Recycling Batteries and Light Bulbs
Batteries have traditionally contained large amounts of mercury and other heavy metals, which pose numerous threats to the environment. If landfilled, these metals could leach into ground water reserves and possibly contaminate surface waters and their living inhabitants.
Since 1984, an ongoing effort has been made to reduce mercury content in alkaline batteries. As of now there is a 97 percent reduction and some newer alkaline batteries may have only one-tenth of original levels.
Due to the reductions made in recent years, most waste facilities, including New Hanover County, now accept alkaline batteries in landfills. Alkaline batteries include non-rechargeable types like AA, C, and D that are commonly used in radios and flashlights. Alkaline batteries may be placed in a plastic bag and disposed of as regular trash.
All other batteries are deferred to local recycling centers because they still contain high levels of heavy metals and acids that have detrimental impacts on the environment.
The Environmental Health and Safety Department manages battery recycling on campus and will accept small non-alkaline batteries. This includes rechargeable batteries, camera batteries and batteries used in lab equipment. For convenience, there are collection boxes located in the University Union, Trask Coliseum next to the snack bar, the Telecommunications office, the Center for Marine Sciences Room 1126, Bear, Dobo and Friday halls.
New Hanover County recycling program also has collection locations around the area. Visit their Web site for listings.
For further information on battery recycling, contact Jay Souza at 910-962-3057.
The Light Recycling Program was implemented to meet the universal waste regulations issued under the Resource Conservation and Recovery Act (RCRA) in 40CFR Part 273. The Agency has concluded that regulating spent hazardous waste lamps as a universal waste will lead to better management of these lamps and will facilitate compliance with hazardous waste requirements.
The Environmental Health & Safety (EH&S) Department manages the light recycling program at UNCW. All lights used at UNCW, except incandescent lights, are included in this program. The lights are considered hazardous due to the mercury content and can no longer be disposed of in the landfills. The lights managed under this program are specifically mercury-containing lamps to include:
- Fluorescent Lamps
- Compact Fluorescent Lamps
- Mercury Vapor Bulbs
- Metal Halide Lamps
- High Pressure Sodium
The lights will be sent to a recycling vendor with selection based on environmental compliance with industry standards and insurance levels. The light recycling technology separates mercury-containing lamps into their main components, recovers the mercury, and recycles 100 percent of the end product. They accept all the mercury-containing lamps generated at UNCW.
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- Physical Plant, Auxiliary Services, and Housing and Residence Life maintenance personnel are responsible for changing out the lights and, therefore, they will have the responsibility for the management of the program. The maintenance personnel in these departments will store the used lights in the original cardboard containers in their designated storage areas.
- "Universal Waste" labels are placed on these boxes by the generating department. The labels identify the generating department and the date. EH&S provides the labels to the departments.
- Physical Plant is the largest generator and they determine the pick-up schedule based on their storage capabilities. Physical Plant personnel will notify EH&S when their storage area is nearing capacity.
- EH&S schedules a pick-up from the recycler at this time. Two weeks lead time is required.
- All used lights must be transferred to the warehouse receiving dock prior to pick-up.
- After the pick-up, EH&S will bill each department for their portion of the recycling costs.
If university employees change their own lights, they must contact their maintenance personnel or EH&S for assistance in sending the lights to the recycling storage area.
EH&S endorses this recycling program and feels that it supports the environmentally conscious mission of the university.
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