Posts filed under ‘Hazardous Waste’
I received a phone call this week about railroad tie disposal, and with the nice weather encouraging people to get out in their yards and do some cleanup or landscaping, I can’t say I am surprised. According to Waste Age, 13 million ties are in need of disposal every year in America. Over 90% of railroad ties are made of wood and usually treated with preservatives. The most common preservatives are arsenic or creosote, which looks like a black goo.
Due to the wood preservatives, it is not advisable to burn railroad ties yourself. There are, however, other disposal options.
Reuse. Railroad ties can be used in landscaping when they are kept whole.
Check out this article by Jack Stone from ProGarden for a wide variety of other landscaping uses.
If you don’t need any ties for this purpose, consider asking neighbors or posting a listing online.
It is important to note that because of the chemicals used on railroad ties they should not be chipped or burned. Also, they are not best used on soil that comes into direct contact with vegetables you intend to eat. Use untreated wood beams to surround your vegetable garden.
Disposal. If left whole, railroad ties can be treated as garbage and can be thrown away in a sanitary landfill. Check with your municipality to see if they can be picked up on a large pick-up day or if you need to transport them to the landfill yourself.
Mercury can be a grave environmental and health problem. On May 1, 1956, Minamata disease was discovered in Japan. This neurological disease is caused by severe mercury poisoning.
To reduce mercury’s impact on our environment:
- Reduce. Replace mercury thermometers & thermostats with non-mercury items.
- Recycle. When you do have an item with Mercury it is considered Hazardous Waste; recycle it responsibly. CFLs can be taken to many area hardware stores for recycling. Other items can be brought to a Waukesha County Household Hazardous Waste facility.
- Reduce Your Energy Use. One way that methylmercury gets into our environment is through burning coal for energy. By saving energy (turning off your lights, weatherizing your home, and recycling), you reduce the amount of coal burned.
- There are currently 70 operating, licensed landfills in WI, which is down from 1,158 in 1980. These landfills took in 10.8 million tons of solid waste. 1/5 of all waste landfilled in 2007 was from other states. Trash is down 3.2% in 2007 from 2006. 2008 numbers were not in this part of the report.
- Over 11,000 Wisconsin businesses, schools, and government institutions create hazardous waste each year.
- 1,061 different recycling programs in the state (a.k.a. Responsible Units)
- 411,047 tons of paper and containers were recycled by residential recycling programs in 2007. When businesses are included, this number rises to over 1 million tons of recyclables. This is the equivalent of taking 657,480 cars off the road for the year.
- It was a big year for construction & demolition waste. UW-Whitewater while demolishing old buildings and constructing a new business building recycled over 14,000 tons of materials. The demolition recycling rate was at 98%! Also, the Marquette Interchange project reused fly ash and some other industrial waste material to reduce costs and the environmental impact of road construction projects. There is also a growing mechanism to support asphalt shingle recycling.
Closer to Home
- Waukesha County processed 22,662 tons of residential recyclables. That saved enough energy to power 2,281 homes for 2008.
- Recycling earns your municipality money! In 2008, recycling dividends totaled $879,246.
- Over 2,000 people visited the Materials Recycling Facility. Schedule your tour today by calling 262.896.8300 if you are a community group, school group, or scout troop in Waukesha County.
- If you can’t make it to our facility, let us come to you! In 2008 our staff completed 63 presentations.
- Collected a total of 200,270 pounds of hazardous waste, a 1% increase compared to last year.
What is on our agenda for this year?
- We would love to inform your organization about recycling, green gardening practices with less pesticide use, green cleaning presentations, composting, and more.
- We are planning several Boy Scout Merit Badge Workshops.
- We will have a new traveling trunk to supplement the LEAF curriculum. If you are a teacher, visit our teacher page at www.waukeshacounty.gov/EnvironmentalEd to stay up to date with all of our new curriculum assistance and to download lessons that are already currently available.
- And tons more! Make sure to stay tuned!
Let’s talk some trash. The average Wisconsinitte creates over 4 1/2 lbs. of trash a day. This is what we put into landfills, and does not include all that we recycle. Despite the fact that we put so much stuff into landfills, most people know very little about them. So here we go: a little bit of info about landfills.
Where is the dump?
Nowhere. There are no dumps in Waukesha County, only landfills. This may seem like picky syntax, but there used to be dumps and now there are not so depending what you are getting rid of, you may have to go to a different location. Do you have something to trash? The first step is to make sure you can throw it in a landfill. According to Wisconsin state law the following items are banned from landfills.
- Lead acid batteries
- Major appliances
- Used motor oil
- Yard waste (Scroll down to ‘Item Questions’)
- Newspapers, magazines, courrugated cardboard, office paper and other recyclable paper
- Glass, aluminum, steel, tin, and plastic (#1 & #2) bottles and cans
Other items can be recycled, such as electronics and textiles. Some harmful substances like paint, chemicals, medical wastes, and antifreeze can also be disposed of in a more proper way than tossing it into a landfill.
If landfilling is the only option, check with your municipality to inquire about how much trash you can put out for curbside collection. Each municipality contracts (or allows their residents to contract) for trash service individually. They may or may not have included bulky items in their contract. If the municipality did not contract for large or bulky item trash pick-up, there may be a drop off site your community pays for, or you may have to call your hauler and arrange for a special pick up.
If you need to take your items to the landfill, there are 2 in Waukesha County. These are privately owned enterprises and you should contact the landfills for information about their fee schedule. Muskego (Emerald Park Landfill) — W124 S10629 S 124th St. — (414)529-1360. They are open Fridays & Saturdays. The other option is in Menomonee Falls (Orchard Ridge Landfill) — W124 N9355 Boundary Rd. –(262)253-8620. They are open Monday through Saturday.
They are going to charge me to throw it away?
Yes. Wisconsin has some of the cheapest disposal rates, but there is a cost to toss. Your contracted collection through your municipality is paid for by your community, some part of which you may see broken out on your tax bill. On average, it costs $35 a ton to throw something away in Wisconsin. This does not account for collection costs.
Isn’t a landfill just a hole in the ground?
Generally, waste is considered hazardous if it is
- Ignitable (i.e. burns readily)
- Reactive (i.e. explosive)
- Waste may also be considered hazardous if it contains certain toxic chemicals.
|Most hazardous products are labeled with key words. Some signal words are|
These products are not safe enough to be placed in your trash. Some examples of haz waste? From the house — cfls, mothballs, thermometers or thermostats with mercury, and polish or spot removers that are flammable. From the garage — oil based paint, stain, paint thinner, concrete cleaner with acids, or glues that contain petroleum distillates. From the yard — anything that kills weeds, bugs, or rodents, pool chemicals, and lighter fluid. From the car — antifreeze, carburetor cleaner, degreasers, fuel, and road flares.
These items are collected from Waukesha County residents at no cost. However, like every econ teacher says, “There is no free lunch!” This program is subsidized by revenue generating portions of the recycling program. Best thing to do? Avoid using hazardous products! This will keep you and the environment a little bit healthier. However, if you must use these items, make sure they end up in the right place. Drop off your hazardous waste in Waukesha County at one of 4 permanent centers. Once the products are collected, they are neutralized or taken to a special landfill designed to hold hazardous wastes.
Interested in cutting back on the toxins? Schedule a Green Cleaning Party to learn about ways to clean with less toxins or schedule a Green Garden Party to learn how to use less chemicals on your garden and lawn.
I am spending the majority of my day cleaning tomorrow. Ick. However, apparently I am not the only one because I have been receiving a few calls this week where residents want to know how to dispose of leftover cleaning products.
Disposing of typical cleaning products (cleaners with ammonia, cleaners with bleach, or typical disinfectants) can easily occur by pouring them down your drain. Never mix products containing ammonia with those containing bleach. A toxic gas can form! The bottles are usually recyclable, so make sure to check if the bottles have a #1 or a #2 on the bottom! Looking to make less of an environmental impact? See if a neighbor, family member, or other organization could use the left-overs. Best option? consider making your own for maximum environmental, health, and economic benefits.
Drain, oven, and toilet cleaners should be placed in the trash.
Metal cleaners, Floor wax strippers, and polish or spot removers with solvents (which would have words such as ‘flammable’, ‘comubstible’, or ‘contains petroleum distillates’) need to be brought to a county Household Hazardous Waste Collection Site.
To learn more about making your own household cleaners, schedule a Green Cleaning Party. Discover what toxins we clean with every day while learning to make various easy, inexpensive non-toxic alternatives. “Make & Take” two of your own favorite nontoxic cleaning products.
All Purpose Spray Cleaner
1 tsp castile soap
1 tsp borax
2 tbsp vinegar or lemon juice
Water to fill a 16 oz spray bottle
This mix contains borax so it is best not to use this spray in the kitchen or where food is prepared. Hot water increases the working power of the vinegar.
Total cost: 11¢ per bottle (compared to $1.65 for the same amount of 409 if you purchase the refill bulk bottle!)
Window & Kitchen Spray Cleaner
2 tbsp vinegar
1 tsp castile soap
Water to fill a 16 oz spray bottle
Hot water increases the working power of the vinegar.
Total cost: 10¢ per bottle
2 cups baking soda
1/2 cup castile soap
4 tsp vegetable glycerin (optional)
The glycerin acts as a preservative to keep everything moist and is one of the more expensive items in this mix. Avoid using the glycerin by mixing as you go. This non-abrasive cleaner is a great deodorizer and is safe pretty much anywhere. I have had AMAZING luck using it in my oven.
Total cost: $3.88 (with glycerin) $2.56 (w/o)
Wood Floor Mopping Cleaner
1/4 c castile soap
1/8 to 1/4 cup vinegar or lemon juice
1/4 cup herb tea
1 gallon of water
Total cost: $1.04
So, that is that. Looking for more recipes? Check out care2.com. Interested in hosting a Green Cleaning Party of your own? We were inspired by Women’s Voices for the Earth to add a cleaning party to our other party presentations (Green Garden Parties and Green Living Parties can also be scheduled through our office!) Check out their website for info on holding your own Green Cleaning Party. Also, as I have only been doing this for the past year and a half, I would love to hear from those DIY veterans out there! What are your favorite non-toxic cleaners?
*UPDATE* Leah over at Suddenly Frugal just made her first batch of DIY laundry soap. Check out the recipe and how it went at her blog.
GreenAR by the Day also came up with powdered dish soap. Check out the super-easy directions here.
We will leave it to the professionals this week kids. To keep up with all the news I am looking at, follow me on Digg.com.
What is happening to your e-waste? Make sure whomever takes your waste is handling it properly. One certification is the ISO-14001 and another is from the International Association of Electronics Recyclers
Does your desktop weigh 18 tons? Not by the time it gets to you, but according to United Nations University in the Oct. 13th issue of Waste News, the average desktop PC uses 18 tons of raw materials and 480 lbs of fossil fuels to manufacture. Think a laptop is a more environmentally sound purchase? The average laptop takes 10 tons of raw materials. Your average old-school computer monitor (i.e. the ones everyone is now trying to get rid of) contains anywhere from 4 to 8 lbs. of lead.
So what is an eco-friendly person to do with all of this nasty-ness?
Reduce, Reuse, Recycle.
First step, look into what you are purchasing. Some computers are much more eco-friendly. This requires some homework, but is well worth it. A past article in the Christian Science Monitor addresses some places to look. Also. Think about the up-grade-ability (that word was specifically created for my computer tech husband who loves when I get all technical with my verbiage). Though larger, desktops with real live towers are WAY WAY WAY easier to upgrade than a laptop. Consider this while making a purchasing decision. I own a laptop because I was under the assumption when I bought it that I would be taking it to classes (I didn’t), studying at the library (where is that place again?), and probably blogging from the top of some mountain that I only got to the top of with great assistance from a llama (yeah…no.). Be realistic about your needs before you purchase an item.
Recycling options are available. In Waukesha County there is a free program for residents for computers and computer related components. If you are elsewhere in Wisconsin, check out www.RecycleMoreWisconsin.org in order to get information for your community on a wide variety of recycling issues.
Electronics beyond computers are not accepted in Waukesha County’s program. With February 2009 looming, many people will be faced with a little conundrum. To reduce waste, you may get a converter box that will allow you to keep your current television. The government has a website that answers a lot of questions about this type of converter. If you have decided to replace your current TV, don’t forget about the disposal costs associated with your old set. Due to all of the metals, some toxic, the most environmentally responsible thing to do is to recycle your TV. This can be done through several local recycling companies. Otherwise, you will have to pay a fee for your hauler to take the TV to a landfill. We recommend negotiating the recycling of your old TV or product with the store from which you purchase your new TV. Recently, legislation in the Wisconsin state legislature tried to make this policy required. Some companies are starting up end-of-life recycling programs for their electronics, so check with the company that made your TV or computer as well.
Last but not least, the EPA released new standards for electronic recycling programs last Friday. While this is just the first step, eventually this will become a certification program so that you know your electronics are being handled in an environmentally friendly way.
Just a quick FYI – there will be a free computer drop-off program at Miller Brewing, located just off West Highland Boulevard at 38th Street and High Life Place.
If you live in Waukesha County and can not make it to this one time event, sleep easy. With proof of residency you may drop off your computer and computer components at:
- City of Waukesha Recycling Drop-off Site (900 Sentry Drive; Saturdays 8-4 & Wed. 11-7)
- City of Brookfield Highway Department (19450 Riverview Dr; Saturdays 8-5 & Tues/Thurs 1-7)
- New Berlin Recycle Center (3711 S Casper Dr; Saturdays 8-4 & Tues/Thrus 10-7)
For the past week, I have been working out of a box. Not because I am going through a Kerouac-ian journey (complete with Tang) to get in touch with my inner self – although the detour does sound nice – but rather because we are getting new carpet at the office.
Remodeling is a popular pastime, whether you are sprucing things up for yourself or trying to get an edge in the cut-thought real estate market. While bathroom remodeling is still the most popular, according to Gregg Hicks, director of marketing for Reliableremodeler.com, over 10% of polled individuals planned to redo some flooring or paint their walls as the most popular remodeling request for contractors. My guess is that a much higher percent of the population plans on these two projects, but may be the more do-it-yourself types or are counting it as a larger remodeling project. (If you are planning to blast through the side of your house with enough TNT to send Wylie E. Coyote into the next state to add a lavish master bedroom and bath mentioning that you are planning to repaint seems like a moot point)
A few tips to make your project eco-friendly.
What will you do with all of the stuff you are tearing out of your home? If you are DIY contact local recyclers to see what can be recycled of your construction and demolition debris. If you are working with a contractor, make sure they handle your waste in a responsible way. Some recycling companies will recycle your old carpet. Could you donate items that no longer fit your decorating scheme? Check out Waukesha County’s C&D recycling page to see what other materials you can reuse or recycle.
Use Sustainable & Green products
Green paint, as in eco-friendly – not chartreuse – use less harmful chemicals and are easier to dispose of. For some good background information, visit the state of California’s website, which has some great information on what makes an eco-friendly product.
Measure Twice, Cut Once
This would not be a cliché if it were not true. Well, at the very least it is good advice. Make use of online calculators. This one tells you not only how many gallons to buy, but figures it out based on what type of painting you are doing. (For normal painting with a roller make sure to select that information on the second page because the calculator defaults the most paint you would need for very absorbent and rough surfaces.) Average cover rate is 400 to 450 sq feet per gallon. Use green sealed paints if possible and latex as a second best choice.
Options for leftovers.
Try to use up leftovers. After all, mom did always tell you to use what you take. Some reuse ideas include:
- Paint a piece of furniture that goes in an adjacent room
- Donate it to a friend, church, high school, recreation department, community theater group, or other organization
Latex paint, once dried, can be thrown away with your normal trash while oil based paints must be treated as household hazardous waste. These are very expensive disposal options.
By pre-planning and thinking about how to be eco-friendly through disposal, product selection, and leftover products your reconstruction project will be as easy as pie.