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Safety Lessons from Earth Day—when NOT to recycle

KTLA News ran a story on Earth Day 2013 about the risks associated with recycling car seats. Although ecological experts recommend taking steps to reuse whatever, whenever and wherever possible to protect the earth’s natural resources, there are several instances when safety concerns should reshape the desire to save Planet Earth.

It’s great to reuse, restore and recycle. But make sure you recycle instead of reusing whenever safety is a concern. Here are a few items that require special attention for safe recycling:

Car Seats— a Wisconsin EMS Specialist Kathy Bruckbauer describes car seat recycling guidelines like this: “The older car seats tend to crack and break, making them unsafe for your children. If the car seat is over six years old, has been recalled by the manufacturer, has ever been in a crash, or has missing or broken parts, you should just recycle it and not use it.”

In Los Angeles County, 130,000 babies are born each year. KTLA Reporter Gayle Anderson reports that a large number of old child safety seats are thrown away, when they should instead be recycled. Recycling child safety seats will help protect the environment and keep large amounts of potentially toxic plastic chemicals out of local landfills.

Thanks to the Child Safety Seat Recycling Project, organized by SafetyBeltSafe U.S.A., the Pomona Police Department, and TMC Horizon Inc. Recycling Center in Pomona, LA County residents can recycle old, damaged, or expired child safety seats, which may not provide the best protection to children during a crash and therefore, need to be destroyed rather than reused.

Batteries—common household batteries, such as AAs, AAAs, Cs, Ds and 9-volts are not thought to pose as great a threat to properly equipped modern landfills as they once were, thanks in part to the fact they contain far less mercury than their predecessors. As a result, most municipalities recommend throwing the batteries away with your trash.

Nevertheless, environmentally-minded consumers might feel better recycling such batteries, since trace amounts of mercury and other potentially toxic materials in each and every battery, no matter the mindset of the manufacturer. Some hazardous waste centers accept batteries which they send to be processed and recycled. Call your local trash collection center to find out if they take batteries. Or you can mail your old batteries to be recycled by Battery Solutions.

Light Bulbs—a story in the Los Angeles Times pointed out that light bulbs cannot be placed in standard recycling bins for curbside pickup. Incandescent bulbs, however, can be tossed into the trash bins, while fluorescent, compact fluorescent lamp (CFL) and light-emitting diode (LED) bulbs are considered household hazardous waste because they contain mercury or other hazardous materials, and must be taken to a disposal facility or S.A.F.E. Center because they may contain mercury and/or other hazardous materials.

To find out where you can safely dispose of light bulbs in your area, contact the waste management facility in your town.

Most important is buying cost effective recycling bulbs in the future. If you’re unfamiliar with newer bulb models, the lighting aisle at your local home improvement store can be a bit intimidating at first. Which bulb is the most cost effective? Which works better? And most importantly, which will save the most energy? For a quick tutorial about environmentally-friendly bulbs, check out this simple tutorial on the website.

Overall, when it comes to recycling anything, make sure that safety is your number one priority. When a disaster strikes, prior planning and clear decisive action can help save lives. The Allied Universal Training System by Universal Fire/Life Safety Services is an interactive, building-specific e-learning training system which motivates and rewards tenants instantly! It’s a convenient and affordable solution to all of the training needs of your building(s). Choosing our service cuts property management training related workloads by 90% and saves you over 50% compared to conventional training! More importantly, IT SAVES LIVES!


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