Cell phones are a solid waste management challenge that is significantly growing in scope. There are two primary reasons for this.
First, they contain a large number of hazardous substances. These include heavy metals such as cadmium, hexavalent chromium, lead - it is estimated that between 100,000 - 15,000 tons of lead are used annually worldwide in the production of electronics - and arsenic. The plastic housing of most cell phones contain flame retardants that are classified as chlorinated, halogenated or brominated. These retardants, if incinerated in the presence of copper, which is widely used in cell phones, form dioxins and furans, both highly toxic.
Second, the number of cell phones in use is exploding. In the ten years between 1990-2000, the number of subscribers in this country grew from 5.3 to 109.5 million. Like computers, cell phone technology changes rapidly and phones quickly become obsolete. Marketing schemes encourage users to replace still functioning phones with newer models. It is estimated that by 2005, this country will discard 65,000 tons of cell phones and accessories annually.
Fortunately, there are some national programs that accept cellular phones for either refurbishing and reuse, or recycling. In many instances, since all cell phones are required by federal law to be capable of dialing 9-1-1 for emergencies, they are often donated to agencies such as domestic abuse shelters.
There are two locations in Eau Claire that accept cell phones including those made or sold by other companies:
1) CellularOne, 4620 Golf Road, 831-1900
2) Sprint PCS, 3545 Gateway Drive, 552-8326
You may also want to check with the store you purchased your cell phone from or the manufacturer for recycling options
What should I do with my old couch, recliner, mattress, carpeting, windows, construction /demolition materials, etc.?
Large and bulky items that won't fit in your normal trash should be taken to a transfer station or you can have a garbage hauler pick it up. Please use as a rule of thumb, no liquids are allowed in the garbage. Please refer to the Solid Waste Haulers/Recyclers list for the transfer station or hauler nearest to you. If you have a pickup or trailer, do your own hauling and you may save a substantial amount of money.
What about Eyeglasses?
An "eye-opening" opportunity exists for doing something positive with your old glasses. Lions Clubs collect eyeglasses for distribution in developing countries. Check with your local Lions Club for collection points.
Can I recycle my aerosol cans?
Empty steel aerosol cans are OK to recycle. In fact, they're a great source of steel! Cans should be empty of any contents (remove any plastic caps and place with the trash).
If a new can cannot be recycled due to a nozzle malfunction, return the can to the original point of purchase or save them for a Clean Sweep Hazardous Waste Program.
What about asbestos?
Contact the Solid Waste/Recycling Dept. at (715) 273-3092 for the names and numbers of Asbestos Removal/Testing Services.
What about sharps....needles, syringes, & lancets?
Sharps are extremely dangerous to MRF employees and are not recyclable! The Public Health Dept. (715-273-6755) operates a program that distributes Sharps containers to the public at no cost. Filled containers should be returned to the Public Health Dept. or River Falls Area Hospital for free proper disposal.
Can I recycle styrofoam?
Clean packaging peanuts and styrofoam sheets are accepted by:
Pack & Mail
2312-D Crestview Drive, Hudson, WI
Latex Paint Disposal
Latex Paint: The Pierce County Recycling Center will accept latex paint ONLY for a fee of $1.00 per container.
If it is already dried up and doesn't contain lead, mercury or other toxic substances, toss it in the garbage. Latex paints can be dried out and tossed in the garbage. (Empty paint cans, can be recycled with tin cans.) Save liquid paint for the Clean Sweep Hazardous Waste Collection.
Suggestion: Purchase paint according to the quantity needed for a project. See if a friend, relative, neighbor, art class or theater group can use the unused portion.
Latex Paint Drying TechniquesFor small amounts: Remove the lid and let the paint dry in the can. Stir the paint occasionally to speed drying. Or, brush paint in layers on newspaper or cardboard.
For lager amounts: Pour one-inch layers of paint into a cardboard box lined with plastic. Allow the paint to dry one layer at a time – thin layers will speed up the drying process. Or, mix paint with cat litter, sawdust or sand in a cardboard box lined with plastic and let it dry, or purchase, a commercial paint hardener.
For latex paint that has separated: Pour the clear liquid on top into a cardboard box lined with plastic. Mix the liquid with an equal amount of cat litter or other absorbent and let it dry. Let the leftover paint in the bottom of the can dry out, using one of the above techniques.
ALL OTHER PAINTS MUST BE TAKEN TO A HAZARDOUS WASTE COLLECTION SITE! (Even if it is dried out.)
Mercury & Battery Disposal
|FACTS about MERCURY Mercury Thermometers and Thermostats are accepted at the MRF||Alternatives to Thermometers/Thermostats Digital
Dental Amalgam & Fillings Ask dentist about other treatments Auto light switches in hood & trunk Ball bearing switches (Available for about $1)
|Mercury Items: Barometers & Manometers Alternatives are available Some nasal sprays, ointments, contact lens solutions. Read labels, avoid products with Thimerosal, phenylmercuric acetate, merbromim|
One fever thermometer contains about 1/2 gram of mercury, enough to contaminate a 10-acre lake. A home thermostat contains about 3 grams of mercury. Every waterway in Wisconsin has been issued a Fish Consumption Advisory due to mercury contamination. Mercury is released into the environment by burning fossil fuels or when products containing mercury are landfilled, incinerated or released into water systems. Bacteria in lakes and rivers converts mercury to a more toxic form called methyl mercury, which is absorbed by plankton and fish and bio accumulates through the food chain.
Battery Disposal Guide
|Battery Type||Common Name||Size Available||Examples of Use||Proper Disposal|
|Coppertop, Alkaline||AAA, AA, C, D, 6V, 9V||Flashlights, Calculators, Toys, Clocks, Smoke Alarms & Remote Controls||Place in Trash|
||Mercuric Oxide, Silver Oxide, Lithium, Alkaline, Zinc-Air||Sizes Vary||Watches, Hearing Aids, Toys, Greeting Cards, Remote Controls||Collected at MRF (Recycling Center)
|Carbon Zinc||"Classic", Heavy Duty, General Purpose, All Purpose, Power Cell||AAA, AA, C, D, 6V, 9V||Flashlights, Calculators, Toys, Clocks, Smoke Alarms & Remote Controls, Transistor Radios, Garage Door Openers||Place in Trash|
|Lithium||Usually has "Lithium" Label on the battery||3V, 6V, 3V Button||Cameras, Calculators, Computer Memory Back Up||Collected at MRF (Recycling Center)|
|Nickel Cadmium (Rechargable)||Either Unlabeled or Labeled "Ni-Cd"||AAA, AA, C, D, 6V, 9V||Flashlights, Toys, Power Tools, Cell Phones, Computer Packs||Collected at MRF (Recycling Center)|
|Reuseable Alkaline Manganese (Rechargeable)||Renewal||AAA, AA, C, D||Flashlights, Calculators, Toys, Clocks, Radios, Remote Controls||Place in Trash|
|Sealed Lead Acid (Rechargeable)||"Gel", VRB, AGM, Cyclone, Dynasty, El Power, Gates, Lithonia, Saft, Panasonic, Yuasa||Multiples of 2 Volts: 2V, 6V, 12V||Video Cameras, Power Tools, Wheelchairs, ATV's Cameras, Metal Detectors, Clocks||Collected at MRF (Recycling Center)|
|NOTE: Several Pharmacies & Department Stores will take back used batteries at their photo department. Ask if yours does.|
Section 201-13.(A) Individuals may burn yard waste generated on their property including but not limited to brush, stumps or unpainted and untreated wood with prior notification to the Pierce County Solid Waste Department, unless township or municipal regulations prohibit open burning of these materials. All necessary precautions shall be taken to prevent unauthorized material from being burned, to keep the fire under control and to burn when wind and weather conditions are such as to minimize adverse effects and to conform with local and state fire protection regulations. Nothing in this chapter shall be construed as relieving a person from the responsibility of obtaining any necessary township or municipal burning permit. Burning shall take place only on the property on which the yard waste was generated.
Section 201-16. No person shall burn, dump, place, deposit, bury or otherwise dispose of solid waste in; or cause the littering of any roadside, public park, private property, waterway or other body of water, or any other geographical component of Pierce County.
Note: Individuals should also notify the Sheriff's Department when burning yard waste and clean wood.
Most smoke detectors contain a small amount of Americium 241, a radioactive material. On the wall, a smoke detector is safe but if broken open in a landfill, it can pose a health threat. All detectors that have radioactive components must be labeled as such. The companies that manufacture detectors accept returned units for disposal as hazardous waste.
The majority of smoke detectors sold in the United States are made by First Alert. Their address for returning detectors is:
First Alert, Radioactive Waste Disposal
780 McClure Rd., Aurora, IL 60504-2495
Most other smoke detectors are made by a Canadian company called American Sensors.
You may reach them by calling: