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What Can I Recycle?

Many answers to the FAQs below advise you to check with your local recycling coordinator in order to determine what your local recycling program accepts in curbside and drop-off programs. Addtional information also is available by calling DHEC's Office of Solid Waste Reduction and Recycling (Office) at 1-800-768-7348.

Antifreeze

QUESTION: How do I properly dispose of or recycle antifreeze?

ANSWER: Many South Carolina counties accept antifreeze in their recycling programs. Check with your local recycling coordinator to see if antifreeze is collected in your community (and ask them to add the service if it is not).

Your best option may be to check with your car dealer or mechanic to see if they will accept your antifreeze for recycling or proper disposal. If they do not, call the Office at 1-800-768-7348 for other options.

More information is available about managing hazardous household products.

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Appliance Fee

QUESTION: I just bought several new appliances for my home. Why did I have to pay a $2 fee on each of the appliances?

ANSWER: There is a $2 fee on each appliance you purchase. The funding is used to pay for DHEC’s solid waste management and recycling activities and to provide grant funding to local governments for recycling programs.

NOTE: Before buying a new appliance, ask the retailer to accept your old appliance.

NOTE: The state has no other fees associated with the sale of appliances. Retailers may charge additional environmental fees for recycling or proper disposal as a matter of company policy.

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Batteries

QUESTION: How do I properly dispose of or recycle batteries?

ANSWER: Alkaline batteries (for example, CD players, radios, television remotes and toy batteries) can be disposed of with your household garbage. Alkaline batteries were of particular environmental concern because they contained mercury. In the past decade or so, the batteries have been redesigned and no mercury added. The only mercury found in an alkaline battery is what naturally occurs as a trace element in other metals. In addition, many manufacturers are designing batteries for a longer life.

You can also be a more selective and environmentally friendly consumer. Consider buying rechargeable batteries.

Call2Recycle recycles rechargeable batteries and cell phones. Through the rechargeable battery collection program the following types of batteries can be recycled; nickel cadmium batteries, nickel-metal hydride, small sealed lead rechargeable batteries, nickel zinc and lithium ion batteries (e.g., rechargeable batteries for tools, toys, cellular phones, video cameras, digital cameras, hand-held vacuums and laptop computers) View the complete list.  All of these can be recycled at many retail stores including Radio Shack, Target, Ace Hardware, Best Buy, Sears, The Home Depot and Cellular One. There are more than 700 retail locations in South Carolina that accept these types of batteries. Call 1-877-2-RECYCLE for a retail location near you or use Call2Recycle's online locator.

Lead-acid batteries (e.g., car and truck batteries) must be recycled in South Carolina. You can recycle your old battery at the retail location where you bought your new battery. There is a $7 fee added to the cost of the battery to ensure that the battery is recycled. If you return your old battery when you buy a new battery, you will receive a $5 credit and only be charged $2.

If you have an old battery that you need to recycle, but don’t need to buy a new one, there are two options. First, some counties accept lead-acid batteries. Check with your local recycling coordinator or call the Office at 1-800-768-7348 to see if this service is offered in your community. Second, check with area retail stores, car dealers and auto repair shops to see if they will accept your old battery for recycling.

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Composting

QUESTION: I would like to compost in my backyard. Where can I get some simple advice on how to compost correctly?

ANSWER: The Office provides composting information through fact sheets -- including "Do Your Part: Compost at Home" -- and its Smart Gardener Program. The program's centerpiece publication is the "S.C. Smart Gardener Handbook"which provides detailed, step-by-step instructions to begin composting at home.

In addition, the Office provides a booklet called “Home Composting Made Easy” at no cost. Contact the Office or call 1-800-768-7348 for more information.

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Electronics 

E-cycle South Carolina

QUESTION: How do I properly recycle a computer, television or other electronic equipment from my home?

ANSWER: If the equipment still works, consider donating it to a non-profit organization. If it does not work or you cannot donate it, recycling options are available. Many manufacturers and retailers offer take-back programs. Most counties and some municipalities offer permanent programs or one-day collection events to accept household electronics.

For more information on recycling electronics in South Carolina, visit E-cycle South Carolina.

You also can be a more selective and environmentally friendly consumer. Consider upgrading your computer or leasing a computer instead of buying a new one. Before buying a new computer or other electronic equipment, ask the retailer if they have a “takeback” program that allows consumers to bring back old computers and other electronic equipment.

For institutional purchasers, there is EPEAT, which stands for Electronic Product Environmental Assessment Tool. EPEAT is an easy-to-use, on-line tool helping institutional purchasers select and compare computer desktops, laptops and monitors based on their environmental attributes.

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Gasoline 

QUESTION: How do I properly recycle gasoline?

ANSWER: The Office has worked with local recycling programs to set up collection tanks for gasoline and oil/gasoline mixtures. Ninety-five collection sites have been established in 42 counties.

More information is available about managing hazardous household products.

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Glass

QUESTIONS: Where can glass be recycled if it is not accepted by my curbside program?

ANSWER: Many counties have recycling centers that accept glass bottles and jars for recycling. Check with your local recycling coordinator to find out if glass is accepted at a recycling center in your community. If not, call the Office at 1-800-768-7348 for other recycling options.

It is not necessary to remove the labels, but you should remove the lids. Window glass, mirrors, Pyrex, light bulbs, ceramics and drinking glasses are NOTaccepted for recycling.

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Large Appliances

QUESTION: Can I recycle my large household appliances (e.g., refrigerators, stoves, washers and dryers)?

ANSWERS: Most counties accept large appliances for recycling, either at designated locations or in some cases, they offer curbside pick up.

Check with your local recycling coordinator or call the Office at 1-800-768-7348.

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Lead-acid Battery Fee

QUESTION: I just bought a new battery for my car. Why did I have to pay a $2 fee on the new battery? They also put a $5 charge and credit on my receipt. Why did they do that?

ANSWER: There is a $2 fee on each lead-acid battery (for example, car, truck and lawnmower) that you buy. The funding is used to pay for DHEC’s solid waste management and recycling activities and to provide grant funding to local governments for recycling programs. The $5 charge and credit was for the return of your old battery. If you return an old battery without buying a new one, you would have to pay that $5 fee. 

NOTE: The state has no other fees associated with the sale of lead-acid batteries. Retailers may charge additional environmental fees for recycling or proper disposal as a matter of company policy.

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Motor Oil, Oil Filters and Oil Bottles

QUESTION: How do I recycle used motor oil?

ANSWER: Used oil can be recycled at more than 900 sites offered by local governments across the state. In addition, there are retail outlets such as Advance Auto, Auto Zone and some Jiffy Lubes that accept used oil. A county-by-county list is available. If you have further questions, you can call your local recycling coordinator or the Office at 1-800-768-7348.

QUESTION: How do I recycle oil filters and bottles?

ANSWER: Most county and some municipal programs collect used motor oil filters and bottles from DIYers. Check with your local recycling coordinator for a recycling center near you.

Additional information about used motor oil recycling is available.

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Oil Fee

QUESTION: I just bought oil for my car. Why did I have to pay a fee of two cents for each quart of oil?

ANSWER: There is a fee of two cents per quart of oil. The funding is used to pay for activities of the Office and to provide grant funding to local governments to ensure the proper disposal and recycling of used oil, oil filters and oil bottles.

NOTE: The state has no other fees associated with the sale of oil. Retailers may charge additional environmental fees for recycling or proper disposal as a matter of company policy.

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Oil/Gasoline Mixtures 

QUESTION: How do I properly recycle oil/gasoline mixtures?

ANSWER: The Office has worked with local recycling programs to set up collection tanks for gasoline and oil/gasoline mixtures. Ninety-five collection sites have been established in 42 counties.

For more information or for a collection site near you, call 1-800-768-7348.

Packaging 'Peanuts'

QUESTION: What can I do with those packaging peanuts that come with things that are shipped to me?

ANSWER: Don’t throw them away. Save them and use them when you need to mail a package. If you don’t want to do that, most stores that mail packages will accept the peanuts and reuse them.

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Paint

QUESTION: How do I properly dispose of or recycle paint?

ANSWER: If the paint still can be used, try to donate it to a non-profit, church or theater group. In addition, check to see if your school's art class or drama program can use it.

Many counties also accept usable latex paint from residents. These counties include Aiken, CharlestonFairfieldGreenvilleHamptonHorryLancaster, PickensSpartanburg and YorkCharleston and Hampton counties accept oil-based paint as well.

Other local governments may offer single-day collection events. If your county is not listed above, please contact your local recycling coordinator or solid waste management director for the proper disposal methods in your community.

In general, you can prepare paint for proper disposal by completing the following steps. 

  1. Remove the lid and allow the paint to air dry (harden) completely. Make sure you do this in a well-ventilated area away from children and pets.
  2. You can add cat litter, shredded newspaper, saw dust or sand to the paint to speed up the drying process. Stir occasionally.
  3. Once the paint is completely dried, you can dispose of it with your household garbage.

More information is available about managing hazardous household products.

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Pesticides

QUESTION: What can I do with old pesticides?

ANSWER: These are very difficult materials to properly manage. All pesticide products have disposal instructions on their label. Read and follow the directions. If the product is still sold in stores and the label is still readable, use it or try to give it to someone or an organization that can use it. Only three local governments offer permanent household hazardous materials collection programs (CharlestonHorry and York counties). Other local governments may offer single-day collection events. If offered, you can take your pesticides to such an event (check with your local recycling coordinator to see if such an event is scheduled).

Also, consider minimizing the use of pesticides. The Smart Gardener Programprovides information about natural alternatives. See the "S.C. Smart Gardener Handbook" and refer to the "Natural Pest, Weed & Disease Control" section.

More information is available about managing hazardous household products.

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Plastic Bags

QUESTION: Where can I recycle plastic bags?

ANSWER: Many grocery stores accept plastic bags for recycling. For a list of stores in your area that accept them, visit plasticbagrecycling.org.

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Telephone Books

QUESTION: Where can I recycle my telephone book?

ANSWER: Because there is no market or an area end-user for recycling telephone books, there is not an on-going collection process for these books.

To prevent old phone books from going into the landfill many Keep America Beautiful affiliates sponsor telephone book recycling programs each February. The Office recommends that you store your phone books in an out-of-the-way place and save them for recycling next February. 

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Tires

QUESTION: How do I properly dispose of of waste tires?

ANSWER: Most counties have collection programs that accept a minimal number of waste tires (usually about five) at drop-off recycling centers. Check with yourlocal recycling coordinator or call the Office at 1-800-768-7348 for a drop-off center near you. 

One of the Office's programs directly supports the use of recycled tires on South Carolina roadways. The Asphalt Rubber Technology Service (ARTS) is a partnership of the Office, Clemson University and the City of Clemson.

The mission of ARTS is to promote, design and test the use of recycled tires in rubberized asphalt and other crumb rubber applications including highways, secondary roads, exit ramp embankments, retaining walls and other erosion-resistant beach walls. ARTS provides grant funding to local governments and others interested in this green technology. This one-of-a-kind research facility is funded by a grant from the Office.

Tire Fee

QUESTION: I just bought new tires. Why do I have to pay a $2 tire fee per tire?

ANSWER: There is a $2 fee per tire for each new tire sold in South Carolina with a U.S. Department of Transportation number. The fee is divided several ways, but mostly it is used by retailers or local governments to clean up waste tire piles and to recycle waste tires. Some funding is provided to do research to find new applications for waste tires, including using waste tires in road paving. 

NOTE: Before buying tires, ask the retailer if they accept the tires being replaced on your vehicle. 

NOTE: The state has no other fees associated with the sale of tires. Retailers may charge additional environmental fees for recycling or proper disposal as a matter of company policy.

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Unwanted Mail

QUESTION: How do I stop unwanted mail? 

ANSWER: To reduce unwanted mail, be sure to check the “do not sell my name” option that most credit card applications and catalogues now offer. In addition, send a postcard or letter to DMA Mail Preference Service, P.O. Box 9008, Farmingdale, NY, 11735-9008 requesting that they remove your name from mailing lists. Be sure to include your name, address, zip code and a request to “activate the preference service.” This will stop mail from all member organizations that you have not ordered products from for up to five years. There is no charge for this service. On-line registration also is available.

QUESTION: Can I recycle unwanted mail? 

ANSWER: It depends. If it is printed on newsprint (like a newspaper insert), you can recycle it with your newspapers. Glossy paper (e.g., magazines and other miscellaneous slick circulars) is commonly accepted in curbside and drop-off programs. If it is regular mail, printed on white paper, you can recycle it with office paper. Office paper is not accepted in most curbside programs. You may be able to take office paper to a local drop-off facility, your office or your child’s school.

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Unwanted Medicine

QUESTION: What should I do with unused or unwanted medication?

ANSWER: Flushing medication down the toilet is now discouraged as it poses a threat to human health and the environment. You should dispose of unwanted medication in your household trash by following these steps.

  • Keep the medicine in its original container. The labels may contain safety information and the caps are typically child proof. Leaving the content information clearly visible, cover the patient’s name with a permanent marker.
  • Modify the medicines to discourage consumption. For solids, such as pills or capsules, add a small amount of water to the bottle to at least partially dissolve them. For liquid medicines, add enough table salt, flour or powdered spice (such as turmeric or mustard) to make a pungent, unsightly mixture that discourages anyone from taking it.
  • Seal and conceal. Tape the container’s lid shut with packing or duct tape. Place it in a bag or container such as an empty yogurt or margarine tub to ensure that the contents cannot be seen.
  • Discard the container in your garbage can. Do not place it in the recycling bin.

CVS/PharmacyWalgreens PharmacyRite Aid Pharmacy do not accept customer medications for disposal. They do, however, offer the TakeAway Environmental Return Program for purchase. Customers can buy a self-address envelope from the pharmacies for $3.99, fill with their unused/unwanted medications (EXCLUDING CONTROLLED MEDICATIONS) and mail them away for secure and safe disposal. Call CVS/Pharmacy at 1-888-607-4287, Walgreens at 1-800-925-4733 or Rite-Aid at 1-800-748-3243 for more information.

For more detailed instructions, see the "Proper Disposal of Unwanted Medicine" fact sheet.

More information also is available about how to dispose of needles, syringes and lancets.

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