Recycle More — spring cleaning gets a climate-friendly boost | Home and Garden

Recycle More, Napa Recycling and Waste Services’ free curbside pick-up program, makes spring cleaning easier and more environmentally responsible too.

Kendra Bruno, a specialist with the city of Napa’s Waste Prevention explained the details of the “Recycle More” programs available.

“These programs offer free curbside pick up of specific items by a special truck on your day of service. These services are not part of your normal weekly pick up of your black, blue and brown or green bins,” 

You have to go online to naparecycling.com, or call, 707-255-5200, in advance of your day of service to request a special pick-up, which is needed to plan the route for the Recycle More trucks.

What can they pick up? The list is lengthy and growing. Bruno said, “One program, formerly known as ‘Anything with a Cord,’ offers free curbside pick up of electronic waste, such as computers, battery-operated devices like rechargeable flashlights that no longer hold a charge and appliances including refrigerators, stoves and hot water heaters.”

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She continued, “I have a funny story related to this service. We had to replace a clothes washer destroyed by a rat. When we purchased a new washer, we were offered an appliance removal service by the appliance dealer for a fee of $25. I declined that offer because I knew NRWS would pick it up at our curbside for free.”

Once those items are picked up, the recycling process begins. For example, e-waste is destined to be processed at certified centers including one in Fresno, California. “The e-waste is processed in huge machines that have highly intelligent calibrations,” Bruno said. “They will separate the microchips, motherboards and other components with no damage allowing for their reuse.

“As for the metal parts of any e-waste or appliance, it is either up or down-cycled for a new use or reuse.”

One item that is a cross between e-waste and household textiles is an electric blanket. The electrical cording is pulled out and sent off to the appropriate recycling site. The fabric is sorted based on its quality and reused in any number of products including insulation and rags. Being a hybrid item, electric blankets need to be labeled and bagged up separately from any other textile or clothing item.

Other accepted household textiles for curbside pick up include drapery, bedding and linens. All textiles, clothing and shoes must be placed in bags, otherwise, they will not be picked up. They are sorted and processed in a similar manner as the electric blankets. “If they are in good condition, they are bundled and sold to second-hand or thrift stores for resale,” Bruno said.

Up to four bulky items, such as couches, can be picked up curbside, but for these, there is an additional fee, Bruno said. “Unfortunately, these products end up in the landfill. An alternative would be posting the bulky item on various websites, such as freecycle.org, to find a new home for that product. ‘Neighborhood’ and Next Door’ are also great resources.”

Complimentary curbside pick-ups also include household batteries, used cooking oil and motor oil as well as oil filters. The pick-up for batteries, placed in clear plastic bags, must be a part of pick-ups for other items. The Recycle More truck will not stop at your curbside for just a bag of household batteries. When recycled, the used batteries eventually become new batteries.

The oils and filters also have special requirements for pick-up Bruno explained, “You need to sign up in advance and request special containers for both types of oil.”  The containers (or a bag for the filter) will be dropped off. “The motor oil is either recycled or repurposed into a new use. As for the cooking oil, it is recycled for fuel regeneration at facilities, such as the huge collection site in Oakland. The recycled cooking oil is used for energy production.”

Soon another household item will be picked up for free at your curbside — fluorescent bulbs and tubes, 4-feet or shorter in length. “We are currently working out the details, such as whether or not special boxes will be needed,” Bruno said. “However, in the meantime, there are special drop-off locations for the fluorescent light bulbs and tubes including Napa Electric.”

Bruno also listed other local drop-off sites for household batteries, motor oil and filters as well as paint. “For the batteries, ACE hardware stores, OSH and Napa Valley Roasters are just a few of those sites. For used motor oil and filters, there are quite a few locations in the area. Another household hazardous product, paint, is accepted at Sherwin-Williams and Kelly Moore stores. But, there is a limit to the amount of paint accepted as it depends upon the capacity of each drop-off location.”

A one-stop drop-off location is the household hazardous waste facility on Devlin Road. On Fridays and Saturdays from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m., you can drop off paints, solvents, pesticides and more. Check their website for the list of accepted chemicals and items.

Bruno said, “You can also drop off or pick up useable household chemicals at our Reuse Locker,” Bruno said. “Also at the Devlin Road facility is the Reuse and Recycle Center where you can purchase useable building materials, lawn and garden products, even furniture and sinks for a dollar or two.” The available inventory depends upon what has been dropped off or recycled. The center has been closed due to the pandemic. To check whether or not it is open and possible operation hours, call 707-258-9018.

While completing your thorough spring cleaning you may run across some old and unused prescription and over-the-counter medications. Bruno said, “A new state law  will be requiring any retail location with a pharmacy, such as Safeway, to be a drop-off location for proper disposal of these products.” She recommended contacting Stephanie Turnipseed at the Napa Sanitation District office, 707-258-6002, for more information on this program.

While all the above are specialty items requiring specific handling or pick up and drop-offs, the three weekly service bins are of importance, too. Beginning with the black tote, its contents, such as soft plastics – air pillow packaging, squeezable personal care and condiment plastic containers, are destined for landfill. Everything else needs to be recycled, repurposed or reused.

“Why do landfills exist?” Bruno asked, “Why pay for burying single-use, never-to-be-used again products in the ground? Landfills don’t make sense and negatively impact our environment and finite natural resources.”

Using the blue recycling and brown or green yard waste and compostables bins can reduce these negative impacts, she said, as long as you follow some basic guidelines for bin use. For example, in the recycle bin, do not throw in garden hoses and cables as they create a huge tangled mess in the recycling machinery. It takes days to get the system cleared and back online. Bruno said. “However, there is one new item accepted in the blue bin — shredded paper. It has to be bagged up in clear plastic bags so the crew can see it is recyclable materials, not a landfill item.”

The compost bin can make the biggest and most positive impact. “Granted it does have that ‘ick factor’ as it can be messy,” Bruno said. “But it has the greatest benefit. In addition to yard waste, put all of your food scraps and food-soiled papers, such as paper food wrappers and pizza boxes, in that bin. At the facility, we compost those materials for 60 days.”

For the first 15 of those days, the materials are heated in an active composting process. This composting process produces carbon dioxide not the environmentally damaging methane that billows from landfills.

Bruno said, “Composting is the best way of closing the loop of these products. It has a huge global and local impact.”

But why should someone use the “Recycle More” and the weekly recycling and composting programs? Bruno gave a dollar and cents answer. “These services are included in the price of your monthly bill.”

She concluded, “When in doubt, find out. Go to our website, naparecycling.com, to find out how to handle a product. I would be happy to help. Customers can email me their questions at [email protected]