DEEP: What Do I Do With…?

Environment Friendly Living

“One person’s trash is another person’s treasure”.

~ Unknown

There are many ways to reuse or recycle items that are no longer of use to us in our homes. As residents of Connecticut, reusing or recycling these items can reduce the amount and toxicity of the garbage that is disposed in our state.

Some alternatives to disposal that you should think about include:

Fix it!

Can your item be


? If so, you will not have anything to dispose of, and you could save on replacement costs.

Give it away!

If the item you have is still usable, chances are that there is someone else that could use it. Before throwing it away, check with friends, relatives, and neighbors to see if they would like to have it. Consider listing items on an Internet site such as


, and


, or in free classified ads and circulars. Or, just put it on your curb on a nice day with a sign on it saying “free.”

Donate it!

Many charities are happy to take items such as consumer electronics, furniture, rugs, etc.  Before throwing these kinds of items away, check with your local Goodwill, Salvation Army, church,

reuse store

, or other charities to see what items they may be willing to take. Some organizations will even schedule free pickups of donated items.

Sell it!

Hold a tag sale, or take your item(s) to a local flea market (look in your local newspaper for times and locations in your area). Or, list your item on an Internet site like




, or other similar sites. You might be surprised to find that that an old item you think is a piece of junk is just what some collector is looking for!

None of these ideas work for your item? Then read on for assistance on proper disposal or recycling:





















Air Conditioners

Aerosol Cans


Animal Carcasses

Animal Waste/Pet Waste



Art Supplies


Ash (Wood, Charcoal, Coal)

Automobiles / Vehicles


Boat Shrink-Wrap

Books and Textbooks

Bottles & Cans

Bottle Caps



Carpets & Rugs

Cell Phones

Clean Brick, Rock, Ceramics, Concrete, or Asphalt

Clean Wood (Brush, Stumps, Logs)

Cleaning Products

Clothing, Shoes and Other Textiles

Compact Fluorescent Lamps (CFL’s)

Construction and Demolition Debris

Consumer Electronics (E-waste)

Cork (From Wine Bottles)


Dead Animals/Roadkill




Fats, Oils & Grease (FOG)

Fire Extinguishers


Fishing Line/Monofilament

Fluorescent Light Bulbs

Food Scraps

Gasoline and Other Old Fuels

Grass Clippings

Grease & Vegetable Oils

Hearing Aids

Holiday String Lighting

Household Hazardous Waste

Ink Cartridges

Lead-Based Paint


Light Bulbs


Marine Flares


Medical/Infectious Waste

Medical Supplies & Equipment

Mercury-Containing Products

Motor Oil & Filters

Nursery Pots and Trays (horticultural)

Oversized Items (Mattresses, Furniture, Rugs, etc.)

Packing Peanuts (Styrofoam Pellets)



Pet Waste (Feces)

Phone Books

Photo-Chemical Waste

Plastic Bottle Caps

Plastic Containers #3 thru #7

Plastic Bags/Plastic Film

Prescription Medicine and Over-the-Counter (OTC) Products

Propane Tanks

Railroad Ties/Crossties

Rechargeable Batteries

Rugs & Carpets

Satellite Dishes

Sharps (Needles/Syringes)

Shoes & Sneakers

Shredded Paper

Smoke Detectors



Thermometers & Thermostats


Toner Cartridges

Underground Storage Tanks

Video Cassettes (VHS), CD’s, DVD’s, Old Film

Water Filters for Drinking Water Pitchers and Faucets

Wrappers (Snack, Chip, Candy & Cookie)

Yoga Mats


Air conditioners are appliances that may contain ozone depleting substances, including refrigerants and/or insulating foams that can be released if disposed of improperly.  Older air conditioners may contain a harmful refrigerant called Freon.  Air conditioners may also contain other toxic chemicals, such as mercury.

It is important to find an appliance recycling program or technician to remove the refrigerant. Do not attempt to remove refrigerant or compressors yourself. Improperly handled refrigerant may result in physical harm. Contact your local
municipal recycling coordinator
to learn how to properly dispose of your air conditioner. Some utility companies offer rebate programs when you upgrade to a more energy efficient air cooling system, contact your local utility company to see if they will accept your old air conditioner for proper disposal.

Aerosol cans are pressurized canisters that house everything from cleaning supplies and air fresheners to hygiene products and paints. The contents of the can determine whether it is recyclable or hazardous materials. If the can contains paints or toxic materials the can itself, including its contents, need to be disposed of at a household hazardous waste collection event or facility. Check the
for an event near you.

Some communities are starting to collect non-hazardous aerosol cans (from deodorant, air fresheners, etc.) with bottles and cans for recycling. However, not all communities do so. Please contact your local
municipal recycling coordinator
to find out.

Do not put ammunition in the trash! People who want to dispose of old or excess ammunition should call their local police/public safety department or
state police
to surrender the ammunition. It will either be used by the department or disposed of properly.

Antifreeze can pollute groundwater, surface water and drinking water supplies if dumped, spilled or leaked, and is harmful to pets, marine and aquatic life. Antifreeze should be brought to a household hazardous waste collection event or facility. Check the
for an event near you. Guidance for
Auto Centers
. Guidance for

Many of the appliances we use every day contain man-made chemicals that destroy the ozone layer – our planet’s natural protection against the sun’s harmful ultra-violet radiation. Refrigerators, window and car air conditioners, and dehumidifiers rely on refrigerants that contain ozone-depleting chemicals called chlorofluorocarbons (CFCs) and hydrochlorofluorocarbons (HCFCs), under various trade names that contain the word “Freon.”

If not disposed of properly, these common household items can release these refrigerants into the atmosphere.

For proper disposal:

  • Speak with your

    municipal recycling contact person

    to learn how to dispose of appliances safely in your community.
  • Ask your local home appliance retailers about their refrigerator and home appliance collection programs or about the availability of refrigerant-recovery services. Sometimes, the store from which you buy a new large appliance will take back the old one.
  • Contact your

    local utility company

    about appliance recycling programs.

  • If the appliance is still in good working order, consider donating it to a local charity or family in need.

  • EPA’s Responsible Appliance Disposal Program

    provides additional information about proper disposal of appliances and a list of partnering utilities, retail stores and manufacturers that collect used refrigerators, freezers, window air conditioning units and dehumidifier for proper recovery and disposal.

Commonly used paints, like oil, acrylic and watercolor, may contain toxic heavy metals such as cadmium, chromium, and lead. First consider if the art supplies can still be used for their intended purpose. Consider donating reusable art supplies to art schools or creative art reuse centers. If the supplies are old and not reusable, determine if they contain toxic materials.

Toxic and hazardous materials including oil paints or solvents (such as turpentine or mineral spirits) should be brought to a household hazardous waste collection or facility. Check the


for an event near you.

Asbestos-containing materials (“ACM”) in good condition should be left alone. There is no danger unless fibers are released and inhaled into the lungs. Check material regularly if you suspect it may contain asbestos. Don’t touch it, but look for signs of wear or damage such as tears, abrasions or water damage. If the material is damaged or becomes damaged, the Connecticut Department of Public Health (DPH) recommends that a licensed asbestos contractor be contacted to abate the material. Abatement activities may involve repair, enclosure, encapsulation or removal of the material.

Connecticut law does not allow any person to discard more than 1 cubic foot of ACM in the trash at any one time. Contact a hauler to transport the ACM to an approved disposal site.

Currently, the only facility accepting ACM in Connecticut is the

RED Technologies, LLC

facility in Portland, CT.

For more on asbestos including general information and lists of licensed asbestos consultants and abatement contractors, see the

DPH’s Asbestos Program Website

.  See also DEEP’s webpage on

Construction & Demolition Health & Safety Requirements You Should Know About


Ash (wood ash, fireplace ash, charcoal grill ash, and coal ash)

Wood ash and ash from the fireplace (assuming you didn’t burn treated or painted wood) can be used in your compost pile (very small amount), used in the winter to help gain traction against ice and snow, as an insect repellant (sprinkle small amounts around the perimeter of your garden to deter slugs and snails), spot remover on wood furniture (make a paste with water, rub over rings left by water glasses – follow up with furniture polish) or applied to your soil if you need to raise the pH.

Treated or painted/stained wood should not be burned

, as it emits toxins into the air and results in contaminated ash.

Spreading the ashes over your lawn and garden

may or may not be

the best means of disposal. Wood ash is somewhat beneficial to the soil because it contains essential plant nutrients. Depending on the type of wood, the ash may contain five to eight percent potash, one percent phosphate and trace amounts of micro-nutrients such as iron, manganese, boron, copper and zinc. See the

University of Connecticut webpage

on the use of wood ash in gardens.

If you heat your home with coal, you are creating coal ash.

Coal ash

should not be used on any plant crop that you plan to eat – do not place coal ash in your compost or your vegetable garden. This ash should be put in a bag and disposed of with your trash.  Be aware that coals from ash can be ‘live’ and continue to burn for as long as 4-6 weeks after they’ve been removed from the stove.

Ash from charcoal grills

, where you’ve used charcoal briquettes with or without lighter fluid should not be used in your compost or garden. This ash should be put in a bag and disposed of with your trash.

What about

ash from manufactured logs and pellets

? Usually manufactured logs and pellets are made from wood waste, sawdust and waxes. Make sure you know if the these products contain natural adhesives (natural waxes and oils) vs. petroleum based products. Ash from logs and pellets with petroleum based products or unknown ingredients should not be applied to your garden, soil or compost. If you’re not sure, contact the manufacturer directly, or throw it out in the trash.

Automobiles / Vehicles

Any number of junk yards and salvage companies will take your old vehicles for recycling or parts.  But why not consider donating your vehicle to charity?  You will be helping a cause and also receiving a tax deduction for your gift.  There are hundreds of charities that participate in vehicle donation programs, and many take not only cars, but also trucks, boats, RV’s, motorcycles, etc.  If you have a favorite charity, try calling them directly first to see if they are interested in your vehicle.  Many of them work with companies that will tow your donated vehicle for free.  If you want to search for charities, both in CT and beyond, visit some of the organizations that manage these donation programs on behalf of the charities.  These include, but are not limited to:

Wheels for Wishes


Cars to Cure Breast Cancer






Kars 4 Kids





, and

Donate for Charity

.  Another resource is

Infoline 2-1-1

, an integrated system of help via the telephone accessed toll-free from anywhere in Connecticut by simply dialing 2-1-1. It operates 24 hours a day, 365 days a year and does have information about vehicle donation.

There are many different types of batteries, and the environmental concerns and disposal options may vary for each. Please read through the following sections carefully to determine the type of battery you have and how to properly dispose of it. In addition, Call2Recycle offers
10 easy habits
that will extend the life of your phone or tablet batteries. You can read more about managing
Household Batteries
Rechargeable Batteries
on our website.

Automotive Batteries (Lead-Acid Batteries)

Lead-acid batteries may not be disposed of in the trash, buried, or thrown in wetlands or waterways. These batteries contain a corrosive and toxic electrolyte that is very harmful to the environment.

Connecticut law

requires consumers to return their lead-acid auto batteries for recycling, and requires retailers of these batteries to accept a used battery for each battery they sell. Retail stores that sell batteries are required to accept up to three batteries from a customer that is


purchasing a new battery.  In addition, some towns accept lead-acid auto batteries at their local transfer station. To find out if this service is available in your area, call your

local recycling coordinator


Rechargeable Batteries

Rechargeable batteries (

learn more

) are commonly found in cordless phones, power tools, portable electronics and cell phones. They include nickel cadmium, nickel metal hydride, small sealed lead acid and lithium ion batteries. All rechargeable batteries can be recycled at participating retail collection points including most

Radio Shack



Stores. For information on where to recycle nickel cadmium batteries in your area, call 1-877-2-RECYCLE or online at


to find a local drop-off site.

Non-Rechargeable Household Batteries (Alkaline and Zinc Carbon Batteries)

If you have non-rechargeable AAA, AA, C or D batteries, then they are most likely alkaline and zinc carbon batteries (

learn more

).  These batteries are not hazardous and can be disposed in the regular trash.  However, if recycling is available, please recycle them.  Most community household hazardous waste (HHW) collection events will not accept alkaline and zinc carbon batteries.  To find out if your local recycling or HHW program accepts them, call your

local recycling coordinator

, or check the DEEP’s

HHW web page

for the schedule.  Also,


, a metals reclamation facility in Pennsylvania, recycles alkaline and zinc carbon batteries. Call (724) 758-2800 for more information.

Watch or Button Batteries (Silver Oxide Batteries)

Silver oxide batteries are hazardous when put in the regular trash.  Many jewelry and watch stores will recycle the silver oxide battery when you bring your watch in to have the battery replaced. If not, please bring your silver oxide batteries to your next household hazardous waste (HHW) collection. To find out about HHW services in your area, call your

local recycling coordinator

, or check the DEEP’s

HHW web page

for the schedule.

Camera and Portable Electronic Device Batteries (Lithium Batteries)

There are lithium batteries that are button-size, as well as those that look like regular household batteries.  The latter type will say “lithium” on the battery.  Button lithium batteries are commonly found in cameras and other portable electronic devices, such as PDA’s, watches, thermometers, calculators and in remote car locks.  Any type of lithium battery should not be put in the trash.  Please bring lithium batteries to a household hazardous waste (HHW) collection.  To find out about HHW services in your area, call your

local recycling coordinator

, or check the DEEP’s

HHW web page

for the schedule.

Zinc-Air Batteries

Commonly used in hearing aids, the best management option is to bring such batteries to a household hazardous waste (HHW) collection. To find out about HHW services in your area, call your

local recycling coordinator

, or check the DEEP’s

HHW web page

for the schedule.  There is currently limited recycling of zinc-air batteries available.


, a metals reclamation facility in Pennsylvania may recycle them. Call (724) 758-2800 for more information.

State law requires all towns in Connecticut to provide for the recycling of glass and metal food and beverage containers, and plastic containers with resin codes #1 and #2.  Each Connecticut town has a recycling ordinance in place to address proper handling of these and other recyclables. Check with your

town or city

hall for the proper handling of bottles and cans. At a minimum, containers should be rinsed before being placed in the appropriate recycling receptacle. 5-cent deposit cans and bottles covered under the

CT Bottle Bill

may be returned to the store for


, or consider donating nickel-deposit containers to local civic organization fund-raisers.

Bottle Caps

See ”

Plastic Bottle Caps


See ”


Car Seats

Most car seats expire after 6 years from the date of manufacture. In addition the older seats not having the latest in safety standards, materials wear down over time, including the rigid plastic frame, which become less safe to use. Seats are labeled with a date of manufacture and expiration date.  If you cannot find it, call the manufacturer and ask them.  If you have an expired car seat,

the fabric cover & padding can usually be separated from the plastic frame for washing, so both the textile and rigid plastic parts of the seat should be recyclable. Some

municipal recycling programs will accept the textile portion and the rigid plastic material separately for recycling.  Call your

municipal recycling coordinator


Toys R Us coordinates

an annual program that accepts used car seats, cribs, bassinets, strollers, high chairs and more.

In past years, the

Great Trade-in Event

was coordinated in February.

Carpets & Rugs

If your carpets and rugs are in good reusable condition, consider donating them to a local non-profit thrift shop or a

building materials reuse center

. Currently there are no companies in CT that accept carpets or rugs for recycling. Old, dirty and used carpets are considered ‘bulky waste’ in some communities and ‘municipal solid waste’ in others. Contact your local

municipal recycling coordinator

or department of public works to learn how your community disposes of old used carpets.

Cell Phones

Certain components of old cellular phones such as printed wiring boards, batteries and liquid crystal displays can pose a threat to the environment if improperly disposed of.  If your cellular phone is in working condition, you may want to donate it to a growing number of programs that provide free phones to the elderly or potential victims of domestic violence.  Call your town hall to find out if your town either sponsors such a program or is aware of a non-profit in your area that does so. When purchasing a new phone ask your cellular service provider if they will take your old phone for recycling.

Cell phones and used cell phone batteries can be recycled through the

Call2Recycle Program

. Participating retail outlets include Wal-Mart, Radio Shack, Circuit City and Home Depot. To learn more or to find a location to recycle your phone or battery, you may also call 1-877-2-RECYCLE (1.877.273.2925).

Clean brick, rock, ceramics, concrete, and asphalt paving fragments, which are virtually inert and pose neither a fire threat nor a pollution threat to ground or surface water, are considered clean fill and do not require disposal in a solid waste facility. There are some

aggregate recycling facilities

in Connecticut.  If these materials are contaminated, they must be treated as bulky waste and should be disposed of at a

permitted solid waste disposal facility


Brush, stumps and logs should preferably be recycled into wood mulch or firewood. If you do not have or cannot rent the equipment to do this yourself, check with your local

town or city

hall to see if they accept clean wood at the recycling center or transfer station. When hiring a contractor to do land clearing, be sure to include removal of materials in the contract, unless you want the wood for your own use. There are several private

wood recycling facilities and services

in Connecticut. If disposal is the only option, land-clearing debris is considered bulky waste, and may be disposed of at any

permitted solid waste disposal facility

that accepts bulky waste, such as at a resource recovery facility (RRF), solid waste landfill, or transfer station. You may not bury land-clearing debris on site, or at another location that is not a permitted solid waste disposal area.

Hazardous chemicals can often be found in these common household products: drain cleaners, floor-care products, oven cleaners, window sprays, bathroom cleaners, furniture and metal polishes, pesticides, and laundry products. When you shop for cleaning products, you can usually avoid these chemicals by reading the labels. Those labeled ”


or ”


are typically the most hazardous and should be avoided. Others are labeled ”


or ”


because they are skin or eye irritants and they may or may not be hazardous.  Always read the instructions for proper use.

Disposal Options:

Unwanted or leftover hazardous products should


be disposed of in the trash, flushed down the toilet or sink drains, nor should they be poured into storm drains or onto the ground. If you have any hazardous products in your home that you need to dispose of, bring them to a local

household hazardous waste collection

. See the section below on

“household hazardous waste”

for more information.


Most cleaning products have environmentally friendly alternatives that are effective and much safer for people, pets, and the natural world. Some are available in stores, and these products will typically have all their ingredients listed. You can also choose to make your own cleaners, which are just as effective and usually much less expensive. For some alternatives, see

Household Alternatives for Reducing Toxic Products in Your Home


Clothing, Shoes, and Other Textiles

Textile recycling is more than just clothes! Besides clothing, such as shirts, pants, dresses and shorts – textiles include bedding, backpacks, curtains, towels, stuffed animals, gloves, belts, ties, purses, handbags, shoes, slippers, undergarments and even holey socks!  Many organizations will accept textiles that you may consider unwearable, like holey socks or ripped t-shirts, and recycle them to make other products such as wiping rags, car seat and pillow stuffing, and household insulation.  Visit our

Textiles Reuse & Recycling

web page for more information – Don’t judge – Just donate!


(from wine bottles)

Corks can be reused in


and art projects – consider donating to schools, daycare centers or art studios. You can also use them as mulch in the garden, or grind them up and use in potting soil or as drainage medium in plant pots.  Efforts to collect corks for recycling are increasing – although there are no known projects in Connecticut.

Yemm & Hart

, a company in Missouri is collecting wine cork stoppers (no plastic) with the goal of converting them into a useful self sustaining product. For more information contact Yemm & Hart Ltd. on-line

or by phone at 573-783-5434.

Another option is


, a project collecting natural corks (no plastic) with a recycling market based in Portugal. ReCORK America, located in California, lists Public Drop-off Locations in New Jersey, New York, Maine, and Pennsylvania, or you can ship directly to them.

Cork ReHarvest

, a program of the non-profit Cork Forest Conservation Alliance, partners with grocery stores, wine and bottle shops, winery tasting rooms, food and beverage and hospitality industries to collect cork at restaurants, hotels, wine bars, convention and performing arts centers. Drop-off locations in CT and surrounding states are listed.


, located in New Jersey, collects plastic wine corks and can be contacted on line or by phone at 609-393-4252. TerraCycle pays you for shipping and for each item you send. They also sell products made from the corks and an assortment of items they buy directly from the public.

Planning before your construction or remodeling project begins can reduce waste and increase the ability to divert materials for reuse and recycling! Connecticut has a number of

reuse centers

for building materials that accept leftover or unused construction materials. Many materials can also be recycled including unused/scrap wallboard/gypsum board, CLEAN wood scraps (free from paint, not old furniture wood), asphalt shingles, pallets, and corrugated cardboard. Work with your hauler to create a successful waste diversion program.  Wood or wallboard that has paint or other contaminants should be disposed in the trash.

During demolition or deconstruction, it is important to recognize building waste may be contaminated with asbestos, lead-based paint, or other materials that may require special disposal. Before starting a demolition project, be sure to have the structure inspected by qualified professionals for the presence of asbestos, lead-based paint, mercury-containing lighting and equipment, and other hazardous materials, and ensure that these are removed, as necessary, to allow the remaining waste to be


of as regular construction and demolition (C&D) waste. For more information on the environmental issues involved with demolition, see

Renovation & Demolition: Environmental, Health & Safety Requirements You Should Know About


Deconstruction activities work to recover cabinetry, decorative molding, doors, windows, flooring, and more before demolition. Although this takes planning efforts, it can save money by avoiding disposal costs and items can be sold, or donated to a community building materials

reuse center


If you are a contractor visit our page on

Information Resources for Contractors in the Construction Trades


If you are a homeowner, learn more about

green building


Consumer electronics include items such as computers, monitors, televisions, IPods, PDA’s, pagers, VCRs, radios, telephones and other small electronic devices. Items that are in good working order can be donated to charities such as

Goodwill Industries


Salvation Army

, or can be offered on




. Items that are no longer useful should be recycled at a local electronics collection.

There are several options for recycling consumer electronics. Some municipalities offer

drop-off locations

at their recycling center or transfer station. Other towns participate in regional one-day collections.

Check with your

local recycling coordinator

for more information.



Best Buy

stores offer recycling of computers, peripherals and other electronics, no matter where you purchased them.  Manufacturers, such as






, and


all have consumer take-back recycling programs.  The

Electronics TakeBack Coalition

maintains a website that lists all the take-back programs in the US.

An electronics recycling law t

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