Tuesday, March 27, 2012

NYC's Waste Prevention, Reuse & Recycling: Anyone Listening?

I received a mailing yesterday from the New York City Department of Sanitation's Bureau of Waste Prevention, Reuse and Recycling (BWPRR). It announced five NYC SAFE (Solvents, Automotive, Flammables, Electronics) Disposal Events for Spring 2012 and really made me think about the NYC CRAP (not an acronym; me just wanting to better express how I feel) that we regularly dump into our landfills.

According to the brochure, which included a partial list of items that will be accepted at the five disposal events:

"Commonly used household products can be harmful to you, your family, your pets, city workers, and the environment if improperly stored, used, or discarded. The NYC Department of Sanitation is holding five SAFE Disposal Events this spring (one in each borough) to provide NYC residents with a one-stop method to get rid of potentially harmful household products."
To find out how harmful, I checked out the BWPRR's website, which offered detailed descriptions of dangers, rather than the simple pictograms in the printed brochure. To think that the chemicals present in automotive products (antifreeze, auto batteries, motor oil), household cleaners (bleach, oven cleaner), personal care products (medications, mothballs), housewares (fuel, pesticides/herbicides/insecticides, pool chemicals) and electronics (cell phones, computers, televisions) don't end up in our drinking water, air and soil would be woefully naïve.

Most New York City residents won't bother to read the brochure (let alone recycle it), so it's safe to assume that at least 95 percent of the above used here will wind up in landfills instead of being disposed of properly.

Some specific dangers, as I make sure my water filtration system is functioning properly:
  • ANTIFREEZE: Most commercially available antifreeze contains ethylene glycol, a potentially toxic chemical that is poisonous and can be lethal if ingested. Keep antifreeze away from children and pets who may find the bright green color and sweet smell appealing and drink it.
  • PEST CONTROL: Many chemicals used to kill pests – insects and rodents – can also be harmful to people. According to the National Safety Council, 75 percent of homes in the United States use at least one pesticide product indoors every year.
  • CLEANING PRODUCTS: Many household cleaning products contain strong chemicals that can be dangerous if you inhale them, get them on your skin, or combine them with other cleaners.
  • ELECTRONICS: When electronic devices break or become outdated, our first instinct is to throw them away and buy bigger and better new ones. However computers, monitors, and printers have components that contain hazardous materials, such as lead, mercury, and cadmium. Though safe to use, electronic equipment can pose dangers to the environment when not properly discarded.

2 comments:

David Rooney said...

Thanks for sharing. I think it is important that people do this kind of research and find out how to manage their waste properly, recycling what they can.

edsmith945 said...

Thank you for sharing. Did you know glycol recycling can reduce operating costs in a wide variety of applications?