Residents of the Town of North Hempstead (New York) recently received a snail mail newsletter from the town. It contained what — for this resident anyway — was good news. It was news that relieved the environmentally enlightened among us of one additional daily chore. How many communications do you receive from anyone that reduce a daily burden of ToDo’s? What was that news?
“Plastics, Son. Plastics.”
News that the Town of North Hempstead would follow the example of New York City by increasing the types of plastics that would be accepted in the recycle stream. As has been previously mentioned on this blog, only #1 and #2 plastics were accepted prior to this announcement.
That may sound straightforward enough, but in practice it was not easy to identify which plastics were in the Do Not Recycle list. Now everything except #3 and very large hard plastics (e.g., big plastic toys) can be recycled. That includes the following types of plastics. The summaries are adapted from The Daily Green:
- Number 4: Low density polyethylene is used in or in packaging for squeezable bottles; bread, frozen food, dry cleaning and shopping bags; tote bags; clothing; furniture; carpet.
- Number 5: Polypropylene is used in packaging for some yogurt containers, syrup bottles, ketchup bottles, bottle caps, straws and medicine bottles.
- Number 6: Polystyrene is used in for disposable plates and cups, meat trays, egg cartons, carry-out containers, aspirin bottles and compact disc cases.
What is plastic that is NOT accepted? Number 3 is PVC, the stuff outdoor irrigation piping is made from. It’s also used in window cleaner and detergent bottles, shampoo bottles, cooking oil bottles, clear food packaging, wire jackets (covering over electrical cable), medical equipment, siding and some windows components. Number 7 is heavy duty plastics, such as five-gallon water bottles, computer cases and plastic signs.
So it’s easier to know what needs to be cleaned up and tossed into the recycle bin, and which should be added to a landfill mountain somewhere.
Recycling the Recycled
Also changed are the rules surrounding cardboard. Previously, cereal box cardboard, called “paperboard,” which is the kind with the gray interior, was not accepted. Paperboard is now OK for recycling.
One item remains somewhat anomalous: batteries. Recyclable batteries are to be taken to the electronics recycling centers, or according to New York’s Rechargeable Battery law, stores that sell rechargeable batteries (or products containing rechargeable batteries) must accept returns of up to ten batteries of the same shape and size as they sell, free of charge. Didn’t know that. The NYS site also recommends expanding the use of rechargeables, but sometimes devices won’t work properly with rechargeable batteries if theyt were designed for NiCads only.
Battery Recycling Remains Limited
But what about the most common battery, the non-rechargeable AA? Sadly, it’s to the landfill for those unless additional steps are taken. Earth911.com recommends protecting the landfill by putting multiple batteries in a plastic bag and taping the battery ends with masking tape. These batteries CAN be recycled — they have useful steel and zinc in them — but in today’s market, you’ll have to pay to recycle them. Here’s at least one source to investigate for returning a year’s worth of batteries.
All this is good news. Now if I can just get the neighbors to play nicely, too.
Here is a full size copy of the main flyer.