Wednesday, September 26, 2018

Recycling Paint

What to Do With Paint

Most of us go through it. In our garage or basement, we collect cans of paint and other finishes of various types, conditions, and amounts thinking we might need them. We put off dealing with the growing pile until a day of reckoning comes and we either have to move and clean the house for sale or we run out of space. How do we dispose of all those cans of paint?

This is one of the most frequent questions we get. The first option we encourage people to pursue is donating the paint to a worthy cause. Maybe your local school, church, theater, or scout troop could use it for various projects. You can try Habitat for Humanity.

The type of paint you have makes a big difference in what you can do with it, as latex (water-based) varieties are much easier to dispose of than oil-based. With latex, if you have a small amount in a can, you can get it dry and hardened by leaving it exposed with the lid off or by putting clay-based cat litter in it to soak it up. Then you can dispose of the can in the trash or recycle it at a scrap metal facility if there’s not much left in it.

For oil-based paints, about the only option is to take it to a facility licensed to dispose of it. It won’t get recycled in the usual sense; it will probably get burned as fuel. Unfortunately, there are no such facilities in Snyder County, but a handful of them are scattered around the state, both private and municipal. A quick search brought up these possibilities an hour or two away:

Center County Recycling & Refuse Authority, 814-238-7005
Bower Disposal Company (Williamsport),
Monroe County Municipal Waste Management Authority, 570-643-6100
Hazardous Waste Experts, 888-681-8923
Lancaster County Solid Waste Management Authority HHW Facility, 717-397-9968

Another option for paints is to take them to a special collection event for household hazardous wastes. We held one in June at the Monroe Township shed, and we have another one scheduled for October 26-27 in Beavertown at the fire department and carnival grounds. Municipalities typically hold these events, and they bring in outside contractors to collect household chemicals, including paint, usually charging a fee. We’re using a company called ECS&R, and they charge $1.45 per pound for chemicals. You may want to keep this mind and do a quick estimate based on what you have so you’re not shocked by the price. At the June event, we had many people bring latex paint in. If you follow the procedures above, you can dispose of it yourself and save the cost.

Tom Gibson
Snyder County Recycling Coordinator
Snyder County Solid Waste Management Authority

570-374-6889, x-115

Tuesday, August 28, 2018

The Numbers Please, Part 2

In May, we presented numbers for the materials recycled in Snyder County in 2017, first for the entire county and then broken down by municipality. But there’s more. Here, we give you figures for our recycling drop-offs and individual businesses.

2017 Numbers for our Recycling Drop-Offs (tons):
Penn Township – 263
Freeburg Borough – 167
Selinsgrove Borough – 102
Franklin Township – 82
Monroe Township – 59
Spring Township – 55

2017 Numbers for Businesses (tons):
Conestoga Wood Specialties – 12,228
Bingaman & Son Lumber – 12,013
Shaffer Landscapes – 4460
National Beef – 1190
Cherry Hill Hardwoods – 1004
Walmart – 500
Lozier Corp. – 412
Weis Markets – 317
Target – 251
Giant Foods – 209
Lowes – 169
Aldi - 134
Dollar General – 104
Wood-Mode – 89
Midd-West School District – 78
Kohls – 72
Iron Mountain – 68
Ollies – 51 tons
U.S. Postal Service - 42
Best Buy – 33
Beavertown Block – 27
Staples – 26
Northway Industries – 23
Auto Zone – 6
Irvin’s Country Tinware – 5
Verizon – 3
Community Action Agency - 3

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. If you discount that, National Beef comes out on top. Like the nearby big-box stores along the strip, National Beef recycles mostly corrugated cardboard boxes. Cherry Hill and Weis Markets showed the biggest improvement in their tonnages last year.

You may wonder how we get our numbers. For the drop-offs, we get them from Lycoming County Resource Management Service, as they pull the materials for us. For the larger businesses, PROP (Professional Recyclers of Pennsylvania) gathers them from regional and national offices and disseminates them to all the recycling coordinators in the state. Haulers give us their numbers for residential and commercial materials as well. And many of the businesses report their numbers to us themselves; they’re actually required to by law, but there’s no enforcement of that, so we appreciate their efforts.

We congratulate 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

Thursday, June 28, 2018

The Numbers Please

Once again, we have collected numbers from businesses, organizations, and haulers so we can calculate how many tons of materials Snyder County recycled the previous year, as required by Act 101. In turn, DEP uses our figures to calculate recycling tonnages for the state. This process allows us to monitor our progress and serves as a basis for grant money we receive.

Below is a chart of the numbers for 2017 for the entire county, along with two previous years for comparison. Metals include aluminum and bimetal cans, while organics includes leaves, wood waste, and yard waste as well as food waste. All numbers are in tons.

Countywide Recycling Numbers

Single stream
928 tons

The numbers indicate we’re holding steady with our recycling efforts, but there’s room for plenty of improvement. Single-stream recycling is up, indicating more residents are subscribing to the service through haulers. Tonnages for glass, metals, and plastics are down slightly, probably because of the increase in single-stream. Corrugated cardboard is up, probably because of all the online shopping we do and the boxes that generates; credit Amazon for most of that. Selinsgrove Borough wins the prize for the most residential recycling, while Monroe Township is tops in commercial recycling if you discount organics. This makes sense because Monroe includes the Route 11/15 strip and most of the big-box businesses there.

Materials Recycled by Municipality in 2017 (tons)

Beavertown Borough
Franklin Township
Freeburg Borough
McClure Borough
Middleburg Borough
Middlecreek Township
Monroe Township
Penn Township
Perry Township
Selinsgrove Borough
Shamokin Dam Borough
Spring Township
West Perry Township


Thanks again to all county residents, organizations, municipalities, and businesses that recycled in 2017 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.

Our software generates so many numbers we can’t get them all in one article. So stay tuned for more.

Tom Gibson
Snyder County Recycling Coordinator
Snyder County Solid Waste Management Authority

570-374-6889, x-115

Tuesday, June 26, 2018

New Format for Recycling Events

Most of you know that our annual recycling events are quite popular, as many of you have old, broken, and obsolete electronic devices to get rid of in addition to refrigeration devices and scrap metal. Once again, we have two events planned for this year, the first one June 1-2 at the Monroe Township shed and the second one October 26-27 at Beavertown Rescue Hose Company. For both events, the hours run 3-7 pm Friday and 9 am-1 pm Saturday

But while the locations are the same as in the past, we’re staging these under a different format. For starters, we’re collecting household hazardous wastes. This includes those chemicals you have stored around the house and have been meaning to dispose of for years, including paint, insecticides, automotive fluids, and cleaners. We used to hold such a collection day separately every five years or so. Now we’re combining it with electronics, refrigeration devices, scrap metal, clothing, and books.

We’ve arranged for ECS&R, a private contractor, to collect the hazardous wastes and electronic devices, while our usual partner HandUp Foundation of Milton will collect refrigeration devices, scrap metal, books, and clothes. ECS&R does it differently than we’ve done it in the past. For one thing, you must have an appointment to drop off hazardous chemicals or electronics. You can arrange this by calling 866-815-0016 or visiting (click on “homeowner recycling”). Having an appointment will reduce your waiting time and allow traffic to flow smoother.

ECS&R charges for electronics and household chemicals by the pound. They charge $1.45 per pound for chemicals and .60 a pound for CRT electronics and .40 a pound for non-CRT electronics. One tip for electronics: For larger, older devices such as TV consoles with wooden cabinets, strip the electronics out of them so you’re not paying for the wood and plastic. All financial transactions are between the resident and ECS&R. We’ll be taking donations to cover miscellaneous expenses we incur.

Hope to see you at an event or two.

Notice: The authority is still looking for a volunteer to fill an open position on its board. Join a good cause in advancing recycling in Snyder County. Contact Tom Gibson at or 570-374-6889, ext. 115.

Tom Gibson
Snyder County Recycling Coordinator
Snyder County Solid Waste Management Authority

570-374-6889, x-115

Tuesday, June 19, 2018

Those Oddball Plastics

Most of us faithfully sort our number 1 and 2 plastic bottles and put them in the correct container at the local recycling drop-off. But in the process, we wonder about those other plastics we have to throw in the trash. You know, things like foam cups, yogurt cups (number 5), and number 2 butter tubs. What about the number 3-7 plastics; can we recycle them? The definitive answer is yes…and no. The whole situation is confusing because different places accept different combinations of plastics, often with restrictions.

You may have a single stream subscription where a hauler gives you a big tub, and you fill it with all kinds of materials, including 3-7 plastics. Most of this goes to the Lycoming County Resource Management Services in Montgomery, where they have a system for processing single stream.

The Selinsgrove drop-off has a container for 3-7 plastics, which are taken to Lycoming County. However, only Selinsgrove residents can use the drop-off because they pay a $12-per-quarter fee for recycling. Our other five drop-offs only take 1 and 2 plastics, meaning mostly bottles. We’re looking at putting in a container for 3-7 plastics at one of our other drop-offs, but the market for them is down, so we’re waiting for prices to rebound before we proceed with it. Lycoming County currently stockpiles bales of it because they can’t find a market for it.

To say drop-offs and processing systems take 3-7 plastics is actually a misnomer. They can’t take number 6 polystyrene (foam) because it’s too light and blows around on the conveyors that handle it; you can take that to HandUp Foundation in Milton because they have a system for melting it down into bricks. They can’t take number 3 LDPE because plastic bags get caught in the shafts in single stream conveyors. They can’t take number 4 vinyl because it’s usually too big, like a long piece of siding or window shutter. While you may be able to put these materials in a container, the single stream processing system will have to pick them out for landfilling. In the end, 3-7 actually boils down to number 5 (polypropylene) and 7 (other).

On the good side, these systems do take non-bottle number 1s such as food containers and number 2s such as butter tubs (as an exception, don’t include black PETE food containers such as clamshells). Even though these are made from the same PETE and HDPE materials as bottles, they use a different molding process that changes the materials’ characteristics, so the same recycling process won’t work on it. However, single stream has more flexibility to handle different materials because it relies heavily on photo sensors, which can be trained to sense many materials by shape and size.

The issues with plastics came to light recently when an article in the Daily Item told how the Sunbury Transfer Station temporarily gave up accepting 1 and 2 plastics because they couldn’t find anybody to take them cost effectively. They recently reached a deal with Trigon Plastics in Newmanstown to take 1, 2, 5, and 7 plastics. Trigon is a unique entity that makes plastic lumber, which they in turn use to manufacture plastic furniture. They set up a recycling facility to collect plastics, and they pull out natural-colored HDPE to use for making lumber and bale and sell the rest on the open market.

With this in place, Snyder County residents can now take their 1, 2, 5, and 7 plastics across the river to Sunbury. Just pay 75 cents to raise the arm to let you in. So at least we do have some options, and hopefully, we’ll have more in the future.

See how well you know your plastics. Here’s the numbering system:
1 – Polyethylene Terephthalate (PETE; soda bottles)
2 – High-density polyethylene (HDPE; milk jugs, detergent bottles)
3 – Polyvinyl chloride (PVC; pipe, siding)
4 – Low-density polyethylene (LDPE; plastic bags)
5 – Polypropylene (PP; yogurt cups)
6 – Polystyrene (Styrofoam; coffee cups)
7 – Other

Notice: The authority is looking for a volunteer to fill an opening on its board. Join a good cause in advancing recycling in Snyder County. Contact Tom Gibson at or 570-374-6889, ext. 115.

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