Americans have about 24 electronic products per household and annual sales for devices are more than $206 billion. While we bring new devices into our homes, sometimes the old ones get left behind. For example, we can end up with an old tube TV stashed away, a broken refrigerator sitting in a garage, or dead batteries in a junk drawer. From smoke detectors to AC units, there are plenty of common household items that are hard to clear out because of rules and regulations due to hazardous waste found within them! Since kicking these devices to the curb is illegal in many states, we figured we’d pass along some helpful information about what to do once you’re ready to retire them.
Smoke Detectors/Carbon Monoxide Detectors
Talk about your essentials! These loud beepers are vital for home safety. There are two kinds of smoke detectors. The photoelectric smoke detector, which uses a laser to sense smoke, and the ionization chamber smoke detector, which contains a tiny amount of radioactive material that creates a chemical reaction in a small chamber if smoke enters it. The ionization chamber detects smoke quicker so it’s the most common in the U.S. The radioactive material in these types of smoke detectors need to be disposed of carefully. One of the best ways to do so is by returning it to the manufacturer. The U.S. Postal Service website has a helpful list of where to send your smoke detector for recycling. You can also contact your local government or waste disposal organization to see if they have a recycling program for the detectors.
Carbon Monoxide detectors do not contain radioactive material. Check with the manufacturer to see if they have a mail in program. If not, remove the battery from your carbon monoxide detector and put it in your recycle bin.
About 180 tons of batteries are bought in the United States each year so it’s no wonder why we have a need to get rid of old ones! Many of the materials found within batteries, such as lead, plastic, and metal, are recyclable and some states make throwing them away illegal. We’ll discuss rechargeable batteries first then single use.
Rechargeable batteries include lithium-ion, nickel-cadmium (NiCad), and nickel-metal hydride. These types of batteries contain heavy metals, such as lead, nickel, and cadmium, which allow them to be rechargeable, but are hazardous and must be recycled properly. Lithium ion and nickel-metal hydride batteries are used for devices such as portable electronics and hybrid cars. NiCad batteries come in AA, AAA and other familiar battery sizes. Earth911.com has a recycling locator that is a helpful tool to find where to bring batteries. A quick Google search should also get you some results for battery recyclers around town. Around Sunnking’s headquarters near Rochester, NY, there is Batteries Plus for example.
Single use batteries include alkaline, button cell, lithium, silver-oxide, zinc-air, and zinc-carbon. Alkaline and lithium batteries are used for portable electronics like smart phones, laptops, flashlights and digital cameras. Button cell, silver-oxide, zin-air, and zinc-carbon batteries are found in items such as hearing aids, watches, and calculators. Again, the recycling locator on Earth911.com is easy to use and helpful in finding a recycler, as is a Google search. You may also find a mail in program for both single use and rechargeable batteries like The Big Green Box by Retriev Technologies, a company that offers battery collection boxes and environmentally sound battery recycling.
Sunnking is located in New York State where you’ll receive $100 fine for putting your old TV on the curb or in the trash, and many other states have fines as well! These fines are to keep CRT TVs out of landfills because these old tube televisions have a high concentration of lead and phosphors, and pounds of heavy metals, such as cadmium. Pick an e-recycler nearest you by visiting sustainableelectronics.org/recyclers to ensure these harmful materials are handled properly. Also, many major retailers like Best Buy, Staples, and Verizon will take your e-waste for recycling but be sure to call first.
Freon Containing Devices (AC, Fridge/Freezer, Dehumidifier)
If any of your freon containing items are old but still kicking, you should consider donating or selling it. On the other hand, if your equipment has run its course and stopped working, then it’s time to find a recycler! Freon can eat away at the ozone layer of our atmosphere if it’s released into the air, hence the reason it is illegal to throw freon containing items away with the rest of your garbage. It can also cause harm to your lungs and skin if inhaled. Never attempt to remove the freon yourself. A trained professional can remove it safely and adhere to specific regulations. Visit your state’s or local government website to search for a household hazardous waste collection information. If you are unable to find a location online, call your local government to ask a representative where the closest location is. Some recycling companies may have a small fee. In Rochester, NY, Monroe County residents can go to Ecopark, a place for residential recycling provided by a partnership between the county and Waste Management.
Contacting your local government for help with recycling your electronic items, or anything else for that matter, is always an option. Recycling properly is important for the health and safety of the environment and people. By doing the right thing with the items above, you’ll have a positive impact on the world. We hope this information proves useful for you and if you have any more questions feel free to call us anytime at 585-637-8365.