Beyond Bottles and Cans: How we recycle light bulbs, electronics, and batteries to protect our ecosystem
Throughout the year, we are careful to collect all of our fluorescent light bulbs, electronics, and rechargeable batteries for proper recycling. Not only do these products contain typically recycled materials such as glass and plastic, they also contain heavy metals such as mercury, cadmium, or lead that are harmful to wildlife and water quality if improperly released into the environment.
When you think about the number of buildings (over 100) and staff (also over 100) generating these recyclables at Frost Valley, it’s easy to imagine how these items add up! Every year or so, we contract with a recycler to package several shipping pallets of electronics, hundreds of fluorescent tube lights, and five gallon buckets full of sorted batteries. These all travel on a semi-truck to a special recycling facility that deconstructs the products to harvest valuable materials and safely aggregate any mercury.
As a large organization, Frost Valley must pay for this service, but for individual consumers, recycling these items is usually free (and often required by law). Any retailer that sells products with rechargeable batteries will have a free collection and recycling program: think cell phone and computer batteries at electronics stores. The same goes for whole electronics. Old televisions, computers, printers, etc are accepted by retailers for recycling free of charge. Compact fluorescent light bulbs (CFLs) are typically collected by municipal recycling or transfer stations during household hazardous waste pick up or drop off events. Collect these items in a safe place and keep an eye out for announcements about event dates.
We hope you will join us in our efforts to recycle these products, or even better, to factor their eventual disposal into your purchasing decisions.
Thanks for reading!
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Katharine Chute is the Sustainability Coordinator at Frost Valley YMCA. She works on projects ranging from renewable energy and recycling to habitat enhancement and local food production. She is originally from Minnesota, where she first developed her love of the outdoors on canoe camping trips near the Canadian border. Here in New York, she enjoys exploring the Catskill Mountains by foot and bike and sharing her love of the natural world with others!
More posts by Katharine Chute