“WHAT DO I DO WITH_________?”
Just because an item doesn’t belong in your recycling bin doesn’t mean that you can’t get rid of it responsibly. You simply need to know where to bring it.
Plastic bags. Paint. Mattresses. Electronics. Clothing. Furniture. Even hazardous waste has a place.
To learn where to bring those less common household items, you can use the Recycle Wizard above, or search this alphabetical listing.
Asbestos-containing materials ("ACM") in good condition should be left alone. There is no danger unless fibers are released and inhaled into the lungs. If the material is damaged or becomes damaged, the Connecticut Department of Public Health (DPH) recommends that a licensed asbestos contractor be contacted to abate the material. Abatement activities may involve repair, enclosure, encapsulation or removal of the material.
Connecticut law does not allow any person to discard more than 1 cubic foot of ACM in the trash at any one time. Contact a hauler to transport the ACM to an approved disposal site. Currently, the only facility accepting ACM in Connecticut is the RED Technologies, LLC facility in Portland, CT.
Ash (Wood Ash, Fireplace Ash, Charcoal Grill Ash, and Coal Ash)
Wood and Fireplace Ash
There are uses for wood ash and ash from the fireplace assuming you didn’t use burn treated or painted wood. It can be used in your compost pile (very small amount), as an insect repellant (sprinkle small amounts around the perimeter of your garden to deter slugs and snails), or applied to your soil if you need to raise the pH. Treated or painted/stained wood should not be burned, as it emits toxins into the air and results in contaminated ash.
If you heat your home with coal, you are creating coal ash. This ash should be put in a bag and disposed of with your trash. Be aware that coals from ash can be ‘live’ and continue to burn for as long as 4-6 weeks after they’ve been removed from the stove.
Ash from Charcoal Grills
Whether you've used charcoal briquettes with or without lighter fluid, this ash should be put in a bag and disposed of with your trash.
Ash from Manufactured Logs and Pellets
Usually manufactured logs and pellets are made from wood waste, sawdust and waxes. Make sure you know if these products contain natural adhesives (natural waxes and oils) vs. petroleum-based products. Ash from logs and pellets with petroleum-based products or unknown ingredients should not be applied to your garden, soil or compost. If you’re not sure, contact the manufacturer directly, or throw it out in the trash.
There are many different types of batteries and disposal options may vary for each.
Automotive Batteries (Lead-Acid Batteries)
Connecticut law requires you to return lead-acid auto batteries for recycling and requires retailers of these batteries to accept a used battery for each battery they sell. Retail stores that sell batteries are required to accept up to three batteries from a customer that is not purchasing a new battery. Some towns accept lead-acid auto batteries at their local transfer station, contact your local recycling coordinator for more information.
All rechargeable batteries can be recycled at participating retail collection points including most Wal-Mart and Best Buy stores. For information on where to recycle in your area, contact Call2Recycle at 1-877-2-RECYCLE, or go online to call2recycle.org.
Non-Rechargeable Household Batteries (Alkaline and Zinc Carbon Batteries)
These batteries are not hazardous and can be disposed of in regular trash. However, if recycling is available, please recycle them.
Watch or Button Batteries (Silver Oxide Batteries)
Many jewelry stores will recycle these batteries when you bring your watch in to have the battery replaced. If not, please bring to a household hazardous waste (HHW) collection in your area. Contact your local recycling coordinator for more information.
Camera and Portable Electronic Device Batteries (Lithium Batteries)
Any type of lithium battery should not be put in the trash. Please bring to a household hazardous waste (HHW) collection in your area. Contact your local recycling coordinator for more information.
Commonly used in hearing aids, the best option is to bring such batteries to a household hazardous waste (HHW) collection in your area. Contact your local recycling coordinator for more information.
Books and Textbooks
Reuse is preferable to recycling. Offer books to your local library, senior center, school libraries, friends, thrift stores, swap shops and charities. If your books are not in good condition, they can be put in recycling.
Usually junk yards and salvage companies will take your old vehicles for recycling or parts, but consider donating your vehicle to charity. You will be helping a cause and also receiving a tax deduction for your gift. Many of them work with companies that will tow your donated vehicle for free.
Carpets & Rugs
If your carpets and rugs are in good, reusable condition, consider donating them to a local non-profit, thrift shop or a building materials reuse center. If not, contact your local recycling coordinator to learn how your community disposes of old, used carpets.
If your cell phone is in working condition, you may want to donate it to a program that provides phones to the elderly or potential victims of domestic violence. Contact your local recycling coordinator to find out if there is a program or non-profit in your area. Your cellular service provider may also take your old phone for recycling.
Hazardous chemicals can often be found in common household products like drain cleaners, bathroom cleaners, furniture polishes, laundry products, etc. Unwanted, leftover hazardous products must be disposed of properly. If you have any hazardous products that you need to dispose of, bring them to a household hazardous waste (HHW) collection. Contact your local recycling coordinator for more information.
Remember, most cleaning products have environmentally-friendly alternatives that are effective and safer.
Clothing, Shoes, and Other Textiles
Consider donating or many organizations will accept textiles that you may consider unwearable and recycle them to make other products. If your clothing and textiles are not in good condition, put them in the trash.
Cork (from wine bottles)
Corks can be reused in craft and art projects. You can also use them as mulch in the garden, or grind them up and use in potting soil or as drainage medium in plant pots.
Construction & Demolition Debris
Planning, before your construction or remodeling project begins, can reduce waste and increase the ability to divert materials for reuse and recycling. Connecticut has several reuse centers for building materials which may accept your used cabinetry, flooring, fixtures or other salvaged building materials.
To learn how to dispose of dehumidifiers safely in your community, contact your local recycling coordinator for more information.
Electronics such as computers, monitors, tablets, phones, televisions, if in good condition, can be donated to charities such as Goodwill industries, Salvation Army, or can be offered on FreeCycle or Craigslist. If the item is no longer useful, it should be recycled at a local electronics collection. Some towns have drop-off locations, while others participate in regional one-day collections. You can also contact your local Staple's or Best Buy as they may offer recycling for computers, peripherals and other electronics. Contact your local recycling coordinator for more information.
Lions Clubs coordinate eyeglass recycling activities. Lions-sponsored collection boxes may be found at Pearle Vision, Lens Crafters, Target Optical, Sunglass Hut Stores, and some optometrists' offices.
Fire extinguishers are under pressure and should not be put in the regular trash. Many of today's units are rechargeable. For a small fee, you can have your fire extinguisher emptied, checked and re-filled.
Some communities accept fire extinguishers at the town transfer station, the local fire department, or the household hazardous waste (HHW) collection in your area. Contact your local recycling coordinator for more information.
If you have unexploded fireworks, they should not be thrown in the trash, since this could pose a serious injury, fire or explosion hazard. You should call your local fire marshal or police department and they will see to it that the fireworks are disposed of safely.
Food scraps can be composted at home. Click here to learn how to compost or look for new programs collecting food scraps from your home or at your municipal transfer station. Call your local recycling coordinator to learn about options in your community.
If you need to dispose of old or excess fuel, check with your local service station or fuel retailer to see if they will accept it. If not, see if your local household hazardous waste (HHW) collection will accept these fuels. Contact your local recycling coordinator for more information.
If the fuel is in good usable condition, try to reuse it yourself, or give it away to someone else who will use it. There are additive products on the market that you can put in old fuels to recondition them and make them usable again.
Grass clippings can be composted at home or left on your lawn where they will decompose. Click here to learn how to compost. Grass clippings should not be put in the trash because they are banned from disposal at landfills and incinerators.
You may also check with your local recycling coordinator to see if your town accepts grass clippings in their organics recycling program.
Grease & Vegetable Oils
At home, you should never put grease, oils or fats down your drain. Oils and fats can be disposed of in your regular trash. Hot oil should be allowed to cool. Place in a can or container before putting it into trash. You can also contact your local recycling coordinator to see if your community collects vegetable oil at the local transfer station to be used as biofuels.
You can recycle hearing aids regardless of how old they are or model type. Hearing aids will be refurbished or pieces will be used for parts. Hearing aids are collected by both the Lions Club and the Starkey Hearing Foundation.
Household Hazardous Waste
Household hazardous wastes (HHW) are items such as old stains, paints, and paint-related products, pesticides, pool chemicals, drain cleaners, mercury-containing products, degreasers and other household and car care products. To discard any leftover or unused material, it should be taken to a household hazardous waste (HHW) collection center or one-day collection event. For more information, contact your local recycling coordinator.
Leaves should be kept separate from other recyclables and garbage. State law requires that towns provide leaf recycling. Some towns collect leaves curbside during the fall, some have residential drop-off areas, while others ask residents to compost them at home. Check with your local recycling coordinator for specific leaf collection information.
Fluorescent bulbs should not be disposed of in the regular trash. They are accepted at household hazardous waste (HHW) collections. Contact your local recycling coordinator or Department of Public Works for more information.
Incandescent bulbs include traditional screw-in light bulbs, traditional tungsten-element light bulbs, as well as the newer halogen lamps. These types of bulbs may be disposed of in regular trash.
Holiday String Lighting
Both incandescent and LED holiday lights are recyclable. By recycling your broken and outdated lights, you’ll keep the toxins in the electric cables out of the incinerator. Check with your local recycling coordinator to see if there is a collection near you.
Your local Home Depot or Whole Foods may have coordinated seasonal trade-in or recycling collection programs at some locations. Contact your local retailer to see if they participate. You can also look into a recycling program sponsored by Christmas Light Source.
Some municipalities accept mattresses at the town transfer station. Contact your local recycling coordinator to find out where to bring your used mattress for recycling or disposal, or you can go to the Bye Bye Mattress website for a location near you.
Medical Supplies and Equipment
Medical supplies and equipment includes home medical equipment and unused, unexpired surplus medical supplies, and medical and nursing textbooks. Different organizations accept used medical equipment, repairs, sells and/or donates them to those in need such as Chariots of Hope, New England Assistance Technology Center at Oak Hill, and Hospital for Special Care.
Motor Oil and Filters
To properly dispose of used oil and filters from the maintenance of cars, trucks, lawn and garden equipment, and recreational vehicles, contact your local recycling coordinator for information on the services available in your area.
If your town does not accept used oil or filters, check with a local service station to see if they will accept it.
The best option is to reuse nursery pots and trays. Sanitize them first to kill any plant pathogens. Your local nursery or garden center may take them back. You can also check with Lowe's as they may be sponsoring a seasonal nursery pot take-back program. If that’s not an option, rinsed and dry plastic nursery pots and trays can go in recycling.
Some towns will collect these items curbside, although you may have to call ahead for a pickup. For other towns, pickups are scheduled on certain days and some towns require that you bring such items to the local transfer station. Check with your local recycling coordinator for information on the services available in your area.
Save packing peanuts at home for future projects. If that is not an option, you can contact the Plastic Loose Fill Council, a material reuse program. They have drop off centers in Connecticut. Call 1.800.828.2214 to find the one closest to you.
Lead-based paint wastes are considered household hazardous waste (HHW) and should be taken to a local household hazardous waste collection center or one-day collection event. For information on services in your area, contact your local recycling coordinator.Latex and Oil-Based
Household hazard waste (HHW) programs accept oil-based paint and some are now choosing to accept latex paint as well. Some municipal transfer stations accept latex and oil-based paints for their residents. Contact your local recycling coordinator or Public Works Department for more information.
There are paint retailers that will accept oil and latex paint of any brand at their stores. PaintCare is a resource that can direct you to a participating retailer.
Dispose of pesticides at your local household hazardous waste (HHW) collection center or one-day collection event. Contact your local recycling coordinator for more information.
Disposal of used or unused portions of photo chemicals should be managed as household hazardous waste (HHW). They should be brought to your local household hazardous waste (HHW) collection center or one-day collection event. Contact your local recycling coordinator for more information.
Plastic Bags/Plastic Film
Plastic bags or plastic film does not belong in your recycling bin. You should consider reusing them, or bring them to a participating retailer in the Connecticut WRAP Program. Participating retailers will accept the following plastic bags or film for recycling: shopping bags, bread bags, newspaper bags, bubble wrap, packaging pillows, dry cleaner bags, and plastic shrink wrap used around cases of bottled water, paper towels, toilet paper and other commodities.
Prescription Medicine and Over-the-Counter Products (OTC)
Do not throw prescription medicines or over-the-counter (OTC) products down the sink or toilet. You can put them in the trash following these disposal instructions. Also, many towns have installed special drop boxes for permanent disposal of used medications at local police departments.
Propane Tanks (From Grills, Campers, RVs, etc.)
Do not throw your tank in the recycle bin or the trash. Propane is very explosive! Do not attempt to puncture or remove the valve from your tank because tanks usually contain small amounts of propane, even if you think they are empty. You may be able to bring your tank to your local household hazardous waste (HHW) collection, yet contact your local recycling coordinator to see if propane tanks are allowed at your local collection event.
Before purchasing a new propane tank, consider using a tank/cylinder exchange program now available at many hardware stores, convenience stores, home improvement stores, and large retailers.
Satellite dishes can be reused or recycled. There are several options for these items including giving them back to the dish companies, donating to a recycling center, selling online, or reusing the dish for something else. Contact your local recycling coordinator to see if your town accepts satellite dishes.
Sharps should not be put into your recycle bin. To properly dispose of sharps/needles, you should seal them in rigid, puncture-resistant containers that you can’t see through (i.e. detergent bottles, coffee cans, etc.), label the containers "Do Not Recycle" and reinforce containers with heavy-duty tape before throwing them in your household trash.
You can also check with your supplier (i.e. your physician, local hospital, or pharmacy) to see if they are willing to accept properly packaged used sharps.
Shredded paper should not be put in your recycle bin. Contact your local recycling coordinator to see if there is an upcoming event in your town where you can bring your shredded paper, or have your documents shredded.
Smoke detectors should not be put in your recycling bin. You are encouraged to find alternatives to throwing them in the trash. Unfortunately, smoke detectors are not accepted at most household hazardous waste (HHW) collection centers, yet you can check by contacting your local recycling coordinator.
There is a company, Curie Environmental Services, that accepts any brand of smoke alarm for recycling. For a nominal fee, the company will disassemble the smoke detector and recycle the components instead of disposing them as hazardous waste.
Mercury thermometers have a distinct, grayish-silver liquid in the bulb. They must be brought to a household hazardous waste (HHW) collection center in your area. Contact your local recycling coordinator for more information.
Traditional circular thermostats contain a sealed glass "tilt switch" that contains several grams of liquid mercury and should not be placed in the regular trash.
Place the thermostat in a secure container (e.g. plastic food container), and take it to a local household hazardous waste (HHW) collection center or one-day collection event. To find out about collections in your area, contact your local recycling coordinator.
When purchasing new tires, the old tires can be left at the retail store. However, the retailer will usually charge you a nominal fee to cover their disposal costs. Many municipal recycling facilities accept tires, preferably without rims. For more information, contact your local recycling coordinator.
Toner and Ink Cartridges
Many toner and ink cartridges can be refilled and reused at least 6 times. Many retail stores such as Best Buy, Target, and Staples will either refill your cartridge or provide payment or credits when you recycle cartridges. Some companies such as Hewlett Packard, Epson, and Xerox provide recycling services for their own cartridges. These services often involve ordering a prepaid envelope to mail cartridges directly back to the manufacturer.
If you have VHS, CD, and DVD movies that are still in good watchable condition, consider donating them to a local senior center, day care facility, Salvation Army or Goodwill.
Companies such as GreenDisk and the CD Recycling Center recycle VHS tapes, DVDs and CDs. Ask them about minimum quantities and the condition of materials they will accept for recycling.
Currently, there are no local programs in place that collect filters that were connected directly to a faucet or used within a pitcher system. However, some manufacturers have programs.
Wrappers (Snack, Chip, Candy and Cookie)
Plastic wrappers from chips, candy bars and other snacks cannot go in your recycle bin, but are being collected and made into new products including bags and home décor. TerraCycle will accept your wrappers for recycling – and may even pay you!
Wood - Clean (Brush, Stumps, Logs)
Brush, stumps and logs should preferably be recycled into wood mulch or firewood. If you do not have or cannot rent the equipment to do this yourself, check with your local recycling coordinator to see if they accept clean wood at the recycling center or transfer station.
Many yoga mats can be reused or recycled. If your mat is still in decent shape, consider donating it to a community center that offers yoga or exercise classes, or contact the nearest yoga studio. Animal shelters will sometimes accept them to use in cages.
For more detailed information, go to Connecticut’s Department of Energy & Environmental Protection.