The Retrofit Companies Blog

Shedding some light on led lamp recycling requirements

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It is undisputed that LED lamps have become the leading lighting technology, offering the benefits of energy savings, longevity and quality of light. With the rise of their popularity, several of our customers have inquired as to the regulations regarding their proper disposal and recycling.

According to the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency’s publication W-HW4-62: “Although the bulb portion of most light-emitting diodes (LEDs) are not hazardous and thus not (Universal Waste) lamps, the circuit board to which the LEDs are attached is a regulated electronic waste in Minnesota.” See more from the MPCA on E-waste recycling here.

Some of the reasoning behind the MPCA’s decision to regulate these devices is found in the materials used to construct the lamps themselves. Circuit boards have long been known to contain toxic lead solder (along with several other toxic substances), and is regulated in the State of Minnesota.

To help illustrate the situation, we have taken apart several screw-in style LED bulbs to show the hidden circuit board. Red arrows annotate the photographs and highlight the silver colored solder.

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 If you happen to be outside of the State of Minnesota, be sure to check with your local authorities as to the regulations in your area. Even if your State permits you to “throw them away”, the better choice is to recycle them. After all, why would you just landfill them, knowing that your decision will have a lasting impact on our environment, and the world that our children will inherit.

With over 25 years in the lighting and environmental business, we know about LED lighting and waste regulations!

If you have any questions or would like more information regarding the regulations of LED lamps and fixtures: 

Consult our haz waste team

If you have not yet made the change to LED lighting, we can help there too! There are many things to consider when making the move to LED; don't take on the project alone:  

Consult a Lighting Pro

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Aerosol Can Recycling Process

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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

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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. 

WHAT IS AEROSOL SPRAY?

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... (wikipedia.com)

 

WASTE AEROSOLS ACCEPTED UNDER TRC PROGRAM:

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

COMMONLY MISTAKEN WASTES NOT ACCEPTED UNDER TRC PROGRAM:

  • 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

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.)

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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

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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.

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More questions? Check out the full FAQ.

 

Order RecyclePak Online

 

 

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
· VCR
· 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

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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.

 

ITEMS ACCEPTED

· Tablet PCs
· Keyboards
· Mice
· Printers
· Fax Machines
· DVD Players
· VCR
· 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

UPDATE: 2016 PRICING AVAILABLE HERE

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
· VCR
· 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

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.

UN DOT APPROVED PACKAGING

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 http://www.epa.gov/hg/spills/, 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:

HID LAMP DIAGRAM

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

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:

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

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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. 

Request a recycling pick up  

 

 

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!

How to Responsibly Recycle 45,000 lbs of E-waste in 2 Days

2013 Spring Recycling Colle

In just two days, at two separate spring recycling collections, households from two communities in Minnesota and Nebraska responsibly recycled nearly 45,000 pounds of electronic waste. 

MAPLEWOOD, MN -  Congratulations, Maplewood! As a community you recycled a whole bunch of old junk on Saturday, April 20. In just one morning, you recycled over 100 appliances and nearly 15,000 pounds of electronics, televisions and computer monitors at the event held at Aldrich arena. The weather didn’t get you down, that’s for sure. Thanks again for coming out early for Earth Day.

LINCOLN, NE – The weekend previous to Maplewood’s collection, WasteCap of Lincoln held a collection for electronic and fluorescent lamp recycling where the community recycled nearly 29,000 pounds of e-waste and over 700 lamps in one day on April 13th, 2013.

While these community events are almost exclusively for households and their waste, The Retrofit Companies offers a waste pick-up service to business customers. In a really smart "two-fer" scheme, some larger business clients have planned collection days for their employees. With these events, a collection takes place at the business location and employees bring in their waste, such as old computers, fluorescent lamps, batteries and appliances to recycle. The same day, TRC can pick up any Universal Waste the business may have ready to recycle, too!

You can also read our guide to planning a community collection or how to responsibly recycle your Universal Waste, if you are interested in how to set up an event.

This Saturday, April 27th TRC will be at four community events:

 

Vadnais Heights
651 E County Road F
Vadnais Heights, MN
From 8am to 2pm.

Roseville
2555 N Dale Street
Roseville, MN
From 8am to 3pm.

Little Canada
515 E Little Canada Road
Little Canada MN
From 8am to noon.

Hastings
Maintenance Garage
1225 Progress Drive
Hastings, MN
From 9am to 1pm.

 

For full event details you can visit our facebook events page.

Request a recycling pick up  

Earth Day, E-Waste, LED Art & The World's Most Expensive Chandelier

Earth Day and EPA started in 1970, and celebrates its 33rd year in 2013: "It may be hard to imagine that before 1970 a factory could spew black clouds of toxics into the air or dump tons of toxic waste into a nearby stream, and that was perfectly legal!" Learn, Teach, Share about Earth Day on the EPA website

Outdoor lighting applications like stadiums, street lights and parking lots can lead to light pollution. Some communities are making changes toward darker night skies, here is one story.

“’LIGHT is this thing we usually use to illuminate other things,’ said the artist James Turrell” about an art installation using LED lights at the Guggenheim Museum. Described as “five nesting lampshades that mimic the rings of the museum’s ramps, each embedded with hundreds of hidden light-emitting diodes beaming full-spectrum light that will mix with the natural illumination from the building’s skylight.” Sounds beautiful, right? Take a look…

Ever wondered about the “Most expensive chandelier in the world?” Wonder no more!

Improper e-waste recycling can have serious consequences beyond the environmental threats. In this article Illegal Electronics Recycling Results in Criminal Convictions for one irresponsible recycling firm. 

Lights suck up more than 15 percent of all energy produced globally, and fluorescent lights currently make up more than half of the total lighting market. Will we be saying goodbye to fluorescent lamps any time soon?

Clean-up Recycling Events across Minnesota and in Nebraska this season are shaping up and happening soon. Find out which ones are near you, and finally find a safe and responsible way to dispose of those fluorescent lamps, used batteries and dusty old computer equipment!

Recharging your Knowledge of Recycling Batteries

UPDATED AUGUST 2016  // ORIGINALLY PUBLISHED April 2013

safe-battery-recycling.jpg

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

How to Plan Your Own Community Recycling Day

UPDATED MARCH 2017

Community recycling collection programs help keep TVs, Electronics, and other 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.)

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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!

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