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:
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!
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:
Buy Nothing Groups are being organized throughout the greater Rochester area. Group members trade goods and services, lend each other equipment, and give away surplus items to other neighbors who need them. To find a group in your neighborhood, search “buy nothing group rochester ny.”
Many of ColorBrightonGreen.org’s followers are interested in reducing, reusing, and recycling. Impact Earth is too. They have been working with some of our volunteers to achieve zero waste in the Brighton Central School District. This is now going to a whole new level and we are pleased to call them a partner in our common interests. To find out more about Impact Earth, visit their website!
The local chapter of the Sierra Club has started a petition on change.org to ban styrofoam in Monroe County. Despite the little 6 found on the bottom of most Styrofoam products, Styrofoam is virtually impossible to recycle. In Monroe County, Styrofoam is not accepted at curbside pick-up. Persistent individuals aiming to recycle packing Styrofoam can deliver it to the Monroe County EcoPark near the airport, but single-use food containers remain unrecyclable. According to the EcoPark’s website: “Styrofoam meat trays, egg cartons, coffee cups, takeout containers or other small post-consumer items have no local recycling option and should be placed in your trash.” This is partially because Styrofoam breaks down so easily that, if someone tried to clean it, all they would get is a mess of tiny beads.
Styrofoam is made of fossil fuels and other chemicals. Buying it supports an industry that contributes to climate change.
This is an opportunity to make a significant difference at the local level. In 2014, Albany County enacted a Styrofoam ban. It is long overdue for Monroe County. If you are a registered voter in Monroe County, please consider signing the petition and please make sure to include your address; if local lawmakers do not think that their constituents care about this, then neither will they. Lastly, please consider personally contacting your representative in the Monroe County Legislature.
To read the specific text of Albany County’s ban, please use this link.
The original, do-it-yourself green activity. Recycle your yard and kitchen wastes and create great organic material for your garden and lawn.
You’ll keep 500-600 pounds of waste from going to the landfill each year! Organic matter does not decay in a landfill, where it produces methane, which is 20 times more warming than CO2.
Just save out fruit and vegetable waste, egg shells, coffee grounds—including the paper filters, and moldy bread and make a pit or pile in a corner of your yard. Alternate with layers of dry leaves, saw dust, and any green yard waste. It will go dormant in the winter, but actively decay again when the temperature goes above 50 degrees. You can also buy composting bins that minimize odor and critter intruders, making composting easier than ever and possible in even small yards.
Sound like too much work? There is an easy way to make it happen! You can contract with Community Composting to collect your compostable waste on a regular basis with containers provided by the company. In return you can opt to receive already composted soil. The service is available in many parts of the Rochester area. If your area isn’t served yet, sign up to tell them you are interested. When enough people sign up, your neighborhood will be added to the service area!
Resources to get you started: