ColorBrightonGreen will stop taking pharmaceutical bottles in mid-June, but we wanted to start providing you with more information about why you cannot put them in your curbside recycle bin and what happens to them when you take them to the Monroe County Ecopark. Here is the story:
Let’s begin with why pill bottles are not acceptable in curbside recycling in Monroe County:
With current collection methods using compaction trucks, most are crushed and not useable. Most containers are so small they will not make it through the sorting system and end up in the trash. Additionally, most containers contain drug residue. When containers are crushed as above, this residue can become airborne and is dangerous to recycling center employees. Lastly, if these containers were to be accepted curbside, the invariable result is that drugs would be left in them – which is dangerous not only for the reasons outlined above, but with current realities regarding prescription drugs, this is an additional proactive step that can be taken to keep drugs out of the hands of people not authorized to have them.
Here’s the ecopark collection side of the story:
There are no good local reuse options for used prescription bottles because they vary greatly in shape and size and are not clean. Sorting of thousands of containers is not practical for the Monroe County Ecopark staff.
Here’s what happens to used prescription bottles that are dropped off at the Monroe County Ecopark:
It has been determined that incineration is the best method for the disposal of the pharmaceutical containers collected at the ecopark. This incineration occurs along with pharmaceuticals that are collected from across Monroe County at Covanta Niagara facility in Niagara Falls.
From the Covanta Niagara website:
The Niagara Resource Recovery Facility, a pioneer in the modern Energy-from-Waste industry, began converting municipal solid waste into clean, renewable energy in 1980. Today, the facility uses up to 2,250 tons of waste per day as fuel to generate low-cost steam for neighboring industrial customers and electricity for the Western New York region. By providing reliable, low-cost steam to local manufacturers, Covanta Niagara allows industrial customers to remain globally cost-competitive and help retain jobs in the region. In recognition of safety and operational excellence, the facility has been designated an OSHA Voluntary Protection Program (VPP) Star Facility and achieved the International Standardization Organization’s (ISO) 14001 environmental registration. The facility also recovers ferrous (steel) and non-ferrous (aluminum) metals.
Monroe County takes very seriously its responsibility to recycling, and takes great pains to assure that everything that is collected at the ecopark has a viable end-of-life option.
For an in-depth look at the ecopark, please take a few minutes to view this Ecopark video:
Plant-rich diets reduce emissions and also tend to be healthier, leading to lower rates of chronic disease. According to a 2016 study, business-as-usual emissions could be reduced by as much as 70 percent through adopting a vegan diet and 63 percent for a vegetarian diet, which includes cheese, milk, and eggs. $1 trillion in annual health-care costs and lost productivity would be saved.
As Zen master Thich Nhat Hanh has said, making the transition to a plant-based diet may be the most effective way an individual can stop climate change.
Dairy cows and their manure produce greenhouse gas emissions which contribute to climate change. Poor handling of manure and fertilizers can degrade local water resources. And unsustainable dairy farming and feed production can lead to the loss of ecologically important areas, such as prairies, wetlands, and forests.
The World Wildlife Federation (WWF) envisions a global marketplace in which all dairy is produced as sustainably as possible. By working to engage dairy farmers, co-ops, companies and others in promoting the use of sustainable practices, WWF aims to transform the milk production industry. to learn more about their ideas for sustainable dairies, see the WWF website.
There are numerous and varied ways to address key waste points. In lower-income countries, improving infrastructure for storage, processing, and transportation is essential. In higher-income regions, major interventions are needed at the retail and consumer levels. National food-waste targets and policies can encourage widespread change. Beyond addressing emissions, these efforts can also help to meet future food demand. Read more about what can be done to reduce food waste globally at the Project Drawdown Website.
Impact: After taking into account the adoption of plant-rich diets, if 50 percent of food waste is reduced by 2050, avoided emissions could be equal to 26.2 gigatons of carbon dioxide. Reducing waste also avoids the deforestation for additional farmland, preventing 44.4 gigatons of additional emissions. Project Drawdown used forecasts of regional waste estimated from farm to household. This data shows that up to 35 percent of food in high-income economies is thrown out by consumers; in low-income economies, however, relatively little is wasted at the household level. For more information on this issue, visit the Project Drawdown website.
After struggles in finding places to recycle alkaline batteries throughout 2017, ColorBrightonGreen.org has had to stop collecting them.
Our research has found that from an energy efficiency standpoint recycling of alkaline batteries is not at all efficient even if we could find a free or low cost method to recycle them. Alkaline batteries are not toxic and can be thrown in the garbage.
Rechargeable batteries are more environmentally friendly. A battery charger with 4 AA batteries can be purchased for $20. Additional 4-packs of rechargeable AAA or AA batteries can then be purchased for $10. Some of the rechargeable batteries that can be recharged the most will cost more than that amount. You can see a link to information about some of the best ones here. Rechargeable batteries will pay for themselves in most cases after only 10 charges.
If you have alkaline batteries that you really want to recycle, you can take 1 lb to Batteries Plus Bulbs in Henrietta or pay $20 to have them recycled through Waste Management.
Color Brighton Green will still collect and recycle button and rechargeable batteries.
Recently we have been asked about the best ways to reduce our carbon emissions. Here’s one list of answers from Science. I bet you could do at least one of them, and I suspect you will be surprised by some of them.
Plastic bags that get put in curbside recycle bins do not get recycled. Instead they clog the equipment used to sort and process other recyclable products and then those mangled plastic bags get landfilled. Local recyclers ask that you not even put other recyclables in a plastic bag for your curbside pickup. So, please help make recycling efficient by omitting all plastic bags from your curbside recycling containers. You can make a difference by saving and recycling plastic bags with the #2 or #4 on them by taking them back to the store collection sites. See this link for more information!
ColorBrightonGreen.org supports transportation infrastructure that will provide safe travel for non-carbon emitting vehicles such as bicycles. There is a proposed change to the lane configuration on Route 96 (East Avenue) between E. Highland Drive and Route 31F in the towns of Brighton and Pittsford. The current configuration of Rt. 96 is a 40′ wide roadway comprised of four 10′ wide lanes. The Fall 2017 proposed New York State Department of Transportation (NYSDOT) configuration was three 11’ wide lanes for motorized vehicles (the center lane being a turn lane), and two 3.5′ shoulders/unofficial bike lanes.
While ColorBrightonGreen.org supports the initiative of the NYSDOT to provide wider shoulders on this section of East Avenue, we don’t believe that maximizing speeds and leaving only 3.5′ wide bike lanes will protect the safety of all road users. ColorBrightonGreen and several other community groups (including Mothers Out Front, the Rochester Peoples’ Climate Coalition, and Rochester Cycling Alliance) have responded to a coordinated advocacy effort led by Robin Wilt to call for three 10′ vehicle lanes and two 5′ official bicycle lanes along this section of East Avenue. Such a configuration already exists on East Avenue at Winton Road (less than a half mile from the proposed project area).
ColorBrightonGreen.org sent written comments to the NYSDOT Project Design Engineer Daniel Schwind (Daniel.Schwind@dot.ny.gov), and to the Town of Brighton Board Members, and to other elected officials in December 2017. These letters can be seen here on our website.
Subsequent to local advocacy efforts, the NYSDOT has now proposed two 10′ vehicle lanes, one 11′ vehicle turning lane, and two 4.5′ wide shoulders that would not be official bicycle lanes. As of January 6, 2018, advocacy efforts for three 10′ wide vehicular lanes and two 5′ bicycle lanes continue.
Here are some sources of information for you to consider: Narrower Lanes Safer Streets Article from Planet Citizen. Bigger Isn’t Always Better: Narrow Traffic Lanes Make Cities Safer article from World Resources Institute. Narrower Lanes Safer Streets from Research Gate.
If you are interested in sustainability and in strengthening community you are invited to become a local part of a rapidly growing national and international movement. The Buy Nothing project seeks to create neighborhood gift economies, supporting the environment and strengthening person–to–person connections in the process.
Buy Nothing participants use Facebook to share items, services, and time with their neighbors. For example, if you have some well–loved but no–longer–needed dishes, you might offer these up. If you need to borrow an inflatable mattress for a guest, you might ask to borrow one. If you would like an occasional canine companion, you might ask if there’s someone whose dog would like to be walked. If you have a snowblower and are willing to use it to dig out a neighbor, you could let the group know. Buy Nothing groups are “hyperlocal”, meaning that everyone you will interact with will live near you. In this way, Buy Nothing interactions become community–enhancers as well. People who have gotten to know each other through Buy Nothing groups have formed walking groups, clubs, and cancer support groups. We are bringing back real Neighborhoods.
There are now six Buy Nothing groups in the Rochester area, and they are getting attention. Check out the recent Democrat and Chronicle article. Stay tuned for a ColorBrightonGreen fall event to promote the Buy Nothing Program. Meanwhile, if you’d like to join a Buy Nothing group, see if your home is within the confines of one of the following existing groups or explore how you can create a new group:
Updated March 28, 2018:
Community Choice Aggregation (CCA) is a bulk energy purchasing program intended to lower costs and transition to greater use of renewable energy for residents and small businesses in cities, towns, and villages that decide to participate.
As a member of the Rochester People’s Climate Coalition (RPCC), ColorBrightonGreen.org has committed to support this program because of the carbon cutting opportunities it offers.
Community Choice Aggregation is a program that has been advocated locally by the RPCC who has partnered with Joule Assets, whose principals helped make this program a reality in Westchester County. A local CCA has the ability to provide residents and small business electric customers a locally chosen alternative to the state-mandated utility—RG&E, National Grid, or NYSEG—for energy supply. A local CCA can represent the best interests of consumers by providing choices for lower, fixed prices and cleaner (100% renewable or 100% carbon free) energy.
In order for residents and small businesses to benefit from this program, their local government has to first pass a local law to authorize them to participate. To date, the Villages of Lima, Scottsville, and Brockport and the Towns of Geneva and Brighton have passed those local laws. In addition, the Villages of Lima and Brockport along with the Town of Geneva have advanced to the second step in making a CCA real by selecting an administrator—the team of RPCC/Joule Assets. The Town of Pittsford, potentially in collaboration with the Village of Pittsford has scheduled a CCA public meeting for Wednesday, April 18, 2018 to inform residents and Town Board members about CCA and potential Administrators. At the April meeting, two potential CCA Administrator organizations (RPCC/Joule Assets and Good Energy) will give presentations about CCA and their administrative implementation plans. Other municipal governments with an interest in CCA include the Cities of Rochester and Canandaigua, the Town of Irondequoit, and the Village of Honeoye Falls.
For more information on Community Choice Aggregation, visit the Rochester People’s Climate Coalition Website.