Blog Post

The Golden Rule When Recycling

I think we’d all agree that observing the Golden Rule, treating others the way you wish to be treated can make our lives more harmonious at home, work and school.  Unfortunately, sometimes it seems kindness and consideration are in short supply. Maybe it’s time to get back to basics. 

If you think about it, the Golden Rule can be applied to nearly every aspect of our lives, even recycling. Consider for a moment, the people who pick up after all of us. When our trash and recycling disappear each week, the collected items become someone else’s issue. And the drivers in our neighborhoods and sorters in our recycling facilities deal with material “up close and personally.”

Recently, we’ve noticed a substantial increase in the improper disposal of medical sharps or syringes. You should NEVER place medical sharps in a recycling container, however they may be placed in your trash if certain safety guidelines are followed:

1.) Place the sharps in a sturdy plastic or metal container like a laundry detergent bottle or a coffee can.

2.) Attach the lid and tape it securely to the container with duct tape.

3.) Label each side of the container with the word “SHARPS” using a permanent marker.

4.) Place the container in the trash can – NOT the recycling bin.

Homemade sharps container

Syringes are not the only point of danger for employees working at the recycling center. In 2012, Rumpke experienced a devastating fire at its Cincinnati recycling facility. Thankfully, no employees were injured, but the building and most of the equipment were destroyed.

To replace it, Rumpke constructed a $32 million, amazing state-of-the-art facility. We certainly don’t want history to repeat itself. The new building was built with fire suppression in mind.  And that’s a good thing, because smaller fires continue to occur, not only in collection trucks, but also at the recycling center, because of incorrect items in recycling bins.

Things like batteries of any kind, aerosol cans containing hazardous materials and pool chemicals should never be placed in your trash or recycling. There are better, safer and more environmentally friendly disposal options. I suggest contacting your local solid waste management district for proper disposal instructions.

Taking time to consider the most appropriate disposal for your items is important. By doing so, you are not only doing something good for the planet, but you’re also helping keep those who clean up after us a little safer. You’ll be doing the right thing and we’ll all be better for it. 

About the author: Anne Gray is the Educational Specialist for Rumpke Waste & Recycling.

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