August 9, 2020

Recycling in Old Lyme: Dealing With Left-Over Paint

paint_cansLymeLine.com is pleased to be publishing a series of articles written by Old Lyme’s Solid Waste & Recycling Committee that lay out best recycling practices.  To date, the committee’s articles have covered the town’s current curbside program, and the safe disposal of prescription and over-the counter medications in previous articles. This article covers paint recycling.

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency estimates that about 10 percent of all paint purchased in the United States is left-over – around 64 million gallons annually. This left-over and unused paint can cause pollution when disposed of improperly and, in the past, was costly for municipalities to manage. 

So, Connecticut enacted a paint stewardship law in 2011, which required that paint manufacturers assume the costs of managing unwanted latex and oil-based paints, including collection, recycling, and/or disposal of unwanted paint products. Connecticut was the third state in the country to pass paint legislation, following Oregon and California.

As a result of the paint stewardship law, a non-profit program was rolled out in 2012 by the American Coatings Association, which is a trade group of paint manufacturers. The program is funded by a fee paid by the consumer at the time of purchase.

“PaintCare” has resulted in a network of drop-off locations for that left-over paint (now 142 sites in the state.) Locations near Old Lyme include Sherwin Williams in Old Saybrook, True Value Hardware in East Lyme, and Rings End Lumber in Niantic. PaintCare now operates in the nine states that have enacted paint stewardship laws. There is no charge at the drop-off site. As noted, the program is wholly funded by fees assessed at the point of sale.

PaintCare drop-off sites accept latex and oil-based house paints, primers, stains, sealers, and clear coatings like shellac and varnish. All of these must be in the original container (no larger than five gallons) with the original printed label and a secured lid (i.e., no open or leaking containers.)  They do not accept aerosols, paint thinners, mineral spirits, and solvents.

You should review the PaintCare website (http://www.paintcare.org) before loading your trunk with your left-over paint.  The site has a complete list of accepted and non-accepted paint products and any drop-off limits.

What happens to the excess paint after drop-off?  PaintCare’s haulers move the paint from the drop-off sites to their facility for sorting. Their goal is to then recycle as much as possible according to a policy of “highest, best use”.

Most of the oil-based paint is taken to a plant where it is processed into a fuel and then burned to recover the energy value.

Clean latex paint (i.e., not rusty, dirty, molding or spoiled) is sent to recycling facilities and reprocessed into “new” paint; most latex paint that doesn’t contain mercury or foreign contaminants can be processed into recycled-content paint.

There are two types of recycled paint: re-blended and re-processed. Re-blended paint contains a much higher percentage of recycled paint than re-processed paint (which mixes old paint with new paint and other new materials).

Paint that is nearly new and in good condition is given to charitable organizations for re-sale. Habitat for Humanity’s ReStores also accept clean surplus paints.

According to the PaintCare 2014 Annual Report, 240,798 gallons of used paint were collected in the first year of the program; 81 percent of the latex paint was recycled into recycled-content paint, 4 percent ended as a landfill cover product, 6 percent was fuel-blended, and 9 percent was unrecyclable and sent to landfill as solids. All of the oil-based paint was used for fuel.

Our next article covers the recycling of mattresses.

If you have questions or comments related to this article or recycling in general, contact Leslie O’Connor at alete1@sbcglobal.net or Tom Gotowka at TDGotowka@aol.com.

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Recycling in Old Lyme: How to Dispose of Medications

disposaldrugsOld Lyme’s Solid Waste & Recycling Committee is exploring ways to improve recycling in Old Lyme. We are publishing several articles that lay out best practices.

Our first article reviewed Old Lyme’s current curbside program. This article covers the safe disposal of prescription and over-the counter medications. Note that we sometimes refer to “DEEP” (The Connecticut Department of Energy and Environmental Protection)as a source of information.

First, never flush your unwanted medications down the sink or toilet; they pass through septic systems and sewage treatment plants essentially unprocessed. Flushed medications can get into our lakes, rivers and streams. Of real concern, a nationwide study done in 1999 and 2000 by the United States Geological Survey (USGS) found low levels of antibiotics, hormones, contraceptives and steroids in 80 percent of the rivers and streams tested; further, research has shown that such continuous exposure to low levels of medications has altered the behavior and physiology of fish and other aquatic organisms.

Old Lyme residents have several options for safely disposing of medications but in all of these, keep the medications in their original container, but take care to protect your private information by either removing the label from the container or concealing it with a permanent marker.  The options are:

  • Occasional drug collection events sponsored by the Town or community organization.
  • Locally, watch for the Annual Drug Take Back Day sponsored by Lyme’s Youth Services Bureau.
  • Some police stations have a drop box drug disposal program where residents can anonymously discard unwanted or unused medications. Both the Clinton and Waterford Police Departments participate in the drop box program. A complete list of locations can be found at this link.
  • Some chain pharmacies (e.g., CVS, Walgreens, Rite Aid) have disposal envelopes for prescription and over the counter drugs available for purchase; check with your pharmacy for details.
  • If the above doesn’t work for you, Connecticut’s Department of Consumer Protection suggests that you dispose of drugs in your household trash (where it will ultimately be incinerated) as follows: add hot water to dissolve the contents, or cover the contents with some noxious or undesirable substance; re-cover and place it all inside another larger container to ensure that the contents cannot be seen, and tape it shut.
  • unwanted pet medications should also be disposed as described above.
  • disposal of sharps: residents who are required to use injectable medications (e.g., insulin) can safely dispose of used needles and lancets by placing them in a puncture-proof, hard plastic container with a screw-on cap (like a bleach or detergent bottle). Tightly seal the container with the original lid and wrap with duct tape. Discard in a bag in your trash. Do not mix sharps with prescription drugs.
  • Some medications (e.g., chemotherapy drugs) require special handling; DEEP’s website provides more detail on disposing of such drugs and other medical supplies at this link.

This article covers methods for safe disposal of prescription and over-the-counter medications.  Our next article will cover the recycling of paint.

 Old Lyme’s Solid Waste & Recycling Committee meets monthly. If you have questions or comments, contact: Leslie O’Connor or TDGotowka@aol.com.

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Old Lyme Seeks to Increase the Town’s Rate of Recycling

recycle_logoCurbside recycling by Old Lyme residents has become very routine.  However, there is some evidence that many recyclables end up in the blue trash bin rather than the green recycling bin. So, to reduce those missed opportunities, the Town has appointed a Solid Waste and Recycling Committee, which will investigate and identify ways to improve recycling in Old Lyme.

We plan to publish – with LymeLine.com‘s assistance – several informational articles that lay out best practices. This first piece provides an overview of our current curbside program.

Why we recycle

First, it’s the law! Connecticut implemented a mandatory recycling law in 1991; the law applies to all Old Lyme residents, every business in town. and all public and private agencies and institutions (e.g., schools); and applies, regardless of whether you rent or own, or whether you live in single or multi-family residences.

Second, and perhaps more importantly, it just makes good sense. A typical household produces nearly five pounds of solid waste each and every day. Only about a pound of that gets recycled. So, that’s about ¾ ton of trash per household per year that ends up burned or buried. Connecticut must dispose of almost 2.5 million tons of trash every year.

Clearly, the more that we recycle, the less that trash and garbage ends up in our landfills and incineration plants. Recycling enables recovery and re-use of potentially valuable materials – turning what would otherwise be treated as waste into valuable resources.

Single Stream Recycling

OL_green_binIn 2011, Old Lyme implemented single stream recycling to streamline recycling for residents and, since then, all recyclables can be placed, unsorted, in the green recycling bin. Many of you probably remember the old 14-gallon blue recycling boxes which required separation of glass, paper, metal, & cardboard. Residents can now recycle more at each pickup.

What should we recycle?

We must recycle: all paper, cardboard; paperboard (e.g., cereal boxes & egg cartons); glass; aluminum food cans and foil; juice and milk cartons; non-deposit plastic soda bottles and cans; detergent bottles; empty aerosol cans; and all plastic labeled #1 to #7. There are more details at: http://oldlymesanitation.com/.

What should not be placed in your green bin?

Do not put any trash; plastic grocery bags; needles or syringes; Styrofoam; shipping peanuts; or food waste in your green bin. Never throw grass clippings or yard waste in the trash.

Recycling rules

  1. Flatten your cardboard before placing it in the bin.
  2. All recycled containers (cans, bottles, jars, etc.) must be empty and rinsed clean (You do not need to remove the labels).
  3. You should redeem your deposit bottles and cans at your supermarket rather than placing them in the bin.
  4. Recyclables should be placed dry and loose directly in the green bin (do not put them in plastic bags).
  5. Greasy pizza boxes are not recyclable.
  6. The plastic container code (the number inside the chasing arrows symbol) identifies recyclable plastics #1 to #7.

What do I do with all these plastic super market bags? – Just say “paper”?

Plastic bags should never be put in your green recycling bin because they can jam equipment at the facilities that prepare recyclables to be marketed.  Many Connecticut supermarkets have collection receptacles for plastic bags at the store and they will then be recycled. Really, the simplest solution is to just bring reusable bags with you when you go shopping. Most of us have a back seat full of those reusable bags.

How successful have our recycling programs been?
earth_surrounded_by_recycling_logoConnecticut has a goal of reducing, reusing and recycling 58 percent of our municipal solid waste by the year 2024.  The State’s goal incorporates everything included in Old Lyme’s recycling program. Our current rate is in the range of 25 – 32 percent. The State of Connecticut rate is currently below 30 percent.

This article outlines Old Lyme’s current recycling program. Subsequent articles will cover areas that fall outside the curbside program (e.g., bulky items like mattresses and furniture; appliances and electronics; unused prescriptions; and paint and hazardous waste). We’ll discuss the economic costs and benefits of recycling, and review what currently happens to your trash and recycling after it leaves your bin; and provide suggestions for better recycling practice, which will bring Old Lyme closer to Connecticut’s goal.

Old Lyme’s Solid Waste & Recycling Committee meets monthly. If you have questions or comments, contact: alete1@sbcglobal.net or TDGotowka@aol.com. The recycling section of the Town’s website is also a good source of information.

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