Tuesday, August 22, 2017

Recycling events coming up and Weis recycling efforts

Recycling events coming up

Back in the March column, we talked about the recycling events we normally have in May where we take in hard-to-recycle items like refrigerators, electronic devices, clothes, and books. We told how we were going to have to postpone them this year because of the situation with electronics. Our usual vendor for that, Unicor, was moving from the Lewisburg Penitentiary to Minersville, and things were up in the air.

Well, I’m glad to report that Unicor has resumed operations in Minersville and has agreed to handle our electronic devices. With that in mind, we have scheduled our recycling events for October 6 and 7 at the Monroe Township shed and October 13 and 14 at the carnival grounds in Beavertown. We will charge $5 for every vehicle or person/group coming in to recycle electronic devices and, like last year, $10 for every electronic device with a cathode ray tube (CRT) in it. This includes old TVs and computer monitors with the bulbous tubes in them. The $5 charge is to cover transportation costs for shipping the electronics to Unicor in Minersville, and the $10 fee covers what Unicor charges us to process CRT devices. There will be no charge for bringing in refrigeration devices, clothes, or books.

Weis recycling efforts

The folks at Weis Markets recently invited us in for a presentation on their sustainability efforts. We started at their headquarters in Sunbury and then stepped out for a tour of their store on Route 522 in Selinsgrove. It was good to hear that a major component of their efforts come in the form of recycling. In 2015, they recycled more than 33,850 tons of materials, an increase of 2.5 percent over 2014. This included corrugated cardboard, mixed office paper, and plastic bags, among other things. They have recently added rigid plastics, batteries, and cooking oil to their list of recyclables, which now includes more than 20 commodities. Plastic bags are recycled into various items such as lumber, playground equipment, patio decking, and park benches. Weis sells spring water in bottles made of 100 percent recycled PET plastic. Waxed corrugated cardboard goes to Enviro-Log, which turns it into fireplace logs that Weis sells.

But perhaps the most interesting display of recycling came at the Selinsgrove store, where Weis has a tank for storing food waste such as leftovers from the salad bar. A company they contract with comes by and unloads the contents and ships them to an anaerobic digestion plant in Lancaster where they are turned into energy.

It’s good to see a local corporate citizen committing to reduce its carbon footprint…and using recycling extensively to do it.


Tom Gibson
Snyder County Recycling Coordinator
Snyder County Solid Waste Management Authority
570-374-6889, x-115

What to do with non-rechargeable batteries

People often ask us where they can recycle single-use, or non-rechargeable, household batteries. These are typically alkaline manganese batteries, the most common kind of rechargeable. This is a reasonable question and big issue in the recycling world because batteries have become so prevalent in this age of proliferating electronic devices, powering cell phones, computers, toys, and power tools. Unfortunately, we don’t have much to tell people other than to put their batteries in the trash.

Looking at other areas, California has designated all batteries as hazardous waste and requires that they be recycled or taken to a household hazardous waste (HHW) collection facility. Outside the Golden State, it is legal to throw single-use batteries in the trash. Many cities and counties collect single-use batteries during household hazardous waste collection events, and some have dedicated HHW locations that accept materials all year. In our area, several stores such as Walmart, Lowes, Best Buy, Staples, and Coles Hardware collect several types of batteries, but none take the non-rechargeable alkaline variety.

But the situation is changing and becoming more favorable to recycling single-use batteries.
Call2Recycle (www.call2recycle.org) has expanded its battery recycling program to include a new single-use battery recycling option. The company has drop-offs around the country and sells boxes that you can purchase online to fill with batteries and then ship back to them for recycling. Call2Recycle has reported record volumes as it transitions several rechargeable battery collection centers into so-called “all-battery” locations, funded by collection fees paid by consumers.
If you have a large quantity of batteries, you can use one of the many mail-in programs such as Call2Recycle. Also, you can find places to recycle alkaline single-use batteries at websites such as www.energizer.com/responsibility/battery-recycling/where-to-recycle-batteries.
Debate about recycling single-use batteries has focused on whether it’s actually cost effective. They contain small amounts of reusable material, including zinc, manganese, and steel. They don’t contain heavy metals, and this limits their recycling market. On the other hand, rechargeable batteries do contain heavy metals. Because of this, they are considered hazardous waste and are therefore prohibited from landfills and must be recycled. And the heavy metals make them more lucrative for recycling. For these reasons, U.S. battery manufacturers have typically funded collections for rechargeable batteries but not single-use ones. But technology has advanced to the point that single-use batteries can be recycled cost effectively.
As an alternative to using single-use alkaline batteries and landfilling them, other forms of batteries are available. Made of nickel and cadmium, Ni-Cd batteries are an inexpensive rechargeable form of alkaline batteries. They can be recharged hundreds of times and are generally interchangeable with alkalines. Due to the presence of the toxic metal cadmium, these batteries are considered hazardous waste and not allowed in landfills. A cadmium-free alternative to these batteries is Nickel Metal Hydride (NiMH), which are taking their place alongside name brands of rechargeable batteries.
With developments like these, we should have more to tell residents who call about recycling single-use batteries. At the same, we’ll keep more of them out of the landfill.

Tom Gibson
Snyder County Recycling Coordinator
Snyder County Solid Waste Management Authority
570-374-6889, x-115

Tuesday, June 20, 2017

It’s All in the Numbers, Part 2

Last month, we presented numbers for the materials recycled in Snyder County in 2016, first for the entire county and then broken down by municipality. But we love numbers so much, we couldn’t stop there. Here, we give you figures for our recycling drop-offs and individual businesses.

2016 Numbers for our Recycling Drop-Offs (tons):
Penn Township – 342.20
Freeburg Borough – 167.23
Selinsgrove Borough – 103.05
Franklin Township – 86.52
Monroe Township – 66.31
Spring Township – 46.28

2016 Numbers for Businesses (tons):
Conestoga Wood Specialties – 14,255.23
Bingaman & Son Lumber – 11,044.10
Shaffer Landscapes – 4460
National Beef – 853.07
Cherry Hill Hardwoods – 801
Walmart – 572.47
Lozier Corp. – 441.07
Lowes – 290.3
Target – 212.95
Giant Foods – 211.7
Midd-West School District – 106.65
Dollar General – 101.38
Wood-Mode – 81.60
Iron Mountain – 74.4
Weis Markets – 66.9
Kohls – 65.77
Best Buy – 59.03
Auto Zone – 55.5
Verizon – 51.17
Ollies – 47.15 tons
Northway Industries – 30.64
Beavertown Block – 29.01
Staples – 22.10
Irvin’s Country Tinware – 9.11
Tractor Supply – 7.07

In looking at the numbers for businesses, we should point out a few things. The numbers for wood-related businesses such as Conestoga, Bingaman, and Cherry Hill come mainly from wood waste, and those for Shaffer Landscapes come mostly from yard waste. These generate inherently higher numbers than other recyclable materials. On the other hand, numbers for most of the other businesses, including National Beef and the big-box stores along the strip, come from recycling corrugated cardboard boxes.

Kudos to the municipalities for making our drop-offs a success and the businesses for their recycling efforts.

Tom Gibson
Snyder County Recycling Coordinator
Snyder County Solid Waste Management Authority
570-374-6889, x-115

Tuesday, May 16, 2017

It’s All in the Numbers, Part 1

Trash Talk Column

April 2017

This is the time of year when Pennsylvania recycling people collect numbers from businesses, organizations, and haulers so they can calculate how many tons of materials they recycled the previous year, as required by Act 101. This allows us to monitor our progress and serves as a basis for grant money we receive.

Below is a chart of the numbers for 2016 for the entire county, along with 2014 and 2015 for comparison. Metals include aluminum and bimetal cans, while organics includes leaves and yard waste as well as food waste. All numbers are in tons.

Countywide Recycling Numbers

Material
2016
2015
2014
Single stream
803 tons
684
615
Glass
182
214
160
Paper
3042
3401
3200
Plastics
158
164
116
Metals
776
496
509
Organics
31,464
5449
6251
Total
36,425
10,489
10,931


Materials Recycled by Municipality in 2016 (tons)

Municipality
Residential
Commercial
Total
Beavertown Borough
15.52
14,256.05
14,271.57
Franklin Borough
86.52
4519.65
4606.17
Freeburg Borough
168.87
27.27
196.14
Jackson Township
0
0
0
McClure Borough
0
441.07
441.07
Middleburg Borough
77.29
134.19
211.48
Middlecreek Township
.91
11,142.82
11,143.73
Monroe Township
167.62
2415.17
2582.79
Penn Township
1128.96
7.81
1136.77
Perry Township
0
1.68
1.68
Selinsgrove Borough
271.56
77.55
349.11
Shamokin Dam Borough
33.55
80.36
113.91
Spring Township
67.89
42.01
109.90
Union Township
12.56
0
12.56
West Perry Township
0
830.91
830.91
County-wide
136.73
423.58
560.31
Total
2167.983
34,400.12
36,568.10




















You’ll notice that the overall number for 2016 (36,425 tons) in the first chart, along with those for Beavertown Borough, Franklin Township, and Middlecreek Township are inordinately high. This is because they include organics generated by various businesses, and these create much higher numbers than other recyclables.

With this disclaimer out of the way, what trends do we see? Single-stream recycling is up, indicating more residents are subscribing to the service through haulers. Tonnages for glass, paper, and plastics are down slightly, probably because of the increase in single-stream. Penn Township wins the prize for the most residential recycling, while Monroe Township is tops in commercial recycling if you discount the organics. This makes sense because Monroe includes the Route 11/15 strip and most of the big-box businesses there.

Thanks again to all county residents, organizations, municipalities, and businesses who recycled in 2016 and those who reported your numbers to us. By measuring our recycling tonnages, we can continue to make progress in recycling and sustaining our planet.


Tom Gibson
Snyder County Recycling Coordinator
Snyder County Solid Waste Management Authority
570-374-6889, x-115
www.snydercounty.org