A DEPARTMENT OF THE STATE OF LOUISIANA

LAND

Recycling

Holiday Card Recycling

Mercury

Health Care Waste

Rechargable Battery Recycling

Electronic Waste

 

Holiday Card Recycling

So many of you have asked about our program in the last few weeks.  We have faced some staff realignments in the last few years.  The annual holiday card recycling projects where we collected hundreds of cards are no longer.  

Because many of you are interested in making better choices, we would like to challenge you to find programs in your area that can use your cards.  Look for youth programs and art programs, sheltered workshops and occupational rehab programs, assisted living and nursing homes.  Share with them the projects making ornaments and gift boxes from greeting cards.  Use you imagination to design place mats, gift tags and other items.  Then offer the programs your cards and your time and talents. The benefits you reap will go far beyond keeping paper out of the landfills.

Holiday greeting cards do not lend themselves to recycling with white paper or newsprint recycling efforts.  The bright inks that make them so pretty for the holidays, are too concentrated for the standard recycle processes.  The add-ons, like the metallic print and glitter also "gum up the works" in paper recycling.

Consider initiating a greeting card recycle project for your office or school.  For more information, send us mail at deqassistance@LA.GOV.

 

Mercury

Mercury is commonly used in the home in some over-the-counter thermometers, thermostats, and in fluorescent light bulbs. The question often arises, "If there is an accidental spill of mercury in my home, how do I dispose it?" There are safe practices that can be utilized while handling and disposing of small amounts (less than I teaspoon) of liquid mercury. Larger amounts require professional assistance. Do not hesitate to call for assistance in handling liquid mercury spills. Large spills or spills of mercury compounds can be life threatening and should be handled by professionals.

Mercury is the only common metal that is liquid at room temperature. It appears to be liquid silver. It will roll around like beads of silvery white water.

Warning: Mercury is a virulent poison. Short-term or long-term exposures to mercury can lead to serious health problems, including death. Human exposure to mercury occurs primarily from breathing contaminated air. Mercury is also readily absorbed though the gastrointestinal tract and through the skin. Even though symptoms do not appear, serious damage can be done to the human body. Never use a vacuum cleaner to clean up a mercury spill. Children and pregnant women should not be exposed to mercury. In the case of a large spill, all occupants should evacuate the area.

Handling. If mercury escapes into the environment, evacuate children and pregnant women. Remove all jewelry, especially gold. Handle the mercury carefully. Wear rubber gloves and scoop it onto a sheet of paper or suck it up with an eyedropper. Place the mercury in a medicine vial or similar airtight container. The scoop, paper or eyedropper should also be bagged and disposed properly according to guidance provided by environmental officials or your local health department. Ventilate the room to the outside and close off the rest of the home. Use fans for a minimum of one hour to speed the ventilation. Do not simply throw the mercury away. Seek professional guidance from local recycling, solid waste or hazardous waste agencies. Large retailers and building centers may accept glass-encapsulated mercury, as in thermostats, for recycling.

Keep any objects containing mercury out of the reach of children. Children found to be playing with liquid mercury or broken fluorescent lamps should be referred to a physician or poison control center immediately. Mercury contaminated gold jewelry must be taken to a jeweler to have them professionally cleaned. While handling mercury, or any other hazardous substance, one should always wear protective gloves. If mercury contacts with the skin, wash the area(s) thoroughly and immediately with soap and warm water. If you believe that you have absorbed mercury though your skin or inhaled mercury vapors, you should contact your physician or poison control center immediately.

For additional information, contact the Louisiana Department of Environmental Quality at 1-800-305-6621.

 

Health Care Waste

Advances in medicine now allow us to monitor and treat some elements of our health and the health of our family at home. These advances can save us costly and frequent visits to health care professionals for such health monitoring and treatment as blood glucose, common colds and some allergic reactions, and kidney functions/dialysis.

An increasing challenge that comes with these medical advances is the proper management of the waste generated. These wastes include:
 

Used needles, syringes, and lancets
Medicine - unused or outdated
Broken thermometers
Contaminated dressings/Dialysis filter material

Used Needles, Syringes and Lancets

While used needles, syringes, lancets and other sharp implements may be safely disposed with the other solid wastes from the home, it is important to exercise care in packaging needles, syringes, and lancets for disposal. The safe packaging of these wastes may be accomplished very simply in the home. Use a rigid plastic bottle with a tight fitting cap, such as empty laundry detergent or fabric softeners bottles to store and dispose "sharps." Do not put sharp objects in any container that will be recycled or returned to a store. Needles and syringes need not be recapped. The rigid bottle will minimize the potential for needle sticks. When the bottle is full, add plaster of Paris to the level of the neck of the container, cap it tightly, and place it with your other solid waste for disposal.

Unused and Outdated Medicine

Unused and outdated medicines stored in the home provide a considerable risk to children as well as individuals with vision or mental impairment.  Sharps Compliance, Inc. www.sharpsinc.com/locations can help find a pharmacy that participates in the unused or expired medication disposal program.Pharmaceutical disposal practices:

Trace amounts of pharmaceuticals and other personal care products (also known as PPCPs) are being detected in our nation’s water and drinking water systems. These substances, such as antibiotics, caffeine, or aspirin, may end up in the environment through human or animal waste, runoff from animal feeding operations, or by improper disposal from flushing medicines down the toilet. Much information exists on these substances for therapeutic doses, but little data exists on the potential effects on public health or aquatic life in the low doses that are now being recognized in our waterways.

Currently, the Environmental Protection Agency has not set maximum contaminant levels (MCLs) for these substances in drinking water. However, environmental and health agencies are concerned and believe that more work needs to be done to evaluate the health and environmental impacts of these substances. For more information on this topic, refer to the Environmental Protection Agency, the US Geological Survey, the American Waterworks Association, and the US Senate Committee on Environment and Public Works, Subcommittee on Transportation, Infrastructure, Security, and Water Quality.

The Office of National Drug Control Policy recommends the following guidelines for proper disposal of prescription drugs:

  • Take unused, unneeded, or expired prescription drugs out of their original containers and throw them in the trash.
  • Mix prescription drugs with an undesirable substance, such as used coffee grounds or kitty litter, and put them in impermeable, non-descript containers, such as empty cans or sealable bags.
  • Flush prescription drugs down the toilet only if the label or accompanying patient information specifically instructs doing so (see right column).
  • Take advantage of community pharmaceutical take-back programs that allow the public to bring unused drugs to a central location for proper disposal. These programs are a good way to dispose of unused pharmaceuticals.

However, certain medicines may be especially harmful and, in some cases, fatal in a single dose if they are used by someone other than the person the medicine was prescribed for. For this reason, a few medicines have special disposal directions that indicate they should be flushed down the sink or toilet after the medicine is no longer needed. If you dispose of these medicines down the sink or toilet, they cannot be accidently used by children, pets, or anybody else.

You may have also received disposal directions for these medicines when you picked up your prescription. If your medicine is on this list, and you did not receive information on disposal with your prescription, you can find directions on how to dispose of the medicines at DailyMed1. After you search on the drug name, the disposal information for these medicines can be found in one of the following sections of the prescribing information:

  • Information for Patients and Caregivers
  • Patient Information
  • Patient Counseling Information
  • Safety and Handling Instructions
  • Medication Guide

It is important to note that disposal by flushing is not recommended for the vast majority of medicines. Unused or expired medicines that do not have flushing directions in the label can be disposed of safely in the household trash by:

  1. Mixing them with something that will hide the medicine or make it unappealing, such as kitty litter or used coffee grounds.
  2. Placing the mixture in a container such as a sealed plastic bag.
  3. Throwing the container in your household trash.

 

For additional information about the disposal of medicine that is no longer needed, please visit Frequently Asked Questions, or if you have additional questions about disposing of your medicine, please contact us at 1-888-INFO-FDA (1-888-463-6332).

Broken Thermometers

Mercury filled thermometers provide an effective low cost method for monitoring body temperature. A broken thermometer presents two immediate challenges, the broken glass and the metallic mercury. Both of these materials should be scooped immediately into a rigid container with a tight fitting cap and carefully sealed. Special care must be taken to ensure that all of the mercury "beads" are contained. Many of them may be very small and they will scatter on impact. The contained mercury and glass should be sent to an appropriate recycle operation. Laboratories, fluorescent light recyclers, and your state or local recycle coordinator should be able to help you find a recycler. Care should also be taken to avoid contact of the mercury with any items made of gold. Should a gold-to-mercury contact occur, contact a jeweler or chemist immediately to have the gold treated for mercury removal. This treatment should not be attempted in the home.

Contaminated Dressings/Dialysis Filter Material

Contaminated wound dressings, disposable sheets and pads, gloves, and dialysis machine filters may be double bagged in a standard plastic garbage bag and securely fastened. This material may then be combined with other household garbage for disposal.

Rechargable Battery Recycling

The Portable Rechargeable Battery Association (PRBA) has implemented a nation-wide nickel-cadmium (NiCad) battery recycling program. Individuals with household batteries can call 1-800-8-BATTERY, that is 1-800-822-8837. Follow the instructions (recorded) and be told by a computer voice where the nearest drop off point is by zip code.

Rechargeable Battery Recycling Corporation is a non-profit, public service organization created to promote the recycling of Nickel-Cadmium (Ni-Cd) rechargeable batteries.

Electronic Waste

Electronics Reuse and Recycling

Diverting e-waste from our landfills help protect our environment and conserve resources.

  • For every thousand cell phones we recycle, 35 pounds of copper, 12 ounces of silver, 1 ounce of gold, and ½ ounce of palladium can be recovered.
  • Recycling one thousand laptops saves the energy equivalent to the electricity used by three Louisiana homes in an entire year.

E-recycling by certified recyclers ensures that valuable materials are not wasted, and that toxic materials are not landfilled or incinerated.

What Items can be Recycled?

Computers, laptops, cell phones, televisions (check with recycler), rechargeable batteries, radios, monitors, printers, video game systems, digital cameras, fax machines, toner cartridges, etc.

What Items cannot (generally) be Recycled?

Home appliances (e.g. microwaves, stoves, refrigerators, A/C units, furniture, copy machines)

List of E-recycling dropoff locations in Louisiana*

List of E-recycling events in Louisiana*

* These lists are for informational purposes only; LDEQ does not endorse or recommend any e-recyclers.

Issues with Discarded Electronics

Hazardous component constituents like lead, mercury and cadmium can be found in televisions and computer monitors. Materials such as nickel, beryllium, and zinc can be found in circuit boards. It is important that we be careful how we dispose these items due to the presence of these substances. Non-residential waste generators must conduct a hazardous waste determination before sending e-waste for disposal.

What Should I Consider Before I Buy a New Electronic Device?

Keep the environment in mind by asking:

  • Can I upgrade my old equipment?
  • What parts can I reuse in my new system? PC users can think about reusing monitors, scanners, printers and other peripherals.
  • Does the manufacturer have a take back program? If so, what are the restrictions?
  • Does my employer have a recycling program? Is there a cost to the consumer?
  • Is there a local electronics dropoff site or periodic collection event?
  • Are there any schools, charity or non-profit organizations in the area to which I can donate the equipment?

Helpful Links to Donate Your Electronic Equipment

Corporate Recycling Tax Credits    PDF / Document

Taxpaying entities who purchase qualified new recycling manufacturing or process equipment, and/or qualified service contracts, may be eligible for a tax credit of 14.4% against Louisiana income and corporation franchise taxes.  The equipment must be new machinery or apparatus used exclusively to process post-consumer waste material, and/or recovered material, or new manufacturing machinery used exclusively to produce finished products from >50% post-consumer waste material in the state of Louisiana.  Applicants must complete an Application for Income Tax Credit for Qualified New Recycling Equipment (see link).  More information can be found in the DEQ Solid Waste regulations, LAC 33:VII.Chapter 104.

Helpful Reading Materials (require Adobe Reader software)

For more information about electronics recycling, contact the DEQ at 1-866-896-LDEQ (5337).

Note: The Department does not collect electronics for recycling.  We will be happy to connect you with the nearest recycling opportunity.