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What Can I Recycle?

Recycling is simple and convenient in South Carolina.

Each of the state’s 46 counties has a residential recycling program. Overall, there are more than 80 curbside programs, nearly 600 drop-off centers and more than 900 collection sites for do-it-yourself (DIY) oil changers.

Almost all recycling programs accept aluminum and steel cans, plastic bottles, paper and cardboard. The items listed below also can be recycled, but residents must check with their county recycling coordinator to find out if the material is accepted or what other options are available.

To find out what you can recycle, where to recycle, and who to contact for more information, visit www.scdhec.gov/recycleheresc.


Antifreeze

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

ANSWER: Some county programs accept antifreeze. To find out if it is accepted in your community, visit www.scdhec.gov/recycleheresc. In addition, check to see if your community offers single-day collection events for household hazardous material. Another option is to ask your car dealer or mechanic to see if they will accept your antifreeze for proper disposal or recycling.


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 of Solid Waste Reduction and Recycling 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.


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 of Solid Waste Reduction and Recycling 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.

For additional information on composting you can Contact the Office of Solid Waste Reduction and Recycling or call 1-800-768-7348 for more information.


E-cycle South Carolina

Electronics 

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.


Farm Oil

QUESTION: Where can farmers recycle oil?

ANSWER: Many county programs accept used motor oil from farms (25 gallons or less per month) in specially designated collection tanks. To find a collection site near you, visit www.scdhec.gov/recycleheresc.


Gasoline 

QUESTION: Where can I recycle gasoline

ANSWER: Some county programs accept gasoline in specially designated oil/gasoline mixture collection tanks. To find a collection site near you, visit www.scdhec.gov/recycleheresc.


Glass

QUESTIONS: Where can I recycle glass?

ANSWER: Many programs have dropped curbside collection of glass, but still offer recycling opportunities at drop-off centers. To find out if glass is accepted in your community, visit www.scdhec.gov/recycleheresc. It is not necessary to remove any labels. Dispose of the lid. Avoid breaking the glass. Window glass, mirrors, Pyrex, light bulbs, ceramics and drinking glasses cannot be recycled.


Large Appliances

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

ANSWERS: Large appliances must be recycled in South Carolina. Most counties accept these items at recycling drop-off centers or other designated locations, in curbside programs, or single-day collection events. To find out recycling opportunities in your community, visit www.scdhec.gov/recycleheresc. When buying a new appliance, ask if the retailer will accept the old appliance for recycling.

NOTE: There is a $2 fee on each appliance you purchase. The fee provides grant funding to local governments for recycling programs as well as the state’s solid waste management program. South Carolina has no other fee associated with the sale of appliances. Retailers my charge additional environmental fees as a matter of company policy.


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.


Motor Oil, Oil Filters and Oil Bottles

QUESTION: Where can do-it-yourself (DIY) oil changers recycle used motor oil?

ANSWER: DIYers in South Carolina are required by law to recycle their used motor oil. There are more than 900 used motor oil collection sites across South Carolina including locations in each of the state’s 46 counties for DIYers. The majority of those sites are provided by local governments, but retailers such as Advance Auto, Auto Zone, Pep Boys and Walmart also accept used motor oil from DIYers.

To find a collection site near you, visit www.scdhec.gov/recycleheresc. Not all retail locations accept used motor oil. Call ahead to ask if the service is available.

QUESTION: Where can I recycle oil filters and bottles?

ANSWER: Most county and municipal recycling programs accept used motor oil filters and bottles. To find a collection site near you, visit www.scdhec.gov/recycleheresc. Additional information on South Carolina’s comprehensive used motor oil program for DIYers is available at www.scdhec.gov/HomeAndEnvironment/Recycling/UsedOilRecycling.


Oil Fee

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

ANSWER: Most county programs accept oil/gasoline mixtures in specially designated collection tanks. To find a collection site near you, visit www.scdhec.gov/recycleheresc.


Oil/Gasoline Mixtures 

QUESTION: Where can I recycle oil/gasoline mixtures?

ANSWER: Most county programs accept oil/gasoline mixtures in specially designated collection tanks. To find a collection site near you, visit www.scdhec.gov/recycleheresc.


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.


Paint

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

ANSWER: Improperly disposed of paint can damage septic fields, overload waste water treatment plants and create environmental hazards on the ground. Residents have four options to properly manage unwanted latex paint.

  • If the paint is usable – use it (e.g., use it as a primer coat for another painting project, paint the dog house).
  • If the paint is usable and there is a reasonable quantity, donate it to a community service organization, school or theater group.
  • Some county programs accept latex paint from residents through permanent collection programs or single-day collection events. Visit www.scdhec.gov/recycleheresc to see what services are available in your community.
  • Residents may dispose of paint as part of their household trash if the paint is dry (solidified). To prepare paint for proper disposal take the following steps:

    1. Remove the lid and allow the paint to air dry. Make sure you do this in a well-ventilated area away from children and pets. This process only works efficiently with a small amount of paint in the can.
    2. For larger amounts of paint, mix an equal amount of clay-based cat litter and stir. Add cat litter after 10 minutes if the paint remains soft. Repeat until the paint is thick. Sawdust and shredded paper may be tried in place of cat litter. In addition, a paint hardener product is available at most home improvement retailers.
    3. Once dry, place the lid back on and dispose of the paint with your household garbage.

QUESTION: How should I properly dispose of or recycle oil-based paint?

ANSWER: Most experts recommend that unwanted oil-based paint be managed through a household hazardous waste program or event. Visit www.scdhec.gov/recycleheresc to see what services are available in your community.


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 (Charleston, Horry 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 Program provides 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.


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.


Telephone Books

QUESTION: Where can I recycle my telephone book?

ANSWER: Most local government recycling programs accept telephone books.

QUESTION: Can I stop having telephone books delivered to my home?

ANSWER:  Yes. To opt out, visit The National Yellow Pages Consumer Choice and Opt Out Site.


Tires

QUESTION: Where do I recycle my unwanted tires?

ANSWER: Tires must be recycled in South Carolina. All counties accept unwanted tires – often limited to a minimal number (e.g., five per day, 10 per month) at designated locations or single-day collection events. To find out recycling opportunities in your community, visit www.scdhec.gov/recycleheresc. Before buying tires, ask if the retailer will accept the old tires for recycling.

NOTE: There is a $2 fee on each tire you purchase with a U.S. Department of Transportation number. The fee provides grant funding to local governments to manage unwanted tires. South Carolina has no other fee associated with the sale of tires. Retailers my charge additional environmental fees as a matter of company policy.


Unwanted Mail

QUESTION: Can I recycle unwanted mail? 

ANSWER: Most unwanted mail can be recycled. This includes newspaper inserts, glossy postcards, catalogues and other advertisements.

Credit-card applications and other unwanted mail containing any personal information should be shredded. Most local government programs do not accept shredded paper – so you will have to dispose of it. Some programs, however, offer single-day shredding events where it can be recycled. To learn more about what is offered in your community, visit www.scdhec.gov/recycleheresc.

QUESTION: How do I stop unwanted mail? 

ANSWER: Stopping unwanted mail not only reduces the amount of waste generated at home, but also helps prevent identity theft. Click on the postcard to find out who to contact to reduce the amount of unwanted mail you get at home.