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Posts Tagged ‘recycling’

Holidays are a time when we are giving and receiving a lot of new toys, including updated electronics.  Even though our 1st generation iPad is still working just perfectly the lure of the 2nd generation have caught our eyes and its out with the old and in with the new!   Each year millions of children’s toys are purchased for Christmas and a large percentage of these require batteries.  Typically these toys do not only require one battery but rather two, four, or even six.  The most popular toy for this year is expected to be Lets Rock Elmo which requires six batteries for operation.  Well, after countless hours of rocking with Elmo, he will need new batteries which will begin a large collection of out dated batteries!
What are the different kinds of batteries and what do I do with them?
There are 6 main types of batteries we come into contact with regularly:

  1. Alkaline batteries: these are the AA batteries we use in remote controls, childrens toys, and surprisingly there are no real harmful elements found in these batteries.  When these are brand new they deliver 1.5 volts and continuously drop down to below 1 volt throughout their lifespan. They were not originally designed to hold the higher charges required by todays electronics which is why many manufacturers have resorted to NiMH batteries.
  2. NiMH batteries (Nickel-metal Hydride): these have the same size and appearance of an alkaline battery but hold 1.2 volts throughout their entire lifespan.  These batteries can be charged and recharged multiple times.
  3. NiCad batteries (Nickel-Cadmium): these are older model rechargeable batteries that used to be the common battery for all portable devices but now are found in cheaper and older mobile phones.  They must be disposed of properly to prevent environmental harm and can be properly recycled by CompuCycle.  The toxic element in these batteries is the Cadmium metal.
  4. Lithium-ion batteries: the current and most popular battery for cellphones and laptops. They are more expensive but much lighter than a NiCad and have longer duration.
  5. Lead-acid: these are the oldest type of rechargeable batteries and those still used in cars.  We can accept these at our facility as long as no materials are leaking from the battery.
  6. Uninterruptible power supply batteries (UPS): these are large devices used by companies to ensure they do not lose power when the main power supply goes down in an emergency situation.

All of the above mentioned batteries can be dropped off at CompuCycle’s recycling facility free of charge, except if it is a lead-acid battery that is leaking fluids.  Please feel free to bring them by:
Monday – Friday 8:30 am – 4:30 pm
Saturday 9:00 am – 3:00 pm
Or if you are with a company that has large UPS batteries or any other materials call CompuCycle today to schedule a collection!

CompuCycle wants to wish you all a happy, healthy, and safe holiday season and Happy New Year! We look forward to e-cycling with you in 2012!

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Old appliances, we all have them shoved in the back of hall-closets and collecting dust in the garage, but how are we supposed to get rid of them?  Hopefully the thought of tossing them in the trash and landfilling hazardous materials (like refrigerants and cooling chemicals stored in refrigerators) did not cross anyone’s mind!  CompuCycle can accept the smaller household appliances including microwaves, toaster ovens, blender, coffee pot, and if there are any questionable items you may have please do not hesitate to give us a call at 713-869-6700.

The truth is that there are not a lot of recycling venues that will take old vacuum cleaners or refrigerators because there is really not a lot they can do with the products once they are dismantled.  While the recycling company does not want to see the appliances be tossed out they also have to adhere to EPA regulations for handling hazardous materials found in freezers and other appliances.  Most eco-friendly websites suggest the following:

1. Try to fix the appliances by purchasing new individual parts instead of buying an entirely new system.

2. Contacting your neighborhood waste services or city waste department to learn about their recycling methods and pick-up dates for large household items

3. Attempt to re-sell the product at a garage sale or through a newspaper ad but be cautious because selling these to certain companies might result in them being stripped of useful products and then landfilled anyways.

4. Check the manufacturers website or call them directly to see what services they can offer to recycle their old products and possibly re-use some of the materials.

5. Donate to your favorite charity or non-profit organization!

If you need anymore information check out the EPA’s Responsible Appliance Disposal program website at: http://www.epa.gov/ozone/partnerships/rad/index.html

Also their information on the refrigerator disposal process: http://www.epa.gov/ozone/title6/608/disposal/household.html#_Q:_What_are

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Recently Gov. Rick Perry signed the TV TakeBack Recycling bill into law.  The new Texas law requires television manufacturers to take back and recycle old sets in an effort to keep toxic materials including lead and mercury out of landfills and water.

An estimated 25 million TVs are disposed of each year in the U.S., according to the Stacy Guidry, program director for the Texas Campaign for the Environment, an Austin-based statewide organization focused on recycling and trash issues. Old-style cathode ray tube TVs contain several pounds of lead, while most new flat-screen TVs contain mercury bulbs, she said.

Here at CompuCycle we are elated to finally have laws that enforces the ideology we have maintained all along, that electronics do not belong in landfills, especially TVs.  We look forward to seeing legislation to come that requires responsible recycling of all electronics.

To read more about What Texas’ new television recycling law means for consumers, click here

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The only US federal regulation on e-waste is the CRT Final Rule. (An EPA ID number specifies that you have registered with the EPA as a waste generator, but does not require proper handling or disposal of waste. Learn more about EPA ID numbers here. You can even look up who has an EPA number by zip code!)

Even with the low amount of regulation, e-recyclers are getting around the Final Rule, as reported by the Government Accountability Office last year by hiding shipments of CRTs to developing countries and failing to report the export to federal regulators.

So what does the CRT Final Rule regulate? A summary is listed below:

Used CRTs (Broken and Intact) Exported for Recycling

  • Notify EPA (OECA) of an intended shipment 60 days before the shipment. Notification may cover exports extending over a 12-month or shorter period. Notification must include contact info about the exporter and recycler, and an alternate recycler. It must also include a description of the recycling, frequency and rate of export, means of transport, total quantity of CRTs, and info about transit countries.
  • OECA will notify the receiving country and transit countries. When the receiving country consents in writing to the receipt of the CRTs, OECA will forward the consent to the exporter. The exporter may not ship the CRTs until he receives the consent.
  • If the receiving country does not consent or withdraws a prior consent, EPA will notify the exporter in writing. Exporters must keep copies of notifications and consents for three years following receipt of the consent.
  • Consent is not required from transit countries, but EPA will notify the exporter of any responses from these countries.

CRT Glass Exported for Recycling

  • Processed glass (i.e., CRT glass that has been sorted) is not subject to export requirements. Unsorted glass would be considered a “broken CRT” and would be subject to export requirements.

Used Intact CRTs Exported for Reuse

  • Persons who export used, intact CRTs for reuse must submit a one-time notification to the appropriate EPA Region with contact info and a statement that they are exporting the CRTs for reuse (see 40 CFR 261.41). They must keep copies of normal business records demonstrating that each shipment will be reused.  Records must be retained for three years.

Unused Intact CRTs Exported for Reuse or Recycling

  • No regulatory requirements – these are considered commercial products or commercial chemical products being reclaimed.

A common way that “recyclers” bypass the Final Rule is to classify your CRTs as “working,” or don’t label them at all. The GAO reports that Hong Kong officials have sent back 26 containers of CRT monitors to the US from 2007 to 2008. And enforcement for the rule breakers? The GAO also says that the EPA’s ability to enfore their regulations is lacking. Even with the names of 43 “recyclers” that contacted an undercover GAO agent to sell broken CRTs overseas, the EPA doesn’t crack down.

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Denia Mejia, Clive Hess, and I visited AI Innovative for a tour of their impressive operation. As one of the largest plastics recyclers (but they do much more!) in North America, they had much to teach us about recycling.

Here are a few things I picked up:

  • Foam is expensive to transport. To reduce shipping costs, AI Innovative sells foam compressing machines that reduce foam size atleast 60 to 1.
  • This foam becomes pelletized and can be reused in dark products, such as trash bags and composite railroad ties.
  • Your colored plastics are often separated in clear and colors. The clear plastic is the easiest to resell as clear flakes. These become salad boxes, more plastic bottles, but most of all, they go into carpet!
  • “Natural in color” is used to describe the fuzzy plastic used in milk jugs. This milk jug plastic, however, cannot be put back into milk jugs. Why? Contamination!
  • Dark colors are processed and reused in dark bottles such as corrugated pipe and oil bottles.
  • Outlets for the reuse of contaminated plastics are being brainstormed now.
  • AI Innovative operates what the industry calls a “dirty MRF,” or Material Recovery Facility, meaning all municipal solid waste comes in for processing. Its dirty MRF is not in the US, however, but in Mexico, as lower labor costs allow for the intesive sorting process. This facility maintains a 15% recycling rate per weight of solid waste.
  • The AI Innovative Houston facility operates as a single stream MRF, or clean MRF, taking in cleaned plastics only with an 80% recycling rate.

Call AI Innovative and find a way to reduce your waste stream. They love a challenge, as we learned all about at their tour.

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Senator Amy Klobuchar introduced Senate Bill 1397 last Monday, July 6. The bill proposes funding a grant program to research novel solutions to the electronic recycling issue. The ‘Electronic Device Recycling Research and Development Act’ will set up million dollar budgets to be handed out by the Environmental Protection Agency in accordance with the National Institute of Standards and Technology.

So what issues have we to face down in this fast-paced, technological era? SB 1397 and many e-recycling proponents wish to stem the ever-increasing waste stream and believe the steps to take are:

  • Increased efficiency of collection and recycling
  • Expanded uses for the material make-up of machines
  • Find environmentally friendly alternatives to toxic components that currently do the job
  • Find environmentally friendly way to dispose of the existing toxic elements
  • Reconsider product design to make more recycle-able systems
  • Reduce the rapid obsolescence of electronics
  • Make upgrades and reuse easier
  • Increase awareness about the need to e-cycle

Have any ideas?

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At the Turn In Your Tube event in Houston, Texas, on June 12, CompuCycle’s Commercial Vice President Clive Hess and Procurement Officer Denia Mejia taught over 500 children a little bit more about the electronics they use in their home every day.

Did you know that a 36″ TV with a weight of 119 pounds has the following material make-up:

  • Plastic – 20 lbs.
  • Boards – 5 lbs.
  • Speakers – 1 lb.
  • Wire – 4 lbs.
  • Yoke & Neck – 1 lb.
  • CRT Glass – 88 lbs. (Remember, CRT glass contains an average 6 to 8 pounds of lead!)

Stopping by our booth was Harris County Commissioner Sylvia Garcia, our partner in the preceeding day’s press conference to push for mandatory TV manufacturer recycling programs.

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