Last time I talked about how to properly dispose of odd items that you don’t have to get rid of very often but that still need to be kept out of the landfill. This time I’d like to give you some tips on some more of the unusual things that also need reusing or recycling.
Cell phones, Eyeglasses and Hearing Aids: Many people don’t realize that Maine law requires the recycling of all cell phones. Merchants who sell them at retail must accept them for recycling at no charge to you. The Damariscotta-Newcastle Lions Club collects cellphones for recycling. They also accept eyeglasses and sunglasses for their Lions Eyeglass Recycling Centers. Each pair is cleaned, and the prescription power is determined before the glasses are distributed to those in need. The Lions Hearing Aid Recycling Centers focus on restoring donated hearing aids for distribution in developing nations, or they give useful parts to manufacturers for credits which are used to buy new hearing aids for people who cannot otherwise afford them. Cell phones, eyeglasses and hearing aids for donation to the Lions Club can be dropped off at most local doctor’s offices, Riverview Eyewear, Sparkes Hearing Services, Hannaford Supermarket, and all Walmart stores.
Ink Cartridges: Computer ink cartridges are quite toxic, and hundreds of millions of them are thrown into landfills each year. Although we have become quite used to printing things, the very best solution is not to! The waste of paper as well as ink is becoming a real environmental issue. Inject printers are now everywhere — in our offices and our homes. If you use them, please recycle the cartridges responsibly. Local schools are often happy to take used cartridges, and Supplies Unlimited accepts them for recycling. Retail and online customers of Staples Office Supplies receive $2 back in Staples Rewards for each ink or toner cartridge recycled (up to 10 cartridges per month) — if they’ve spent at least $30 on ink and toner over the previous 180 days.
Smoke Detectors: Some smoke detectors contain a small amount of radioactive material, and should never be thrown in the trash. Since trash from some transfer stations in Lincoln County is trucked to Penobscot Energy Recovery in Orrington (PERC) for incineration, smoke detectors are not allowed by regulation, because the burning of radioactive waste is not allowed due to health risks. Please check the back of your smoke detector to see if it uses radioactive Americium-241 before disposing of it in the trash. Fortunately, some manufacturers offer take-back programs, and responsibly recycle the smoke detectors sent to them. The N.H. state website shows a list of manufacturers with contact information at http://des.nh.gov/organization/commissioner/pip/factsheets/hhw/documents/hhw-1.pdf .
Column #18: by Lynne Gilbert, Member of the Keep Pemaquid Peninsula Beautiful