How to Recycle Industrial Waste At Home
Industrial products are some of the most challenging items to discard by households. Partly because these things are made to be very durable, and partly because of their potentially hazardous composition.
Take into account their possible negative health implications -- which were made very evident during COVID-19 -- and you have a tedious list of things to remember before throwing out that household waste. And you want to do so in compliance with waste management regulations.
However, as a responsible consumer, you want to do your part in minimising your waste footprint. So when there's an opportunity to recycle, you do it.
Here's a quick guide on how you can safely and responsibly discard and recycle common household industrial waste.
How to dispose of common cleaning products
Regular cleaning and sanitation of frequently touched surfaces is now part of your daily household routine. And it's not just you -- more people are consuming cleaning and disinfection products as an after-effect of the pandemic. So, it's not hard to imagine that is a lot of used cleaning products and packaging on their way to the landfill.
Mind what goes into the trash (empty non-aerosol cans, plastic bottle containers, scouring pads, wipes etc) and down the drain (liquid, powders etc).
- Empty containers of cleaning chemicals, detergents and hand cleaners: Most of these are made of non-biodegradable plastic. Make sure they are empty before throwing them out.
- Hand wipes and towelettes: Keep in mind that not all wipes are "flushable". And unlike your typical dry paper towel, these contain chemicals that, while not harmful to human skin, could be bad for the environment.
- Water-soluble liquids and gels: Be careful not to mix products. Flush them with generous amounts of running water. Warning: Not all liquids are safe for flushing. Read the label for disposal directions.
Discard them in the appropriate bin. You'll know what's recyclable when you see the symbol in the packaging. Take those items to a recycling facility near you.
How to recycle aerosol cans
Recycling aerosol cans can be tricky. Before anything, check if the aerosol can is empty.
TIP: Empty cans don't make a sound.
If the cans are empty, they can be sent off to a recycling centre along with steel and aluminium cans.
If they are not, they will be considered hazardous waste and should be taken to a special waste treatment facility for safe disposal. Remember, do not crush or puncture the can, as it may explode and hurt you.
Remove the plastic cap and recycle it separately.
How to dispose of screws and other fasteners
Your first option would be to recycle nails, screws, nuts, bolts, washers and other scrap metals. Gather all your spare fasteners and keep them in a container. Segregate them per type, size etc using magnets. Such collection will come in handy when you need to repair items or replace parts, and you realize you misplaced yet another bolt. These little things are very easy to misplace.
If they are too rusty to be reused, you may need to just throw them away. But be careful not to put them in your household trash bin, as it will take years for these items to rust away in a landfill.
You can also sell them to a scrap metal yard. Prices are usually calculated by weight and type of metal.
How to discard garden hoses
Here's an interesting tip courtesy of itsallyou.org: Do not send garden hoses off for recycling. Because garden hoses, along with ropes, chains and cords, are what recycling facilities refer to as "tanglers". These items are known to tangle up equipment, which causes machine breakdowns and safety concerns for workers.
If you think your hose is on its way out, think of ways to repurpose them. Here are some good ideas from One Good Thing:
Turn it into a soaker hose by puncturing holes in it
Slide it over chains and handles for easier grip (as you would see in the image, courtesy of One Good Thing)
Splice a section of the hose and slit it down the sharp edge of blades and cutting tools to give you additional protection (from inflicting cuts)
How to dispose of leftover paints and paint cans
Paints contain chemicals such as solvents and metals that can contaminate groundwater and become health hazards. So whenever possible, you don't want your used and unwanted paints to end up in those places -- they are already some of the most common liquid waste found in landfills. About 5% of the 100 million litres of paint bought every year ends up as hazardous landfill waste.
Cleanaway.com and Paintback, a not-for-profit company, have made it their mission to make paint disposal and recycling easy. You can drop off your unused paint and packaging at any of their collection points nationwide.
They accept deck coatings/floor paint, interior/exterior paint, varnishes and urethanes, wood coatings, packaging and paint cans. Just ensure that all cans are sealed properly upon drop-off.
How to recycle adhesives packaging
Loctite glue may be one of the most common industrial household products out there, but the proper disposal method of its packaging may not be common knowledge.
Henkel, the global manufacturer of Loctite, has partnered with TerraCycle to offer a solution to recycle adhesive packaging.
Through the LOCTITE® Anaerobic Adhesive Recycling Program, you can purchase a postage-paid recycling box that you can fill with empty anaerobic Loctite adhesive containers. Then, you can send it to TerraCycle for processing. They will thermally treat the containers and turn them into new plastic products.
For more information, visit the Henkel website.
How to dispose of motor oil and oil filters
There are many restrictions when it comes to disposing of oil and oil filters due to environmental and safety concerns. Remember: Never dump oil in the garbage or flush it down the drain. It is considered hazardous waste and should be taken to a special waste treatment facility. The proper way is to store it in a safely sealed container before sending it off for recycling.
For oil filters, place them in a leak-proof zip lock bag. Label them as "waste oil" and take them to a recycling centre or a service station as soon as possible. If you are driving, be sure to store these in the boot.
Contaminated oil cannot be recycled and must be disposed properly.
How to dispose of blades, knives and cutting tools
Before throwing out dull knives and blades, check if you can still have them sharpened so they can be used again. If you decide to dispose of them or sell them as scrap metal, do so responsibly.
If you discard them in the trash bin, make sure they are not left sticking out. You don't want them to cause serious cuts to garbage handlers and sanitation workers.
To prevent this from happening, wrap the blade in multiple layers of covering. Start with a bubble wrap, then add a layer of cardboard, before finally placing it in a box. Seal the box with duct tape and properly mark it.
How to do proper battery recycling
Interestingly, different types of batteries call for different recycling methods.
Alkaline batteries (those on your power toys, remote controls and small devices) and rechargeable batteries (those on your smartphones, laptops and cameras etc) are 100% recyclable.
- Nickel and cadmium battery cells are hazardous, so make sure they don't end up in a landfill.
- Bring your used batteries to recycling booths at Aldi supermarkets, IKEA, Battery World or to a Planet Ark Recycling Near You.
Car batteries contain lead-acid and other harmful materials that can't be disposed of in the trash. Luckily for you, most auto parts retailers take them in for recycling.
How to recycle electric motors
You can find electric motors in appliances such as fans, pumps, blowers and power tools. These are 100% recyclable since most of their components are metallic. Ideally, motor components should be separated into different recyclable parts that go through different recycling methods.
If you can't do this on your own, just drop them off at a recycling centre or sell them as scraps to recyclers.
What about other materials not mentioned here?
We will update this article regularly to cover more disposal and recycling information about industrial materials that you might be using at home. For now, keep in mind that not all items can be recycled or easily disposed of.
If in doubt, read the label! There's usually sufficient information in there to guide you through responsible waste disposal or recycling of the material.
For an extensive list of materials, check out these websites: