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Landfill & Recycling

To the residents of St. Charles it has come to our attention that there is toxic waste in the household garbage

 Everyday Toxic Things You Shouldn't Toss in the Trash

1. Motor Oil, the only proper -- and legal -- way to get rid of motor oil is to place it in a clean plastic container with a tight lid and bring it to a location willing to take it off your hands, such as recycling centers, car service stations and automotive stores.

One important note is that used motor oil shouldn't be mixed with anything else -- such as paint, gasoline, solvents and antifreeze -- because that will render it unsuitable for recycling.

2. Old TVs, DVD players, VCRs, cassette decks, CD players, cell phones, alarm clocks, video cameras, desktop computers, laptops, printers, video game consoles, iPods … how many of these electronic waste (e-waste) items do you have stashed away in your basement, attic or storage unit?

"E-waste in general contains heavy metals such as cadmium and lead, meaning that your electronics should not go in the trash, "Although e-waste accounts for only 1 to 4 percent of municipal waste, it may be responsible for as much as 70 percent of the heavy metals in landfills, including 40 percent of all lead."

The most environmentally friendly way to dispose of e-waste is to donate it for reuse or drop it off at a recycling center. Drop-off at the landfill site in the electronic bin.

3.  Oil-based paints, coatings, stains, varnishes, paint removers and strippers qualify as household hazardous waste (HHW) because they contain chemicals that can be harmful to humans, animals and the environment. HHW items should never be disposed of in the trash or down the drain.

Latex (water-based) paints are not considered hazardous, so lidless, dried-out cans of the stuff can be disposed of with regular trash. If you have 1 inch or less of leftover latex, open the lid to dry it out, away from children and pets. Larger amounts of latex paint can be dried out by using waste paint hardener or by mixing it with kitty litter. You can place empty metal paint cans in your recycling bins.

4. Different types of batteries have to be disposed of in different ways, but none of these include tossing them in the recycling bin. Rechargeable batteries (including nickel cadmium, nickel metal hydride, small sealed lead acid and lithium ion batteries) can be recycled at participating retail collection points.

Lead acid automotive batteries contain corrosive and toxic chemicals that are very harmful to the environment, making them illegal to discard in your garbage or recycling bin. Instead, bring your car battery to the store when you buy a new one -- retailers are required to take the old battery.

5. Fluorescent light bulbs and compact fluorescent light bulbs (CFLs) -- while much better for the environment than regular light bulbs -- contain a miniscule amount of mercury (about 5 milligrams) that is released when the light bulb is broken.

CFLs can also be dropped off at any Home Depot or IKEA store.

6. Smoke detectors First, you need to determine what type of smoke detector you have. Ionization chamber smoke detectors (ICSDs) contain a small amount of ionizing radiation in order to detect the presence of smoke. Because of this radioactive material, ICSDs are categorized as a hazardous substance by the Fire Protection Agency. For this reason, it's extremely important to properly dispose of old smoke alarms.

After removing its batteries -- see #4 for how to get rid of those -- mail the ICSD back to the manufacturer. The address of the supplier is usually listed in the product warranty or user's manual. Send it by ground delivery, not air, because there are laws restricting radioactive materials on airplanes. You can also find a drop-off location or HHW event in your area if the manufacturer will not accept the unit.

Photoelectric smoke detectors, which use a photo sensor and light beam to detect smoke, do not contain radioactive material  and can be taken to any electronics recycling facility (see #2).

Dual or combination smoke detectors have both ionization and photoelectric smoke sensors, so they do contain a tiny amount of radioactive material and should be disposed of in the same way as ICSDs.

7. Mercury thermometers

Those old-school glass thermometers that mom used to take your temperature with may have been edged out by electronic thermometers, but many households still have these relics lying around.

The average mercury thermometer contains 500 milligrams of mercury, which can become a health hazard if the thermometer is accidentally broken. Mercury is a neurotoxin that especially poses serious health risks to pregnant women and kids because it can harm an unborn baby or young child's developing nervous system. This potential danger has caused several states, including New York, California and Connecticut, to ban the sale of mercury-fever thermometers.

Some areas even offer exchange programs that will trade you a new electronic thermometer for your old mercury one.

Note: Please do not dispose of cat litter in the recycling.


Landfill & Recycling

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Landfill By-Law 2010-18

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