lamps contain mercury and therefore need to be disposed of in a safe and responsible manner. Modern recycling methods for fluorescent lamps and mercury containing items are reliable and help reduce the effect of mercury on the environment.What is the importance of fluorescent lamp recycling? Conscious consumers are always trying to become more aware of their impact on the environment. This is especially important when it comes to choices in the products we use in daily life because small choices do have a cumulative effect. We don’t often give much time to think about the waste created by these ‘necessary products,’ such as a light bulb, or the environmental impact made as they are being used. We were not always aware of the seemingly passive use of hazardous materials in these simple and necessary products. Asbestos, CFCs, and lead are some common examples of products we used to use passively on a daily basis. As we uncovered the dangers of these materials, we discovered safer alternatives. While replacing these harmful substances is always a priority, responsible disposal of the older hazardous products is just as important.

Take Responsibility

Many states have required recycling of all fluorescent lamps. While it is not yet a nationwide law, the EPA recommends that all types of fluorescent lamps be disposed of as if they are a hazardous waste. The amount of mercury in these lamps is enough to have an impact on the environment because mercury can accumulate and become concentrated in organisms near the bottom on the food chain, eventually working its way into larger organisms through a process called biomagnifcation. All this to say, your small choices have a bigger impact and that making smart choices about commonly used products, even those we use passively, can have a lasting positive result.

It is important to be responsible when it comes to disposing of any harmful materials. So, please be sure to consult a Universal Waste professional or your local regulating authority such as DNR or EPA for advice on proper waste handling and disposal or recycling. 

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TRC clears up 5 myths to ensure proper chemical waste handling and disposal.


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Hazardous Waste Management shouldn’t be taken lightly, and it is important to address each disposal, recycling, handling, and transportation interaction with care and concern. Waste can become more reactive and dangerous overtime, and not every business has Environmental Health and Safety personnel on their staff, so it is important to find a qualified vendor to answer your specific questions about the wastes you come across in your facility and the waste you generate in your business processes.


Today, we are sharing a handful of commonly misunderstood aspects of properly disposing of haz waste. “My product is labeled non-hazardous, that means I can throw it in the trash, right?” There is a very good chance you cannot, but why? First, it is important to know what hazardous waste is.  Wikipedia defines it as a “waste that poses substantial or potential threats to public health or the environment. In the United States, the treatment, storage and disposal of hazardous waste is regulated under the Resource Conservation and Recovery Act (RCRA).”  These wastes could include items such as those listed below and more:

    • Expired Products
    • Maintenance Chemicals
    • Vendor Samples
    • Process Waste
    • Spill-response Waste
    • Research Waste
    • Lab Waste
    • Paints & Cleaners
    • Abandoned Mfg Supplies
    • Solvents and Thinners
    • Cleaners and Washer Chemicals
    • Oils and Absorbents

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"My product is labeled as non-hazardous; I should be able to just throw it in the trash, right?"

A: While many manufacturers are using non-hazardous ingredients in the formulations of their products, ALL wastes must be evaluated prior to disposal. Some municipalities regulate business wastes as an industrial waste; rules which could be more stringent than state or federal rules. Check with your local environmental regulators before choosing a disposal method. Form an internal process for inventorying, evaluating, storing and managing each waste type to avoid confusion. TRC can help you build a program for managing wastes, if one does not currently exist for your business.

"If I choose to send my waste as a Non-Hazardous Industrial waste, I will not have a paperwork trail to show proper disposal."

A: If your requirement is to have a cradle-to-grave tracking method for all waste sent out from your facility, be sure to specify this with your disposal or recycling vendor up front. Sometimes there is an additional fee for this type of paperwork, but a reputable vendor will be able to provide this service. For example, TRC can ship non-hazardous waste on several types of paperwork which will afford you a direct link to the disposal facility.

"I am just signing a Hazardous Waste Manifest for my employer, I don’t need DOT training."

A: Every person involved in the shipping of hazardous waste is required to have DOT training once every 2 years. This includes any packaging, loading, labeling, handling or paperwork preparation for wastes. The Minnesota DOT has an excellent on-line training program that is free of charge:

"When my hazardous waste is accepted at a disposal facility, I am no longer responsible for it."

A: All generators have “Cradle to Grave” responsibility for their wastes. Under the CERCLA legislation, even after you have paid for proper disposal you are liable for a cleanup.   Read more at the EPA website about CERCLA and superfund sites to better understand your potential liability for mishandled wastes. 

"I can just pour old paint on cardboard, let it dry and throw it away?"

A: In Minnesota, it is forbidden to dry oil based (flammable) paints and throw them away. It is possible to dry Latex (water based paint), but the waste may be considered an Industrial waste and regulated by your local county. With paint and most other questionable wastes, it is recommended that the most responsible waste disposal or recycling effort is made to limit your current and future liability.

Do you have other questions about proper handling, storing or disposing Hazardous Wastes? 

Consult Hazardous Waste Professionals


Safe & Smart Packaging Options for Universal Waste

Storing your universal waste should not be a frustrating chore. Keeping your waste organized will save you valuable time and effort. The easiest way to stay organized is by using proper packaging materials. If you are unsure of where to start, first evaluate your needs and goals by asking yourself a few questions:

  • What types of universal waste do I have?
  • Is my current packaging secure or does it compromise my waste in any way?
  • Are there any packaging restrictions that apply to my waste?
  • Am I taking advantage of my available storage space?

Here are some packaging options for common universal wastes:

Lamp Barrels – Fluorescent Lamps, HIDs, CFLs, Miscellaneous Bulbs

Handling fluorescent lamps is a delicate task. They break easily and are difficult to clean up when they do. Not to mention, they contain mercury and can be dangerous if you become exposed to it. It is important to keep your old fluorescent lamps in a safe, protected container for transport and storage.

There are a few options when it comes to storing lamps. A common solution is to re-use the boxes that your new lamps come in. These boxes can adequately store and protect your spent lamps. They stack great on pallets and are easy to move. The downside, however, is their durability. Keep your boxed lamps raised off the ground and away from water to avoid having them become soaked and useless. Boxes are a great receptacle if kept intact.

Fiber drums, or lamp barrels, are another great storage alternative. The 4’ barrels are ideal for fluorescent lamps. These drums maximize storing capacity while minimizing storage space. They can hold over 300 T8 or 170 T12 tubes at one time. 2’ barrels are also available and are perfect for storing HIDs, CFLs, or smaller linear fluorescent lamps. There is very little hassle with these barrels. Just take the lid off and load in your spent lamps. Additionally, these barrels are easy to maneuver with a drum dolly and are generally a best-practice solution when it comes to storing fluorescent lamps for recycling.

It is not advised to tape lamps together for transport.

UN Rated Plastic Containers – Batteries, Ballasts, Mercury

Federal regulations have drastically changed the recycling process. Transporting universal waste isn’t as easy as it once was. Any potential threat must be addressed. Under these regulations all batteries, mercury, PCB Ballast, aerosols, Hazardous waste, and many more wastes are required to be transported in UN approved containers.

UN rated containers can be found in a variety of shapes and sizes. They are usually made out of a durable plastic and have tightening lids in order to prevent possible spills. The DOT requires packaging that could withstand accidents while in transit and limit any of the potentially harmful materials to be exposed on the road. If you are unsure whether your containers are UN approved, be sure to look for the official UN approved symbol.

Read more about specific battery packaging requirements.

Steel Drums – Hazardous waste, PCB Ballasts, Oil Based Paint

The 55 gallon steel drum is the go-to for Hazardous materials and chemicals. They are a great receptacle for number of hazardous items. Customers have found that consolidating* excess amounts of hazardous chemicals (oil based paint, used oil, etc.) can simplify the recycling process. They are also perfect for PCB ballasts and capacitors. *Always be sure that waste consolidation is done by a trained professional.

The downside to steel barrels is their weight. Avoid overfilling the drums with materials and chemicals. While they are capable of holding large amounts of waste, it will not matter it is too heavy to move.

Gaylord boxes – E-waste, Small Appliances

Electronics can be difficult to keep organized. Stacking your electronics on pallets can be a simple solution; however, they do not always stack easily. There are no universal dimensions when it comes to e-waste. The shapes can range from monitors, tube TVs, printers, circuit boards, paper shredders, to endless other examples. The easiest way to package large amounts of e-waste is by using Gaylord boxes. These boxes are a cubic yard and can hold over one thousand pounds of waste. They are ideal for large, bulky items and are effortless to move with a pallet jack or fork lift.

Every situation is different when it comes to storing universal waste for recycling. There are plenty of packaging options available that will save you time and effort. Find what works best to meet your goals and needs. Talk to an expert if you are unsure of packaging restrictions or handling procedures.

Get our easy reference Guide to Universal Waste Types!

Recharging your Knowledge of Recycling Batteries



Recycling batteries is not as easy as placing old newspapers on a curb. Apart from the energy they store, batteries can contain several toxic materials which are regulated by the EPA and the DOT can be harmful if exposed. As several unfortunate incidents have proven, even used batteries considered “dead” can be the source of fires when stored or transported incorrectly contacted by conductive materials. Proper, responsible disposal or recycling is a delicate matter whenever there is a potential threat to the environment or the safety of others. Like most potentially harmful wastes, The US Department of Transportation has developed laws in order to transport (dispose) of batteries safely.

Since the mid-1990’s TRC has gained expertise in the safe transportation of wastes ranging from toxic gases to Mercury containing lamps. Our recycling trucks have transported everything from old light bulbs to lead paint. This expertise and knowledge of waste handling and disposal regulations have helped our clients simplify the disposal and recycling process for all types of Universal and Hazardous waste. However, transporting waste is not always a simple task. There are many different regulations on state, county and federal levels, for many different forms of waste. Within the past few years, necessary precautions have been assigned to the transportation of a very common universal waste; batteries.

To help prevent accidents and spills, the DOT has come up with packaging requirements for the transportation of batteries.

  • All batteries must be separated by chemistry. For instance, alkaline batteries must be in a separate container than acidic batteries. Batteries have a higher chance of generating a spark with opposing chemistries.
  • Another requirement is protecting covering all battery terminals that exceed 9 volts to prevent short circuits. The battery electrical terminals are the main source of potential ignition when contacted by a conductive material. The DOT requires all terminals to be taped over, individually wrapped in plastic bags or insulated in another form in order to prevent a short circuit.

Once separated and protected, batteries must be containerized for transportation. Since most batteries are potentially harmful to the environment, DOT requires batteries meeting the definition of a hazardous material be shipped inDOT UN performance packaging. TRC has taken the guesswork out of selecting proper UN DOT approved packaging. We offer a wide range of packing to meet federal and state rules. If you have batteries which are too large for standard containers, (large sealed lead acid batteries), they can still be transported safely. Contact your sales representative and they will put you in touch with one of TRC’s transportation safety specialists, we're here to take the guesswork out of managing waste batteries and provide a safe outlet for proper transportation and recycling!

Free Hazardous Waste Consultation

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