Thursday, January 26, 2012

The 1,2,3s….and 4,5,6 and 7s of Plastics and Recycling in DC

Everyone’s seen those numbers on plastic packaging, but until recently, I really didn’t know what they meant.  Here’s the 411 in a nutshell. 

The numbers you’ll see range from 1 to 7 and refers to the type of plastic that’s been used to make that product. For you, it’s also a shorthand for potential health risk and the recycle-ability of the product. Fortunately, in DC, plastics of all numbers EXCEPT PLASTIC#6 (Styrofoam) are recyclable. Plastics#6 (Styrofoam) and plastics of any number that are made into food (saran) wrap, “clamshells”, motor oil or pesticide containers aren’t recyclable in DC.

A few more details on each of the plastics are provided below:
  • Plastic #1, polyethylene terephtalate, is also known as PETE or PET.  Think soda bottles. It’s considered safe but porous, so it's best not to reuse these containers. Plastic#1 is recyclable in DC.
  • Plastic #2 is high density polyethylene, or HDPE. Think milk jugs. It’s considered safe and is recyclable in DC.
  • Plastic #3 is polyvinyl chloride (PVC).  Goods include food wrap, cooking oil bottles, and plumbing pipes. It’s not considered safe to cook food in or near it. DC recycles Plastic #3.
  • Plastic #4 is low density polyethylene (LDPE). Think grocery bags, ziplocks, some food wraps, squeezable bottles, and bread bags. It’s considered safe. Plastic#4 is recyclable in DC.
  • Plastic #5 is polypropylene and used for yogurt cups other wide-necked containers as well as medicine, ketchup, and syrup bottles, and straws. Plastic#5 is safe and is recyclable in DC.
  • Plastic #6 is polystyrene, or Styrofoam. There’s some evidence that Plastic#6 leaches potentially toxic chemicals, especially when heated. Plastic#6 is not recyclable in DC.
  • Plastic #7 is essentially “what's not plastic 1-6” including polycarbonate plastics and BPA. Common products include iPods, computer cases as well as some baby bottles and food storage containers. Plastic#7 is also used for milk/soda crates, plastic buckets with metal handles, plastic laundry baskets, plastic lawn furniture, plastic totes, plastic drums, plastic coolers, plastic flower pots, plastic drinking cups/glasses, plastic 5-gallon water bottles, plastic pallets, and plastic toys and all of these are recyclable in DC. 
I used this article to write this post.  It's a great resource for the health benefits of the various plastics. 

Sunday, January 15, 2012

DC Government Posts Hazardous Waste Disposal 2012 Calendar!

Hey Folks, the DC Government has posted Hazardous Waste/E-cycling disposal dates for 2012 at the Ft. Totten Transfer Station, 4900 John F. McCormack Road, NE.  You’ll (very likely) need a DC Driver’s License that does not have an apartment address to get into the facility.  Below, you’ll find a list of acceptable items and a calendar can be found below that.  Send an email out to friends and neighbors and take turns going up to the facility every month or so.  There’s usually not a long line and you’ll be in and out before you know it!  More information on the program can be found at:

Acceptable Hazardous Waste
Acceptable E-Cycling
Asbestos tile
Cleaning chemicals
Drain openers
Fluorescent light bulbs
Furniture stripper
Lighter fluid
Mercury thermometers and mercury containing devices
Moth balls
Motor oil
Roofing tar
Transmission fluids
Windshield wiper and
Brake fluids
Wood preservatives
Audio/visual equipment
Audio cassettes
CD Rom drives CDs/DVDs
Cell Phones
Computers and monitors
Connectors / Cords / Wire
Copy machines
Fax machines
Floppy drives Hard drives
Memory chips
Network / Video / Sound cards
Power supplies
Scrap computer plastic 
Scrap computer metal
Tape drives
VCR tapes
Video games & Software

2012 DC Hazardous Waste/E-Cycling Dates
·         January 5
·         February 2
·         March 1
·         April 5
·         May 3
·         May 31
·         July 5
·         August 2
·         August 31
·         October 4
·         November 1
·         November 30
·         January 3, 2013
Saturdays (8am-3pm)
·         January 7
·         February 4
·         March 3
·         April 7
·         May 5
·         June 2
·         July 7
·         August 4
·         September 1
·         October 6
·         November 3
·         December 1
·         January 5, 2013

Monday, January 2, 2012

What to do with all that holiday stuff?

 The DC Government seems to still be hanging on to 2011 as there's not much information about Christmas tree or hazardous waste disposal for 2012 out there yet.  It seems that in DC, free curbside pick-up of Christmas trees will run January 3-14, 2012. After January 14, trees are not recycled but can be picked up with trash on regular delivery days as space in the trucks allows. Find details at This website has info on Christmas tree recycling in MD and VA.
As for wreathes, why not throw them on your yard and let them decompose over the next month or so? You can also take them off the wire, and throw the branches into the Christmas tree pile...or better yet, into your fireplace.

Meanwhile, St. Jude's Ranch for Children has a greeting card recycling program. They operate year round, so consider starting a card recycling program at work and/or with your
friends.  A couple of specifics:
  • They accept all types of greeting cards, including Christmas cards.
  • You need only send the card front (please ensure the back side is clear of any writing, etc.).
  • No Hallmark, Disney or American Greeting cards, please.
  • 5″ x 7″ size or smaller is preferred.
You can also BUY cards for all occasions from these same folks!

Mail donations to :
St. Jude’s Ranch for Children
Recycled Card Program
100 St. Jude’s Street
Boulder City, NV 89005