What do I do with…

The information provided on this page is informational only. The MRF Advisory Board does not endorse any third party entities linked from this page nor is there any implied endorsement of third party programs and/or practices.

 

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Aerosol cans

Recycle only EMPTY aerosol cans that did not contain hazardous materials or chemicals.  Acceptable aerosol cans: EMPTY health and beauty products such as sun block, first aid spray, hair products, deodorant, and shaving cream; food products such as cooking spray (i.e., PAM), whipped cream, aerosol cake frosting; and laundry products such as spray starch, anti-static spray; and air fresheners. All caps should be removed and discarded with your trash.  Do not puncture, pierce, flatten, or remove nozzles prior to recycling.

Not acceptable for recycling: empty aerosols that once contained hazardous materials such as insecticides, spray paint, automotive sprays, adhesives, cleaning products, craft products, waterproofing sprays and lubricants.  Empty hazardous waste aerosols can be put in the trash. Aerosol cans that still contain hazardous materials or chemicals should be delivered to a household hazardous waste collection.

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Aluminum foil & products

Clean the best you can, and recycle with your bottles & cans.

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Aluminum siding (see “Scrap metal”)

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Ammunition & explosives

Call your local Police Department for proper disposal instructions.

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Antifreeze (see “Automotive products”)

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Appliances (see “Scrap metal”)

For general information about how to recycle an old appliance, visit the local information page and click on your town. Fees and special requirements for appliances containing Freon may apply.

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Arts, crafts & hobby items

Go to www.crazycrayons.com for information about recycling old crayons. Schools can recycle Elmer’s glue bottles and sticks through the Glue Crew Program (www.elmersgluecrew.com).

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Asbestos

There are strict removal and disposal requirements for asbestos. Check the Yellow Pages (under “Asbestos Abatement and Removal Services” or “Asbestos Consultants”).

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Athletic shoes (see “Shoes”)

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Automobiles (see “Vehicles”)

Automotive products

Automotive products contain many hazardous materials and must be handled with care. Do not dump in your trash, on the ground or down the drain.

  • Motor oil
    Even a small amount of motor oil will contaminate water and soil. In Massachusetts, retailers are required by law to accept up to two gallons of your used oil at no charge with an original sales receipt. Some auto repair shops and gas stations will accept your oil even if you didn’t buy it from them. To locate a local collection center, call the MassDEP Used Oil Hotline at 617-556-1022 or visit the local information page and click on your town. to find out if automotive products are accepted at your recycling/transfer station or household hazardous waste collection.
  • Motor oil filters
    Some auto repair shops will recycle oil filters for free. Visit the local information page and click on your town. to learn more about local options. Oil filters may be thrown away only when the oil has been completely drained out. Do this by puncturing the dome top and draining the oil into a collection container while the filter is still warm. Properly drained filters may be recycled as scrap metal in some communities.
  • Empty motor oil bottles
    Bottles and other packaging that contained hazardous products are not recyclable and should be thrown away as trash. Do not rinse first.
  • Antifreeze
    Antifreeze is not only hazardous but; its deceiving color and sweet taste may attract children, pets and wild animals and will poison them. Consider having your vehicle’s radiator flushed at a service station to avoid the responsibility associated with proper storage, handling and disposal. Visit the local information page and click on your town. to find out if automotive products are accepted at your local recycling/transfer station or household hazardous waste collection.

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Ballasts (“Mercury & mercury-containing products”)

Ballasts from fluorescent lamps may contain PCBs, a hazardous material.

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Batteries

Common household batteries (alkaline, zinc and others in sizes A, AA, AAA, C and D) manufactured after 1994 don’t contain mercury or other hazardous components and can be thrown away in your regular trash. All other types of batteries require special disposal because they contain hazardous materials. Many communities have convenient disposal options; visit the local information page and click on your town. for details. In addition:

  • Button batteries (found in watches, hearing aids, electronics and some toys):
    Stores that sell button batteries and watch/jewelry shops might accept button batteries for free.
  • Lead acid batteries (found in automobiles, trucks, lawn mowers):
    When you buy a new battery, the retailer is required to take your old one back at no charge. Visit the local information page and click on your town. to find out if automotive products are accepted at your local recycling/transfer center.
  • Lithium batteries (found in many applications, primarily in cameras):
    Check all batteries carefully before disposal; look for “Lithium” on the label. They may resemble alkaline batteries, but lithium batteries should be recycled properly. Visit the local information page and click on your town. to find out if batteries are accepted at your recycling/transfer station..
  • Rechargeable batteries (found in cellular and cordless phones, digital cameras, laptop computers, cordless power tools, camcorders, electric razors, remote-control toys, two-way radios, electric toothbrushes, exit lights, computer backup systems, emergency medical equipment).
    A useful website for finding local places to recycle rechargeable batteries is www.call2recycle.org. The following companies offer recycling programs for Nickel Cadmium (Ni-Cd), Nickel Metal Hydride (Ni-MH), Lithium Ion (Li-ion), Nickel-Zinc (Ni-Zn), small Sealed Lead Acid (Pb) batteries up to 11 pounds at no cost: AT&T, Best Buy, Black & Decker, Home Depot, Interstate Battery Centers, Lowes, Office Depot, Orchard Supply, RadioShack, Sears, Staples, Target, US Cellular and Verizon Wireless.

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Bicycles

To give away a bicycle in good condition, try www.freecycle.org, or  www.pedalpeople.com. You can also search online for local reuse events and charitable organizations that accept bikes using “bicycle donation”. For recycling options, see “Scrap Metal.”

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Boats (see “Vehicles”)

Books

Books in good condition may be taken to public libraries, used bookstores, or to a book exchange area at your local recycling/transfer station. At many transfer stations in western Massachusetts, book collection services are provided by “GotBooks!” (a for-profit organization that sells books for charitable purposes; www.gotbooks.com) or “Hands Across the Water” (a non-profit organization; www.surplusbooksforcharity.org). Search the web for ways to donate, sell or trade books, CD’s and DVD’s. Books that are unsuitable for reuse can be recycled. Paperback books and phonebooks can be recycled as is, but the covers/spines from hardcover books must be removed prior to recycling.

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Bubble wrap & inflatable plastic packaging (see “Plastics”)

Building & remodeling materials

Construction & Demolition (“C&D”) waste includes asphalt, asphalt shingles, bricks, cement, cinder blocks, clapboard, concrete, doors, flooring, insulation, lumber, mortar, plaster, plywood, roofing, sheetrock, shingles, tiles, windows and wood. Vehicles with a capacity greater than 5 cubic yards are subject to strict disposal requirements for C&D wastes in Massachusetts (see www.mass.gov/dep/recycle/solid/cdbanfaq.pdf)

Please note: pressure-treated wood should only be disposed of in a modern landfill. Don’t put it in a backyard compost, brush or chipping pile. Don’t burn it or send it to a waste incinerator for disposal.

Used building materials (in good condition) can be donated for re-use. Locally, EcoBuilding Bargains and Habitat for Humanity ReStore in Westfield accept a variety of green building products, as well as offering deconstruction services. Tax-deductible, donated items must be in reusable condition. Contact prior to delivery or to arrange free pickup:

  • EcoBuilding Bargains (formerly the “ReStore”), 83 Warwick Street, Springfield, MA (413-788-6900; www.ecobuildingbargains.org)
  • Habitat for Humanity ReStore in Westfield, 301 E. Main Street, Westfield, MA 01085 (413-642-8990; www.ReStoreWestfield.com)

Wooden pallets can be reused or recycled as “clean wood waste.” Disposal options for large quantities include (but are not limited to) Martin’s Farm (413-774-5631), Index Packaging (800-662-3626 x111), LTL Pallet Services (978-939-4302), Full Cycle Composting (413-562-0193) and Industrial Pallet, LLC (860-974-0093).

Fee-based disposal options are available at most recycling/transfer stations; visit the local information page and click on your town. for more information.

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Cameras

Get cash for Kodak digital cameras, video cameras, film cameras, lenses, flashes, and many camera accessories, as well as digital picture frames and photo printers at the www.trade-in-center.com/kodak website. Canon also has a mail-in recycling program; check out www.shop.usa.canon.com for more information (under “accessories”).

Carpet

Fee-based disposal of area rugs, carpets and padding is available at most recycling/transfer stations; visit the local information page and click on your town. for details. Flor® offers a free mail-back recycling program for carpet squares; see www.flor.com/recycle for more information.

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Cartons & drink boxes

Paper cartons (“aseptic packaging” for dairy products, soy milk, soup, juice) can be recycled with bottles and cans. Rinse and flatten containers. Discard straws; plastic caps and spouts may stay on. Do not include drink “pouches” with your bottles and cans; drink pouches can be recycled through Terracycle (www.terracycle.net).

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Cartridges (see “Ink cartridges”)

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Cell phones

Cell phones shouldn’t be thrown away due to their reuse value and hazardous/recyclable components. Numerous charitable and for-profit organizations accept cell phone donations. Search on-line using “cell phone donation”. Most stores that sell cellular phones and electronics will also accept them back for free (see list under “Batteries”)

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Christmas trees (see “Yard waste”)

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Clamshells & other clear molded plastics (see “Plastics”)

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Cleaners (see “Hazardous household waste”)

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Clothing & textiles

Local reuse and donation opportunities exist for all kinds of textiles and shoes. Deliver clean/dry/used textiles and clothing to donation centers and drop-off boxes for Goodwill Industries(www.goodwill.org) and the Salvation Army (www.use.salvationarmy.org).  Include items that are torn, stained, with missing buttons or broken zippers.  These organizations will also welcome old hats, gloves, (mismatched) socks, underwear, belts, ties, purses, handbags and shoes in any condition, as long as they are CLEAN AND DRY. Donations of household goods like curtains, pillows, drapes, comforters, sheets, pillow cases, towels, stuffed animals, table cloths and linens can be donated as well. Animal shelters also accept old sheets, blankets, pillowcases, bedspreads, throw rugs and towels for reuse.

To swap clothes for free with local folks, consider forming a “MeetUp Group” (www.clothesswap.meetup.com). To swap clothes internationally, check out www.swapstyle.com. Busy families can use thredUP.com, an online resource for selling and buying used, good quality children’s clothing.

New and gently used bras can be mailed to 3317 S. Higley Road, Suite 114-441, Gilbert, AZ 85297 for distribution to women in transition around the world. Visit www.brarecycling.com for more information.

The “Save Your Scrubs” program (www.globallinks.org) collects gently-used scrubs to distribute to medical personnel in resource-poor communities overseas; mail to Global Links, 4809 Penn Ave. #2, Pittsburgh, PA 15224 Attn: Save Your Scrubs.

Denim in any condition can be recycled into insulation through cottonfrombluetogreen.org. Mail jeans and other denim products to the Blue to Green Denim Recycling Program, 431 North 47th Avenue,
Phoenix, AZ 85043.

Many non-profit organizations target specific types of clothing to benefit those in need. Search online to find ways to donate winter coats, business clothes, prom dresses, wedding dresses, tuxedos, and more.

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Coat hangers

Some charitable organizations will accept hangers for reuse or resale. Metal hangers are accepted for reuse by some dry cleaners and are also accepted for recycling as scrap metal at most recycling/transfer stations. Unfortunately, plastic hangers are not recyclable  and should be thrown away when they are no longer useable.

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Compact fluorescent lamps (“Mercury & mercury-containing products”)

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Computers (see “Electronics”)

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Construction & demolition waste (see “Building & remodeling materials”)

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Cooking oil

Some types of used vegetable oils are accepted at Evergreen Motors in Greenfield; call 413-772-3131 to find out if your oil is acceptable. Northampton collects used vegetable oil at the DPW; call 413-587-1059 for more information. ReEnergizer of Holyoke (www.localvegoil.com) will accept vegetable oil by appointment and provides collection services for larger generators; call (413) 322-3324 or email peter@localvegoil.com. Do not drop-off oil at any of these sites without prior confirmation.

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Corks

Corks should not be put in your recycling bin. Wine corks can be reused in many creative ways (search online for “cork art”) and natural corks can be crumbled and added to a backyard compost bin. ReCORK (www.recork.org) uses natural wine & champagne corks (no plastic or metal corks) to make shoe soles; Ryan & Casey Liquors in Greenfield is a ReCork collection site. Yemm & Hart (www.yemmhart.com) use only natural corks to make floor and wall tiles.  Mail them to: Wine Cork Recycling, 425 North Chamber Drive, Fredericktown MO  63645.

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Cosmetics containers

Origins offers free recycling of make-up packaging, regardless of brand. Empty cosmetic tubes, bottles, lipstick covers, jars and caps can be brought to an Origins retail store or department store counter nationwide. To find a drop-off location, go to www.origins.com. MAC cosmetics also has a mail-in recycling program (www.maccosmetics.com).

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Egg cartons

Paper and Styrofoam egg cartons are not recyclable. Clear, molded plastic egg cartons (“clamshells”) are recyclable with bottles and cans. Egg cartons are too good to waste: compost ripped-up paper cartons at home or through municipal organic waste collection programs ; donate cartons to backyard chicken farmers, or search online for creative tips using “recycling or reusing egg cartons”.

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Electronics

This category includes computers/monitors/peripherals, television sets, answering machines, cellphones, copy machines, cathode ray tubes, DVD players, fax machines, pagers, printers, satellite dishes, scanners, telephones, VCRs, video game systems)

Throwing away cathrode ray tubes (CRTs) (computer monitors and televisions) in the trash is prohibited by state regulations. Access to local CRT collection programs is widespread.  Visit the local information page and click on your town. or go to www.digitaltips.org for more information.  In addition to municipal collection programs for electronics:

  • Best Buy and Staples will recycle any eligible item at no charge. Visit www.BestBuy.com or www.Staples.com and search under “recycling”. Newer technology devices can be sold through www.gazelle.com.
  • Computer manufacturers offer a variety of electronic recycling programs, including (but not limited to) Apple, Dell, Gateway, Hewlett-Packard, Panasonic, Sony and Toshiba. Go to their websites for more information.
  • United States Postal Service (USPS) customers can get free mail-back envelopes for recycling inkjet cartridges, cell phones, PDAs, digital cameras and other small electronics.
  • Computers and other electronics in working condition can be donated to www.cristina.org to benefit students at risk and people who are economically disadvantaged or disabled.

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Electronic media

You can sell new or used CDs through www.murfie.com and many other websites. Some communities accept DVD’s, CD’s and games through their book donation programs. GreenDisk offers a mail-in option for spare computer cords, cables, boards, chips, and computer peripherals, as well as all kinds of electronic media and their cases (diskettes, zip disks, CDs, CD-Rs, CD-RWs, DVDs, video tapes, audio tapes, game cartridges, DAT, DLT, Beta or Digibeta, and computer tapes).
For more information, go to www.greendisk.com.

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Eyeglasses

To donate your eyeglasses for reuse, look for a “Lions In Sight” collection box wherever eyeglasses are sold or mail to: Lions In Sight, 1404 Lemon Street, Vallejo, CA 94590. New Eyes for the Needy accepts metal frames in any condition, unbroken plastic framed glasses, and non-prescription sunglasses; mail to: 549 Millburn Avenue, Box 332, Short Hills, NJ 07078. Otherwise, eyeglasses are not recyclable and should be thrown away.

Fire extinguishers

Do NOT place fire extinguishers in your community’s recycling or scrap metal bin. Fire extinguishers are considered hazardous because their contents are under pressure. Units manufactured prior to 1984 may contain dangerous chemicals. Disposal options include:

  • Businesses and property managers can contact their fire control service provider.
  • Residents can call their fire department or visit the local information page and click on your town. to find out if fire extinguishers are accepted at local household hazardous waste collections or recycling centers.
  • Massachusetts Fire Technologies accepts all types of fire extinguishers for a fee (57 York Street, West Springfield; 413-731-8000, www.massfire.com). Call for more information.

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Flags

For the proper disposal of U.S. flags no longer in usable condition, contact the American Legion or
the Veterans of Foreign Wars.

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Fluorescent bulbs (see “Mercury & mercury-containing products”)

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Furniture

Visit the local information page and click on your town. for local disposal options. Furniture in good condition can be sold or donated for reuse. Getting rid of mattresses and box springs can be difficult, as most charities and many communities don’t handle them. When you purchase a new mattress, ask the retailer to take back the old one.

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Golf balls

If you have at least 15,000 of them, you can sell them at www.golfballplanet.com!

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Greeting cards

Cards are recyclable with paper if they don’t have any foil or metallics. Remove electronics from singing greeting cards and recycle the button battery (see “Batteries”). St. Jude’s Ranch for Children reuses and recycles cards for all occasions (www.stjudesranch.org/shop/recycled-card-program).

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Hazardous household waste

Read the product label to determine if the product is considered hazardous, requiring special handling. Look for warnings and words like caustic, toxic, corrosive, poison, flammable, danger, and “keep out of reach of children.” First, consider using up the product according to package directions, or giving it away to someone who will. For unwanted products requiring special disposal, visit the local information page and click on your town. For safe alternatives to hazardous household products,  www.lesstoxicguide.ca or www.ecocycle.org/hazwaste/ecofriendly-cleaning are websites that offer solutions.

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Hearing aids

Hear Now (www.starkeyhearingfoundation.org) collects all makes and models of hearing aids/devices, and provides them to people who can’t afford to buy them. Mail your tax-deductible donation to Hear Now, 6700 Washington Avenue South, Eden Prairie, MN 55344. If the device is not worth salvaging, remove and recycle the button battery (see “Batteries”), then throw away the hearing aid as trash.

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Ink, printer & toner cartridges

Many local schools and non-profit organizations collect cartridges for fundraising purposes. To donate them to charitable organizations through mail-in programs, search online using “cartridge donations”. Cartridges are also accepted for recycling at Staples and at local stores such as Ink & Toner Solutions in Northampton and Amherst (www.inksolutionsma.com).

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Junk mail & catalogs

Unwanted mail and catalogs are recyclable, but it makes more sense to reduce them at the source:

  • DirectMail.com – a free service that gets your name off commercial mailing lists
  •  Catalog Choice – a free service that puts a stop to the delivery of unwanted catalogs
  • OptOutPrescreen.com – a free service that ends pre-approved credit card and insurance offers
  • YellowPagesGoesGreen – a free service that takes your name off phonebook mailing lists
  • EcoLogical Mail Coalition – a paid service that helps businesses eliminate mail addressed to former employees.

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Keys

Old keys can be recycled to benefit the M.S. Society’s research efforts (www.keysforkindness.com).

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Light bulbs

Incandescent light bulbs are not recyclable and should be thrown away. Halogen bulbs, fluorescent bulbs and compact fluorescent bulbs (“CFLs”) require special disposal (see “Mercury & mercury-containing products”).

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Light strings

Holiday light sets are not recyclable locally. Send your light strings to Holiday LEDS (www.holidayleds.com) for recycling, and they’ll send you a coupon good for 25% off any purchase. Mail to Recycling Program, 118 Rosehill Drive Suite 1, Jackson, MI 49202.

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Mattresses & box springs (See “Furniture”)

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Medications & Pharmaceuticals

Unwanted medication disposal must be done carefully for many reasons. Flushing drugs down the drain is not a safe disposal method; wastewater treatment plants and septic systems are not designed to remove pharmaceuticals before water is released into the environment. Unless it is done under highly controlled conditions, burning unwanted medications discharged dioxins and other air pollutants.

Visit www.deadiversion.usdoj.gov/drug_disposal/takeback/ to determine if a collection program is scheduled near you. If there are no collections schedule visit the local information page and click on your town for information on proper disposal of your unwanted medications.

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Mercury & mercury-containing products

Mercury is highly toxic and requires special disposal. It is not hazardous when contained in a sealed device. Exposure may be reduced by placing items in sealed plastic bags and handling them carefully to avoid breakage. Do not place mercury or items containing it in the trash or down a drain, and do not vacuum even the smallest spill. Instructions for handling mercury exposure can be found at www.mass.gov/dep/toxics/stypes/hgres.htm or search the internet for “broken CFL” or “mercury spill”.

Visit the local information page and click on your town. to find out if mercury-related products are accepted at your recycling/transfer station or household hazardous waste collection; alternate disposal options are listed below.

  • Fluorescent light bulbs
    All fluorescent light bulbs contain mercury gas (even the ones with green tips). Many municipalities accept fluorescent bulbs from residents and businesses for free or a small charge. The Center for EcoTechnology offers free disposal guidance to Massachusetts businesses and residents. Call 888-254-5525 or email info@recyclingworksma.com for more information. Additional recycling options vary based on the type of bulb:
    Compact fluorescent lamps (CFLs) fit in standard screw-type light sockets and are made of a narrow coiled glass tube. They come in a variety of shapes and styles, and can be encased by an outer glass bulb. Free CFL recycling is offered at Aubuchon Hardware stores, Home Depot, Lowes, the Solar Store (Greenfield), Whole Foods, IKEA and Ace Hardware.
    Larger fluorescent tubes
    do not fit in standard screw-type sockets. These include long straight, circular or U-shaped tubes, tanning bed lamps, High Intensity Discharge (HIDs), and neon light tubing. Commercial organizations generating large numbers of bulbs may contract directly with a lamp recycler; licensed mercury recyclers can be found at www.mass.gov/dep/toxics/ stypes/flampbiz.
  • Thermometers
    Many older household thermometers (fever, candy, meat, deep fry, oven, ambient temperature) have liquid mercury-based indicators. A mercury thermometer can be easily identified by the presence of a silver bulb at the end of a glass tube. If the bulb is red, blue, purple, green or any other color, it is not a mercury thermometer. Most municipalities collect mercury thermometers for proper disposal; visit the local information page and click on your town for details.
  • Thermostats
    Thermostats with digital displays typically do not contain mercury switches. Mercury switches are found in older wall-mounted thermostats. Although these switches are fairly sturdy, they should be carefully handled to avoid breakage. In addition to municipal collection programs, mercury-type thermostats are accepted at no charge at many plumbing retail stores (search Yellow Pages under “Plumbing Supplies). For more information, go to www.thermostat-recycle.org.
  • Ballasts
    Most fluorescent light fixtures produced before July 1979 contained ballasts with small amounts of PCBs (polychlorinated biphenyls), a highly toxic substance. PCB-free ballasts are marked “non-PCB.” PCB ballasts are typically collected at the same sites as larger fluorescent tube-type bulbs. Visit the local information page and click on your town for more information.

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Microwaves (see “Scrap Metal”)

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Moth balls (see “Household hazardous waste”)

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Motor oil & filters (see “Automotive products”)

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Musical instruments

Hungry for music (www.hungryformusic.com) distributes quality musical instruments and sheet music to underserved children in the US and overseas.

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Needles & sharps

According to Massachusetts Sanitary Code, hypodermic needles, syringes, lances, and all other “sharps” cannot be placed loose in your trash or recycling bin. Local collection programs may be available: call your Health Department or visit the local information page and click on your town Several mail-in disposal programs are available; search the internet using “sharps disposal”.

As of July 1, 2012 you must place sharps in a rigid plastic container.  Call your local Board of Health for more information. Search online for “sharps mail-in programs”  for disposal options.

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Packaging materials (see “Plastics”)

On-line purchasing has increased the amount of packaging in the waste stream considerably. Most of these materials are reusable; some are also recyclable:

  • Cardboard boxes can be reused, and flattened boxes can be recycled with mixed paper.
  • Foam peanuts: (see “Plastics”)
  • Cornstarch pellets may be composted in a backyard bin or reused. However, these will not be accepted by commercial composting facilities or packing shipping stores. If you can’t reuse them, throw them away in your regular trash or dissolve them with warm water and flush the resulting starch solution down the drain.
  • Styrofoam blocks and shapes: see “Plastics
  • Packing paper is reusable as well as recyclable. Place shredded paper in a paper bag and tightly close it before putting it in your recycling bin.
  • Plastic sealed air packaging is reusable. Once deflated, it can also be recycled with shopping bags (see “Plastics” for collection sites).
  • Miscellaneous packaging like foil lined coffee bags and animal feed bags (dog, cat, chicken, horse, fish) can be made into new products by mailing them to 11 South Park, Montrose, Colorado 81401. Visit trashebags.com for more information.

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Paint & paint-related products

If your unwanted paint was purchased recently and is in good condition, consider donating it for use instead of throwing it away. Many school/community theatre groups and charitable organizations (such as Habitat for Humanity) will accept quality paint products. You may also offer it for reuse through www.FreeCycle.org. Petroleum (oil-based) paints, stains, thinners, and varnishes are considered hazardous materials, requiring proper disposal (see “Hazardous Household Waste”). Latex paint and water-based stains are not accepted at local hazardous waste collections, but can be thrown away when completely hardened. Speed up the process by adding paint hardener (available in hardware stores) or by stirring in clean kitty litter to the consistency of thick oatmeal and allowing the mix to harden for 3-5 days. When there are no free-flowing liquids, you may place the open paint can (without the lid) in your household trash.

Pallets (see wood under “Building & Remodeling Materials”)

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Pellet fuel bags

Check out kenspelletbagrecycling.weebly.com to locate free drop-off locations for clean & dry pellet fuel bags in western Massachusetts.

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Pizza boxes

Only clean portions of pizza boxes (completely free of grease and food) can be recycled with your paper and cardboard.

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Plastics

Plastic recycling is demand-based. Only plastic resins that can be recycled cost-effectively into new products can be  collected. Fortunately, technological advances and new markets have recently expanded plastic recycling guidelines for western MA:

  • Clear, hinged “clamshell” containers typically used to package produce, deli and bakery items can be included with your bottles and cans. Do not include clamshell containers made of material you cannot see through (Styrofoam or colored plastics like black trays) or any container labeled “compostable” in your recycling bin.
  • Caps and lids from bottles, jars, jugs and tubs may be included in your container recycling bin, but they should remain attached to containers. To be a recycling super-hero, flatten your plastic before replacing caps and lids to keep the container compacted.
  • Stretchy bags and clear plastic film that is clean and dry is accepted at most supermarket and grocery stores, dry cleaners, and large retail stores (Wal-Mart, Staples). Do not put them in your recycling bin; they create litter and clog machinery at the processing facility. Do not include soiled/oily/wet/painted plastic film products, anything labeled “compostable”, pre-packaged produce bags (pre-washed lettuce, frozen peas), or bags from heavy items such as soil, mulch, salt or pellet fuel.
    Please recycle only empty, clean, dry plastic bags and film products, and remove receipts/other items from shopping bags.

    • newspaper bags
    • dry cleaning bags
    • bread bags
    • produce bags
    • toilet paper, napkin and paper towel wraps
    • furniture wrap
    • electronic wrap
    • plastic retail bags (hard plastic and string handles removed)
    • grocery bags
    • plastic food storage bags (clean and dry Ziploc® bags)
    • plastic cereal box liners (if it tears like paper do not include)
    • Tyvek (no glue, labels or other material)
    • diaper wrap (packaging)
    • plastic shipping envelopes (no bubble wrap, remove labels)
    • case wrap (snacks, water bottles)
    • any clean, dry plastic film labeled #2 or #4
  • Rigid, bulky plastics are large, durable, molded items. Please do not place them in your recycling bin. These plastics include (but are not limited to) plant pots and trays, laundry baskets, outdoor furniture, playground equipment (Little Tykes®), trash cans and car seats. The City of Northampton has an ongoing rigid plastic collection program, and hosts regional collection events on a regular basis; call 413-587-1059 for details.
  • Expanded polystyrene foam (commonly referred to as Styrofoam) is not highly sought after, but recycling options are emerging. ReFoamIt collects Styrofoam and other previously non-recyclable plastics (e.g., plastic utensils) at one-day collection events in western MA (visit www.refoamit.com for more information). Mail back programs are another option (see www.epspackaging.org or www.polyfoam.com).
  • Styrofoam peanuts are not easily recycled, but can be reused. Clean and dry pellets are accepted by retail shipping outlets like the “The Package Store” in Southampton and UPS stores. Check www.loosefillpackaging.com for local drop-off options. Styrofoam peanuts can also be recycled by mailing them to Polyfoam Corporation, 2355 Providence Road, Box 906, Northbridge, MA 01534. You can also give them away to local individuals and small businesses through FreeCycle (www.freecycle.com).
  • Plastic cards (old courtesy cards, credit cards, gift cards, etc.) can be recycled by mailing them to Earthworks c/o Halprin Industries, 25840 Miles Road, Bedford, OH 44146. You can sell or trade unused gift cards on websites like swapagift.com, GiftCardRescue.com, PlasticJungle.com, MonsterGiftCard.com or Cardpool.com. Or consider “re-gifting” them if they have not expired (gift cards are valid for five years after purchase).
  • #5 plastic products are mostly recyclable: #5 food and beverage containers can be recycled with your bottles and cans, but products such as toothbrushes and razors cannot. The “Preserve Gimme 5” (www.mygimme5.com) program recycles a variety of Preserve® brand products and Brita® brand water filters. Whole Foods in Hadley is a local collection site for this program.
  • Plant pots and trays are not recyclable with bottles and cans. Lowe’s garden centers accept rigid plastic plant pots and trays at no cost. Northampton sponsors regional collections for rigid plastic items including plant pots and trays; call 413-587-1059 for more information. Thin (flimsy) black plastic trays are not recyclable in either of these programs. Garden Clubs, garden centers and florist shops may also accept clean plastic planting containers for reuse.

Non-recyclable plastics
Plastic containers greater than 2.5 gallons are not accepted by the Springfield Materials Recycling Facility. Other plastics that are not currently recyclable include (but are not limited to): plastic cups, black plastic items (microwavable containers, food trays, etc.), containers made from plant materials that say “biodegradable” or “compostable”, foam packaging (egg cartons, take-out containers, food trays, packaging peanuts, coffee cups, etc.), “blister” packaging (the type that is difficult to open!), manufactured wood substitutes (decking materials), plastic binders, plastic coated paper, compact disks, video and audio tapes, plastic nursery pots/trays and plastic utensils.

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Pressure-treated lumber (see “Building & Remodeling Materials”)

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Propane tanks

Propane tanks can be refilled at many locations throughout the Pioneer Valley; these businesses will take back tanks that meet certain specifications. Call your community’s representative* to find out if propane tanks or other types of pressurized containers (oxygen/acetylene/helium tanks) are accepted at your recycling/transfer station. For a fee, Whiting Oil Corporation (300A King Street, Northampton) accepts propane tanks- call 413-584-3500 prior to delivery. Rindge Energy in New Hampshire will accept larger quantities (20 or more 20# propane tanks) for free; call for pricing of other tank types/sizes and free pickup services at 603-899-9959.

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Scrap metal

Many metal items (like bicycles or BBQ grills) can be repaired, sold or donated to extend their useful life. Discarding scrap metal (aluminum, steel, iron, lead, stainless steel, copper, brass, bronze) as trash is banned by State regulations. To recycle any metal item, it should be at least 50% metal by weight and separated from any contaminating materials as much as possible. Some scrap metal items contain toxic or pressurized materials that require special handling, including batteries, propane tanks and ballasts. Visit the local information page and click on your town to find out if scrap metal is accepted at your recycling/transfer station. Other guidelines include:

  •  Remove all doors from refrigerators & freezers prior to recycling;
  •  Chain link and wire fencing should be rolled into compact segments;
  •  Empty all fluids (gasoline, oil) and remove batteries from power equipment;
  •  Paint cans must be completely empty and dry; and
  • Automotive parts (including engine blocks) require special handling; check the Yellow Pages under “Auto Wreckers and Salvage”.

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Seeds

Find advice and opportunities for seed trading at www.wintersown.org.

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Shoes

Charitable organizations such as Goodwill (www.goodwill.org) and the Salvation Army (www.use.salvationarmy.org) collect clean used shoes in any condition at their drop-off boxes and retail stores. Shoes in good condition can also be donated to Soles4souls (www.soles4souls.org) for distribution to poverty-stricken people around the world; mail to Soles4Souls, Inc., 319 Martingale Drive, Old Hickory, TN 37138. Athletic Shoes in good condition can be mailed to One World Running (www.oneworldrunning.com) to be distributed to athletes in need in Africa, Latin America and Haiti; mail to Boulder Storage, 6439 Arapahoe Rd. Boulder, Colo. 80303. Worn-out sneakers can be sent to Nike’s Reuse-a-Shoe program (www.nikereuseashoe.com) to be turned into playground and sports surfaces; mail to Nike Grind Processing, 3552 Avenue of Commerce, Memphis, TN 38125). Crocs can be recycled by mailing them to Crocs Recycling West, 3375 Enterprise Ave., Bloomington CA 92316.

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Smoke detectors

The most common type of smoke detector is an ionization device that contains a small amount of Americium 241, a radioactive material. Some retailers will take back all brands of smoke alarms/detectors that they sell; contact the store you purchased your smoke detector from for more information. Most brands of smoke alarms/detectors can be returned by mail to their original manufacturers. Search the internet using the manufacturer’s name and “smoke detector recycling” for more information. Label the box “For Disposal” before mailing by surface mail or UPS Ground (so they don’t end up in an airplane). Some manufacturers have fees or special requirements if the device is no longer under warranty. Smoke detectors from any manufacturer can be recycled through www.curieservices.com. Some communities allow smoke detectors to be thrown away in the bulky waste box at a recycling/transfer station. visit the local information page and click on your town for more information.

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Sports equipment

Buy or sell quality sports equipment through Play It Again Sports (for locations and other information, visit www.playitagainsports.com).

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Styrofoam (see “Plastics”)

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Televisions (see “Electronics”)

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Tennis balls

Give used tennis balls to your favorite elementary school teacher (the demand is great…each kid needs eight)! When attached to classroom chairs and desks, tennis balls reduce noise as well as wear and tear on the floor. You can also donate tennis balls that have seen better days to a local animal shelter. To recycle larger quantities of old tennis balls, go to www.rebounces.com.

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Textiles (see “Clothing & textiles”)

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Thermometers & thermostats (“Mercury & mercury-containing products”)

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Tyvek envelopes

Tyvek envelopes (large, white envelopes that you can’t rip) cannot be recycled with paper. Tyvek products can be recycled with plastic shopping bags (must be free of glue, labels or other materials). Another option is to recycle them by mail. Turn a Tyvek envelope inside out (so that the unprinted white surface shows on the outside), address it to Tyvek® Recycle, 8401 Fort Darling Road, Richmond, VA 23237 and stuff it full of used Tyvek envelopes before mailing it off. For larger quantities, call 866-33-TYVEK and ask about their “pouch recycling program.”

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Vegetable oil (see “Cooking oil”)

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Vehicles

Check the Yellow Pages under “Auto Wreckers and Salvage” or consider donating your vehicle to a charitable organization. Contact your favorite charity or search online for “car donation”, “vehicle donation”, “boat donation”, “motorcycle donation” or “recreational vehicle donation”.

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Wood (see “Building & remodeling materials”)

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X-Ray film

There are no special disposal requirements.  Radiology departments at hospitals will recycle them at no cost.  For larger quantities (greater than 100#) t www.xrayfilmsrecycling.com/pick-up-rates/massachusetts.htm is a website with information.

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Yard waste, leaves, brush, Christmas trees

Throwing away leaf and yard waste as trash is prohibited by State regulations. Consider composting your organic materials in a backyard compost bin or visit the local information page and click on your town to find out if yard & leaf waste is accepted at your recycling/transfer station.

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Yoga mats

That old mat can still go with the flow. Go to www.recycleyourmat.com for more information.

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The information provided on this page is informational only. The MRF Advisory Board does not endorse any third party entities linked from this page nor is there any implied endorsement of third party programs and/or practices.