Have you ever wondered what to do with your old nail polish? I have been known to keep nail polish until it is all dried out or gummed up. When this happens, it shouldn’t just be tossed in the trash.
Nail polish often contains toxins that are harmful to the environment, so nail polish should not go into the landfill and should instead be taken to the Household Hazardous Waste Center 2750 Patterson St. Wed-Fri 10-6 and Sat 8-2.
You can also consider creative reuse options for your old nail polish! A quick google search will show you how to revitalize dried-out or gummed up nail polish and give you plenty of uses for it other than polishing your nails.
Or consider taking your old nail polish to Reconsidered Goods so that others in our community can use the paint, bottles, or both for creative purposes.
There is also a mail-in recycling program for nail polish through Chemwise They are able to process the bottles and recycle the glass container, applicator brush, and the polish. It is not a cheap program, but if you gather enough nail polish between you and your neighbors it could be worth it!
There are many options to dispose of your old nail polish, so please, don’t send it to the landfill.
Ever wonder about plastic bottle caps? Had a debate about whether they are recyclable? Are they supposed to be trashed?
Here is your answer:
Recycle your Plastic Bottles with the caps ON the bottles. If the caps are placed in the recycle bin separate from the bottle, they will essentially get lost and end up in the landfill.
“But wait… I thought it was off” you might say. It used to be that way. Caps were made of more than one type of plastic melted together that made recycling virtually impossible. A couple years ago, the Plastic Bottle Council ruled that caps should only be made of one kind of plastic to promote more recycling. Now that most plastic bottle caps are all made of the same, single material, recyclers can separate them out.
Here is how:
1. You recycle your bottle with cap on
2. Bottle and cap are sorted out from the rest of your recycling (paper, metal, glass, etc) and baled
3. Bottle and cap go to a Bottle Washing Plant
4. Bottles and caps are chopped into little bitty bits called “flake” and washed with water
5. When washed, the cap flake floats and the bottle flake sinks
6. The cap flake is strained off of the washing tank, dried, and sent to be made into composite lumber (plastic decking material)
Ever Wonder… how clean does my recycling need to be? Have someone in your family that is very strict about making sure your recycling is spotless? Well now the debate is over.Your containers do not have to be spotless. My mom is the recycling queen in my family and puts lots of containers in the dishwasher before recycling—you do not have to do this!
Really, most empty containers just need a quick rinse. You don’t have to scrub every food particle off.
For example: peanut butter jars are pretty tough to get clean. We recommend you put just a little bit of water in the empty jar, swish it around, maybe let it sit overnight, dump out the water, put the lid back on (if it is a plastic jar and lid), and recycle it. Even if there are little streaks of PB left in the jar, that is ok.
That being said, please do not toss your half-full jars of mayo jars and ketchup bottles in the recycling. For folks working in the recycling processing facilities, it's wasteful and not sanitary. Plus, your recycling cart will stay fresher smelling if there is less food residue in your bottles and jars.
I have gotten quite a few questions about plastic bags, so I know y'all are wondering about them. Here is the why behind plastic bags not being recyclable in your recycling cart at home.
Plastic bags, film, and wrap cannot be mixed in with all of your other recycling because it tangles around machinery at the recycling processing facility. There are a lot of rotating machines that work hard to separate your paper/cardboard products from 3D objects like bottles and jugs.
When those flimsy materials like plastic bags go through these machines, they cause a great big tangle. Folks that work at the Recycling Center must climb into these machines and cut out anything that has gotten tangled by hand--not a super safe task. By separating out objects that cannot hold their shape, you are making safer work environments for lots of people in the recycling industry.
We do prefer that all recycling is loose in the bin (no bundling of paper either). To keep the kitchen recycle can clean, my family keeps a trash can liner in the recycle can, but when it’s time to empty, we take the whole can out to our big rolling cart. I think we get 10-15 weeks of use out of one trash can liner before it has too many holes and it needs to be trashed.
When your plastic bags, film, and wrap are recycled at the grocery store, they go to a different recycling facility that only makes one thing: plastic decking material. See the attached pictures for a look at the problems, solutions, and what plastic film can be made into!
It is very important that all items that are taken to the grocery store for recycling are as CLEAN and DRY as possible. Water is detrimental to the processing that makes the plastic decking material. Plastic film items are not collected by the City of Greensboro, but other private industries.
Also, here are a few other items that can go to the grocery store collection bins that you may not have realized:
- Grocery, retail, newspaper, and produce bags
- Bubble Wrap/packaging "pillows"/shipping wrap
- Shrink Wrap (around cases of water bottles or sports drinks)
- Plastic Wrap that encases paper towel/toilet paper
- Dry cleaner bags
Lastly, there is a program in Greensboro called Operation Bed Roll. Residents learn to reuse plastic bags by making them into "plarn" (plastic yarn) and then crochet them into portable sleeping surfaces for people experiencing homelessness. If you are interested in learning more about this project, please visit www.greensboro-nc.gov/plarn.
Ever Wonder… is this paper supposed to be recycled? Read more to find out about frequently asked questions about mail, boxes, books, and shredded paper.
- Do I need to remove the plastic windows on envelopes? What about the plastic around the opening of tissue boxes?
No, those are fine to leave on your envelopes and tissue boxes. That small amount of plastic is not detrimental to paper mill processing. If anything has a plastic wrapping around it (several boxes of tissues, paper towels, etc), that should be removed and recycled at the grocery store. Break boxes down to save space in your recycling cart!
- Is glossy paper ok, like magazines?
Yes! We want your magazines, but not inside the plastic sleeves they sometimes come in. Photo paper cannot be recycled at this time.
- Do I need to bundle or bag my paper products?
No, everything should be loose in the bin. No bagging or bundling please--it can damage equipment at the recycling center.
- Are books recyclable?
Paperback books are recyclable as is. Hardback books need to have the hardback covers removed and landfilled. (Please exhaust all other efforts to donate books before recycling!)
- What about shredded paper… should that be put in the bin loose too?
The best way to put shredded paper in the recycling is stapled shut inside a paper bag (like from the grocery store). If for some reason that is not possible for you, we do make an exception to the "no plastic bags" rule when it comes to shredded paper, as long as the bag is securely closed.
- Do I need to remove the plastic windows on envelopes? What about the plastic around the opening of tissue boxes?
Have you ever been told to look for the tiny triangles with little numbers inside to decide if something is recyclable or not? Well hold on tight because that rule does not apply any more.
Usually, you will only find a tiny triangle/number combo on anything made of plastic. There may be recycling symbols (aka chasing arrows) on paper, metal, and glass objects, but that is usually meant to indicate that the item is made from recycle materials.
When those tiny triangles with little numbers inside were designed, they were intended to be Resin Identification Codes (aka RIC) for plastic processing and reprocessing purposes. Each of the numbers, from 1 to 7, represent a different type of plastic material from plastic drinking bottles, to detergent jugs, toys, and even mixed plastics.
Since all plastics are chemically different, they behave differently when melted, washed, or otherwise treated. It is super important that manufacturers know what kind of recycled plastic they are getting. When technology for recycling was new, there was a lot of hand sorting happening and material recovery facilities needed to be able to sort different kinds of plastics from one another. These days, there are all sorts of new tech that can automatically sort plastics (lasers are involved and it's pretty cool).
Many municipalities used to list various RIC numbers to designate the plastics that were recyclable in that area, including Greensboro. These days, many communities can accept ALMOST all plastics that have an RIC. You may have noticed on our recent updates to the recycling information that we do not list numbers for plastics. That is because we believe it just gets too confusing to have to look for tiny numbers. Also, the rules can be inconsistent. We DO accept RIC #s 1-7, but do not accept plastic bags, which can be made out of #2 or #4 plastic. We DO accept #6 plastic, but NOT Styrofoam, which often has a tiny 6 inside a triangle. See… even I'm getting a headache.
So let's keep it simple. We recycle plastic items LIKE: bottles, jugs, containers (yogurt, butter, frozen dinner trays), cups, and large plastic items like buckets, laundry baskets, lawn furniture, and kids toys. Just remember, if it is plastic and falls into any of these category, recycle it. Our biggest offenders are Styrofoam and "Tanglers" (anything that cannot hold its shape, like bags, sheets, hoses, etc.), so help us out by keeping those out of your recycling bin. If you are unsure if something is a tangler or not, please put it in the landfill-bound bin (or reach out to me and I will help).
The big take home message for you is this: a tiny triangle or recycling symbol do not automatically mean that something is recyclable! Please help me spread this knowledge.
You might wonder… "Batteries are made of metal… does that make them recyclable in my bin at home? Why am I supposed to take them to the Household Hazardous Waste drop off site? What happens if batteries are put in the bins at home?"
All batteries--rechargeable and non-rechargeable--should be taken to the Household Hazardous Waste (HHW) Collection Center for disposal. Alkaline batteries (non-rechargeable) have no recycling value. Since they have hazardous chemicals inside, it is EXTREMELY important that they are taken to the HHW drop off location to be disposed of in a special landfill.
All other batteries that are rechargeable, like AA, AAA, 9V, power tools, etc DO get recycled. The metals inside and the plastic exterior both have good markets for recycling. Because of this, it is even more important that these batteries get recycled at the HHW location and not placed in curbside recycling or landfill-bound bins.
On a very serious note, at our recycling and transfer station (landfill waste) we have had battery-ignited fires--see attached image. The batteries were crushed under the weight of the waste or equipment, leaked dangerous chemicals, and started fires among lots of fuel like paper and cardboard. Our teams are trained to be on the lookout for fires and quickly try to extinguish them, and we love our Greensboro Firefighters! Thankfully we have had no injuries or major damage at either the recycling center or transfer station—BUT these situations can turn very dangerous very quickly. PLEASE share with others the importance of proper battery disposal. Safety is our number one priority and your actions can make a big difference!
To properly dispose of batteries, they need to be taken to the Household Hazardous Waste drop off site (EcoFlo). You do not need to separate the rechargeable from the non-rechargeable batteries--they will take care of that. This location is free to all Guilford County residents (you may need to show your license to prove you reside in Guilford County). Household waste only, no businesses please (email me if you need assistance with hazardous business waste disposal).
2750 Patterson St.
Any item that is put in the recycling container that isn't recyclable is called a contaminant. Contaminants can range from food to dishes, needles, and diapers. Today’s Ever Wonder Wednesday will take a closer look at one example of a contaminant that we often find in recycling containers.
While glass bottles and jars are recyclable, ceramics and glassware are not. Ceramics cannot be made into anything new with our current recycling technology. Glassware (plates, cups, vases, etc.) melt at a different temperature than glass bottles and jars. That means when it is time to make a new bottle or jar, that dishware glass is an impurity in the molten glass and will typically cause a newly formed glass bottle or jar to break. Place both ceramics and glassware in your landfill bound bins, or consider donating if they are still usable. Please help us spread the word that they don't belong in recycling bins.
Make sure that you are landfilling potentially harmful items instead of recycling them. Check out our recycling guide (see picture) for examples of what should and should not be recycled.
Light Bulbs… once they are burnt out, what do you do with them? Read more for this week's recycling tip:
When properly disposed of at EcoFlo, ALL light bulbs, including those with and without mercury are 100% recyclable! The various components are broken apart and made into a variety of new items.
- Glass is recycled into new glass items
- Aluminum end caps are recycled into other aluminum products
- Phosphor powder (a component of fluorescent bulbs) is cleaned and returned back into light tubes
- Wire goes to metal recycling facilities
- Mercury is purified (retort/distillation) in a high temperature oven and recycled as metallic mercury
Light bulbs that end up in the landfill do not break down over time. Their valuable (and sometimes toxic) components will remain in landfills for the foreseeable future as is. Make sure you do your part and recycle your light bulbs at EcoFlo Inc.
To properly dispose of lightbulbs, they need to be taken to the Household Hazardous Waste drop off site (EcoFlo). This location is free to all Guilford County residents. Household waste only, no businesses please (email me if you need assistance with hazardous business waste disposal).
HHW Drop-off Site
2750 Patterson St.
Wrappers, decorations, costumes… oh my!
Halloween is right around the corner and you may have lingering questions about what items are recyclable, what should be trashed, and what items may be donation worthy.
- Candy is the focal point of Halloween festivities. All candy wrappers and snack bags should go in your landfill-bound bin. If you have purchased a big bag of snacks, the outside bag that all the other candy or snacks came in is recyclable with your other plastic bags, film, and wrap at the grocery stores. Alternatively, check out Terracycle for a snack bag/wrapper mail in recycling program and fundraiser. Any boxes can be recycled, as long as they are empty.
- Aluminum foil can only be recycled if it doesn't have any leftover food in it, although it's ok if it isn't 100% clean. Be sure to roll up into a loose ball about the size of a tennis ball. Any smaller and it will fall through the cracks and not get recycled. Pro Recycler Tip: All those tiny candies and kisses that are wrapped in foil… collect the foil until you have enough to make a big enough ball!
- Decorations are not recyclable, but if you think yours still have life in them are you are ready to get rid of them, consider donating. Not all non-profits accept decorations, but Reconsidered Goods, our local non-profit Creative Reuse Center makes items like these available to artists, teachers, makers, crafters, and you at low costs--plus you get a tax write off for donating! Also, your unwanted decorations may become part of something new and fresh!
- Costumes are a great item to donate or consign! Plus if you are looking for next year's costume when you donate yours, you might find a great deal!
Has anyone ever had a debate with their significant other, parent, or maybe even your child about whether or not you should trash or recycle your pizza box? I know I have!
[drum roll please]
In Greensboro, pizza boxes should be… RECYCLED!
In years past, the grease that seeps into the bottom section of cardboard on a pizza box contaminated the recycling process so the cardboard couldn't be used to make new paper products. These days, an utterly empty (no hunks of cheese, crusts, paper liners, napkins, etc) pizza box with grease inside will not ruin a whole batch of recycled cardboard. You can rest easy knowing that you are adding to the recycling stream and not causing any additional problems.
"Tanglers" are a group of items that can damage recycling machinery. Any item that is put in the recycling container that isn't recyclable is called a contaminant. Ropes, wires, hoses, cords, clothes, plastic and cloth sheets, tarps, wire hangers, and plastic bags wrap around our rotating machine parts and not only decrease their ability to sort recycling, but can also break expensive equipment.
Folks that work at the Recycling Center must climb into these machines and cut out anything that has gotten tangled by hand--not a super safe task. By separating out objects that cannot hold their shape, you are making safer work environments for lots of people in the recycling industry. If you are unsure if something is a tangler or not, please put it in the landfill-bound bin (or reach out to me and I will help).
In summary, make sure that you are landfilling potentially harmful items instead of recycling them. Check out our recycling guide (see picture) for examples of what should and should not be recycled.
Have you ever wondered if recycling is really worth the effort? I have personally had residents ask why recycle if it is just going to get dumped into a landfill. Let's clear up a few questions…
- Why do I see recycling trucks picking up my trash?
All of our trucks have the same graphic designs on the side--recycling is something that we want everyone to think about at least once a day… so we put our pretty graphics on all of our trucks. There are designated trash and recycling trucks that pick up only trash or only recycling.
- I saw a truck pick up both the trash and recycling from the same house. WHY?
Typically this is because there is something non-recyclable sticking out of the recycling cart such as carpet, blinds, bedding, or yard waste. Contamination like this can be harmful to the machinery and workers at the recycling facility. For this reason, the carts are skipped by the recycling truck, tagged, and the garbage drivers pick them up.
- Doesn't recycling just go to the landfill anyway? I've heard you sort through the trash for recycling, so why should I put forth the effort to separate recycling?
The City provides (and your tax dollars pay for) two truck routes with distinctly separate destinations. Unfortunately, any recyclable materials that you put in the trash are picked up by our garbage trucks, taken directly to a transfer station, placed into a tractor-trailer, and go straight to a landfill. The time, effort, and money it would cost to hand sort the recyclables out of your garbage would be an inefficient use of your tax dollars--especially when you can sort at home! All materials you put in the recycling cart are taken directly to the recycling facility.
Recycling conserves resources, reduces waste to landfills, and creates jobs in the Carolinas. Greensboro is committed to making our community a great place to live, work, and play. Recycling is just one of the great ways that we can all work together to make our home a cleaner, safer, and more beautiful place. You may not feel like what you do as an individual makes a big difference--like you’re just a drop in the ocean. But if we all make small changes, those individual drops can make huge waves of change by sharing knowledge, encouraging others to recycle, and recycling every day of the year.
- Why do I see recycling trucks picking up my trash?
Thanksgiving… a wonderful holiday where we can gather together to celebrate what we are thankful for. And after your holiday meal, remember to put all food scraps and leftovers in your trash bin or compost. Food scraps don’t belong in recycling containers.
Food is one of the most frequent contaminants at our recycling processing facility. While your recyclable containers don't have to be spotless, please do not toss your half-full jars of cranberry sauce and takeout from last month in the recycling. Food scraps, leftovers, disposable plates, cups, flatware, and napkins (paper, plastic, or Styrofoam) cannot be recycled.
Disposable plates, no matter how clean, cannot be recycled because they all are sorted as if they are paper (since they are a flat objects). The paper plates, napkins, and paper towels are too low quality to be recycled into new paper products. If the plastic and Styrofoam plates are sorted like paper and contaminate paper recycling.
Disposable paper and Styrofoam cups are not recyclable because they are a 3D object that gets sorted like a plastic bottle or jug. Then they become a contaminant in the plastic container recycling processes. You CAN recycle disposable plastic cups.
Disposable spoons, forks, knives, and serving utensils cannot be recycled because they fall into our glass storage area. This big pile of glass travels to the glass recycling plant and they sort out non-glass material. Anything that is not glass and cannot be pulled out with a magnet will then go to the landfill.
Help reduce our waste and contamination in recycling this holiday season! Consider using reusable plates, cups, forks, and napkins for festivities and gatherings. If you do use disposable, make sure all guests know what is recyclable (plastic cups only), and that all other items should go in the trash. If you have ever considered backyard composting, try it now! Visit this site for more information about how to backyard compost.
And remember that grease should never be poured down your drain after holiday meals. Place it in a covered can or bottle and take it to the Household Hazardous Waste Center for proper disposal (2750 Patterson St. Wed-Sat 10-6, Sat 8-2).
Every year, millions of packages, shipping envelopes, and goodies crisscross the country. Here are some common recycling questions regarding shipping and packaging:
- If your cardboard boxes have tape on them, they are ok to recycle. Break down boxes to save space!
- Sometimes packages have plastic wrap stuck to the outside to hold shipping invoices. If you could remove that plastic wrap (and recycle at the grocery store), that would be helpful. If it is stuck on with industrial glue you cannot get off, you can still recycle the cardboard box.
- Mailing envelopes that are ONLY paper, even the ones with the little plastic windows you often find in bills. Those are fine to recycle.
- Mailing envelopes that are ONLY made of plastic film, with or without bubble wrap, (i.e. the ones that clothing often is shipped in) are only recyclable at the grocery store--not at home.
- If a mailing envelope is both paper and plastic (i.e. the kind with bubble wrap inside and paper on the outside), those need to go in your trash can.
Check out the attached image for examples of the items above.
Have too much recycling? You can take excess recycling to any one of our 20 free recycling drop off locations. You can find recycling drop off locations on the GSO Collects App, or on our website
Have excess garbage? You can take excess trash to the Burnt Poplar Transfer Station.
You may wonder what to do with all the leftover gift wrap. Here are some of the frequent questions we get asked about holiday recycling:
- Decorations, gift wrap, bags, tissue paper, bows, and ribbons cannot be recycled. Instead, they should go into your trash can. Why?
-Gift wrap can sometimes contain layers of plastic, foil, or other items that contaminate paper recycling processes, so please do not recycle them.
-Bows and ribbons can become tanglers! Be extra careful not to recycle them.
-Tissue paper fibers are too low quality to be made into new things.
- If you have gently used decorations, bows, bags, etc, that you no longer want, consider donating them to Reconsidered Goods, the Creative Reuse Center of the Triad, for an end of year tax write-off!
- Have lots of extra cardboard? We have 20 free recycling drop off locations! Break them down before placing them in at-home or drop off recycling containers--it can save a ton of space. Find drop off locations here on our GSO Collects app, or online.
You can also try these options for creative reuse…
-Save what you can to reuse next year.
-Give gifts in reusable bags. It's the gift that everyone's happy to receive because they can use them over and over again!
-Wrap your gifts in recyclable paper. This year, I chose to use old, outdated maps and tiny reusable cloth stockings for smaller items. See the attached pictures for how I made them festive. You can often find large quantities of paper like this at Reconsidered Goods. (2805 Patterson St. Tues-Sat, 10-5, Sun 12-5)
- Decorations, gift wrap, bags, tissue paper, bows, and ribbons cannot be recycled. Instead, they should go into your trash can. Why?
Holiday festivities can generate a lot of waste... Let's dive into some common party supplies, their disposal methods, and alternatives to help you have a wasteless gathering!
- Napkins: the fibers in napkins, tissues, and tissue paper are too short for paper mills to make them into anything new. Consider using cloth napkins over and over again. It's a great way to green up your party while making it super fancy!
- Toothpicks: even though paper is made from wood, we cannot accept any wood items in your at home recycling cart or drop off recycling containers. This includes scrap wood and those tiny toothpicks. Swap toothpicks in your cheese cubes for reusable and decorative tongs.
- Stir sticks and straws: both of these plastic items are not recyclable. Because of their shape and size, they fall through the cracks of the machinery at the recycling facility and end up going to the landfill. Consider reusable straws and stir sticks (or spoons) this season and you will not have to purchase these single-use plastics each year.
- Corks: both natural and synthetic corks are not recyclable in your regular recycling. Alternatively, try one of these ideas:
- Check out this cool Wine Cork Recycling Program! Up to 2 cents per cork is donated to causes that support forest and ocean conservation. Many of the corks they receive are also donated to non-profit organizations.
- Donate corks to Reconsidered Goods, the Creative Reuse Center of the Triad, for local makers, crafters, and students to create beautiful works of art with items that otherwise might have been landfilled.
Both of these organizations create American jobs for crafters, makers, and small business owners!
Wishing you happy--and wasteless--holiday gatherings!
I often hear from residents that they recycle EVERYTHING they can. But here is a question for you… do you recycle even when it isn't convenient?
Let's have a moment of honesty: who has ever had a recyclable bottle or can that you put in the garbage? I know I have (forgive me… it was before I joined the light side). Lots of us don't recycle 100% of the time when it's inconvenient. You may think to yourself, I know I recycle all the time… but consider this:
What if you’re out and you only see a trash can around? How long are you willing to hold on to that bottle before you give up and just throw it in the garbage? Ever been to a sports event, concert, or park and not seen recycling containers? It can be really frustrating to feel like you only have the choice to throw something in the garbage, but you do have the choice to take that bottle with you to recycle later.
When I was on vacation last year, I got a drink in a plastic bottle while walking around a city. When I finished it, I was disheartened to see no recycling containers around. I carried that bottle with me for about 30 minutes looking for a recycling container. When I could not find one, I decided to put it in my bag because I knew the bed and breakfast we stayed at had recycling containers.
About a week later, when we got home and I was unpacking, I found that bottle in my luggage… and ended up recycling it at home. My husband and I had a BIG laugh over this.
I am not saying that you have to be as crazy as me… but I wanted to drive home the point that you should be recycling away from home, just as much as you recycle at home. Ever been to a sports event, concert, or park and not seen recycling containers? It can be really frustrating to feel like you only have the choice to throw something in the garbage, but you do have the option to take that bottle with you to recycle later.
Do you know how many bottles are recycled in NC each year? 80%? 50%? No… it's only 30%. That means that 70% of the bottle waste we generate is being buried in landfills. Recycling is a choice you make. Sometimes it's not always the easiest choice, but when you choose to recycle, you are helping create American jobs. How?
When you recycle a plastic bottle, it can become a new plastic item like a bottle, container, or toy, but in Greensboro, it can also become something unexpected… yarn.
Anyone wearing polyester? Or ever heard of polyester? Well, it's made from oil based products. The company Unifi is headquartered here in Greensboro, and has processing facilities in Reidsville and Yadkinville that transform plastic bottles into polyester yarn. The cool thing about this is that it's chemically identical to polyester sourced from oil, but created from recycled materials.
The uncool thing is that the Reidsville plant that processes the bottles has to source recycled bottles from all over the US, as well as Canada and Mexico. In fact, all of the bottles collected from NC would only run the facility for one day out of the entire year. The plant literally is buying Mexico’s waste, because some are too lazy to recycle.
Because I have been too lazy to recycle.
Let’s change that. Can you join me in one simple commitment? Recycle all your plastic bottles this year. Simple enough, right? Maybe take it one step further and try to make sure your entire family recycles all of their plastic bottles, even if there are no recycling containers around when you are away from home.
For more information and videos about plastic bottle recycling, visit www.yourbottlemeansjobs.org
Used needles and other sharps… believe it or not, these are things we see far too often at our recycling center. Part of our recycling process includes hand sorting of items. While our employees wear personal protective equipment, including puncture resistant gloves, they can't always protect against tiny needles. Needles can injure people and spread infections that cause serious health conditions.
Never place loose needles and other sharps in household or public trash cans or recycling bins, and never flush them down the toilet. These acts put sanitation workers, janitors, housekeepers, household members, and children at risk of being harmed.
Safe ways to dispose of your sharps
In NC, it is currently legal to dispose of home injection needles collected in a plastic laundry bottle. This also includes syringes, vials, and other injection-related materials you might use for self-injections. Please follow these directions:
Never place loose needles and syringes in the trash or recycling!
- Label container “Do Not Recycle.”
- Put sharps in point-first.
- Containers more than half-full should be disposed of.
- Store sharps in closed container with the cap screwed on.
- Place in your trash can ONLY.
Mail-back disposal programs allow home sharps users to mail used sharps to licensed disposal facilities as a safe disposal option. These programs charge a fee for the service. Check with your healthcare provider or pharmacist, or search the yellow pages or Internet using key words “sharps mail-back.”
Needle Destruction Devices (that bend, break, incinerate, or shear needles)
-A device that incinerates needles and lancets can be used at home to destroy needles immediately after use. These small, portable devices use a few seconds of high heat to melt needles and reduce them to BB-size balls. Previously used only in healthcare facilities, these devices are now available in smaller, less expensive models for home use.
-A needle cutter or clipper automatically stores cut needles in a small refuse reservoir. Once the sharp is destroyed by heat or cutting, you can place the remains in a sealed container, such as a detergent bottle and place it in your household trash (not recycling).
Syringe Exchange Programs (SEP)
Sharps users can safely exchange used needles for new needles. Contact the North American Syringe Exchange Network at 253-272-4857.