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Recycling Through Return

For items that Sanitation will not pick up through basic curbside recycling, consider a recycling return program. You can return items such as cell phones, rechargeable batteries, plastic bags, tires and more.

Mandatory Return Programs

New York State law requires retailers and manufacturers to accept and recycle certain household items. Contact the NY State Department of Environmental Conservation if a retailer or manufacture refuses to accept the following items:

  • Auto Batteries: All service stations and supply stores that sell auto batteries are required to accept old batteries at no charge.
  • Bottles and Cans: Retailers give a five cent refund on bottles and cans they sell for off-premises consumption, regardless of where the container was originally purchased. Note that stores can reject broken bottles or cans and will only accept up to 240 bottles or cans a day.
  • Cell Phones: All wireless providers that sell cell phones within New York State must accept cell phones for recycling.
  • Rechargeable Batteries: Stores that sell rechargeable batteries (or products containing rechargeable batteries) must collect rechargeable batteries for recycling.
  • Motor Oil: All service stations that change oil are required to accept up to five gallons of used motor oil per day, per person, at no charge.
  • Plastic Bags: Bags can be dropped off at large stores and shopping malls, as well as medium to large chain stores that provide plastic bags.
  • Tires: Businesses that sell or install tires must take back tires of approximately the same size that they sell.
  • Smoke Detectors: Manufacturers of ionization smoke detectors must accept returned radioactive detectors for disposal as hazardous waste. The suppliers address is usually listed in the product warranty or user’s manual.
  • Syringes: All NY hospitals and nursing homes are required to collection used household sharps, including syringes and lancelets, with no identification required. If a provider refuses to accept your syringes, contact New York State Department of Health.

Voluntary Return Programs

Many groups accept products for recycling on their own initiative. Some common household items that you can drop off at voluntary take back program for recycling are:

  • Compact Fluorescent Light Bulbs (CFL): Many home improvement stores, such as Home Depot and Ikea, accept at no cost any type of broken or expired CFL for recycling.
  • Thermostats: Residents can return used thermostats to the Thermostat Recycling Corporation (TRC).
  • Clothing: Many clothing companies, such as Nike and Patagonia, accept and recycle their products. Before purchasing clothing ask about the company’s take back recycling policy.
  • Film Cartridges: Kodak takes back many of its products, including canisters, lids, spools, cartridges and one-time-use cameras.
  • Ink Cartridges: Most companies that sell ink cartridges will accept and recycle used and empty cartridges.
  • Brita Filers: The Preserve Gimme5 Program accepts kitchen items such as Brita filters.
  • Electronics: In 2015 most electronics will be required by law to be accepted by manufacturers and retailers. Many manufacturers have already started voluntary return programs in preparation.

NOTE: Sanitation’s mention of these resources does not constitute an endorsement.

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