General Recycling Information
→ For a collective, more in-depth look at recycling for your home, office, or community, go to: http://www.recycleok.org/okra/wp-content/uploads/2012/04/Community-Recycling-Toolkit-2008-10-29.pdf
Where is the nearest recycling center?
I’ve heard that recycling really doesn’t help the environment. Is this true?
How important is recycling?
What is a Bottle Bill?
What is “Close-the-Loop,” “Closed-Loop Recycling,” or “Cradle-to-Cradle”?
What is the difference between “pre-consumer” and “post-consumer” recycled content?
What is a mail-back (or mail-in) program?
What items are recyclable?
What about Styrofoam (expanded/foamed polystyrene, or EPS)? It’s labeled plastic recycle symbol #6, so it’s recyclable, right?
What about plastic bags? It’s labeled plastic recycle symbol #2, so it’s recyclable, right?
A: Check out this map (www.deq.state.ok.us/LPDnew/recyclers/countymap.htm)! Click on your county and the registered recycling centers are listed. It also states what types of recyclables the center will take. Another comprehensive site is www.deq.state.ok.us/lpdnew/Recyclingindex.htm.
You can also see where the nearest PepsiCo Dream Machine recycling kiosk (for beverage containers) is located: www.dreammachinelocator.com. Recycle with the Dream Machine and collect points to earn free things! Or use the “find a bin” feature on www.paperretriever.com to find the nearest paper recycling bin.
You can also check out 1800recycling.com to locate the nearest recycling center for various materials.
A: No! This has, for some reason, been a debate. The short version is that using already mined or harvested materials is cheaper and much more energy efficient than extracting virgin materials for production. Mining new materials is a process with a huge environmental cost, even if this cost has not been translated into dollars. However, these resources play an invaluable role in the balance of our ecosystems that must be protected. Not only that, but waste is kept out of landfills because of recycling.(Courtesy of www.shikobarecycling.com.)
Manufacturing materials from recycled feedstock not only saves valuable resources, but energy and water as well. For more information on expelling myths about recycling, see the National Recycling Coalition’s “Defending Recycling “ recycleok.org/defending-recycling.php.
A: The Solid Waste Management Hierarchy puts Recycling third after Reduce and Reuse. The key is to reduce the amount of waste you produce (e.g. using a reusable shopping bag instead of getting disposable plastic bags every time you shop), then reuse materials when able (e.g. writing on both sides of the paper or using a reusable water bottle), and then recycle once every possible use for that item has been taken into account. For a more information on waste reduction, visit www.kab.org/site/PageServer?pagename=Focus_Waste_reduction and this OKRA webpage: recycleok.org/get-informed.php.
Take a look at these facts about recycling… they might astonish you!
- Recycling a four-foot stack of paper saves a tree.
- The U.S. EPA estimates that paper accounts for nearly 40% of waste in landfills.
- Nearly 3.7 million tons of copy paper are used annually in the United States alone. That’s over 700 trillion sheets.
- If every American recycled his or her newspaper just one day a week, we would save about 36 million trees a year.
- Recycled Paper Production uses 80% less water, 65% less energy, and produces 95% less air pollution than virgin paper production.
- When making cans, using recycled aluminum requires 96% less energy than manufacturing new aluminum from its virgin material, bauxite.
- Recycling one aluminum can saves enough energy to run a TV for three hours or a laptop computer for four hours — or the equivalent of a half a gallon of gasoline.
- An aluminum can that is thrown away will not begin to decompose until about 500 years from now!
- We use over 80,000,000,000 aluminum soda cans every year.
- The U.S. is the #1 trash-producing country in the world at 1,609 pounds per person per year. This means that 5% of the world’s people generate 40% of the world’s waste.
- Americans use 2,500,000 plastic bottles every hour! Most of them are thrown away!
- Plastic bags and other plastic garbage thrown into the ocean kill as many as 1,000,000 sea creatures every year!
So the short answer is recycling is very important, but not as important as reducing and reusing first. Some materials can only be recycled once or twice before they are landfilled or incinerated, so the best route is to reduce consumption before it becomes waste.
A: The term “bottle bill” is actually another way of saying “container deposit law.” A container deposit law requires a minimum refundable deposit on beer, soft drink and other beverage containers in order to ensure a high rate of recycling or reuse. For more general information on bottle bills, visit www.bottlebill.org and www.container-recycling.org.
Oklahoma has considered container deposit legislation that would help to encourage recycling. For more information on this legislation, visit www.bottlebill.org/legislation/campaigns/oklahomac.htm.
For more information on America’s consumption of beverage bottles, see this PDF: www.container-recycling.org/assets/pdfs/GoodStuffWorldwatch%20Report-Beverages.pdf.
A: Close-the-Loop is the name of the recycling cycle – it does not end with tossing recyclable items into a bin. In order for recycling to be fully effective, new items need to be made out of the recycled materials and then bought by consumers. Purchasing items made with recycled content creates a demand for the items that are recycled at home, work, and school. This makes the recycling industry sustainable.
Cradle-to-Cradle refers to designing products to be easily recycled into new projects as opposed to Cradle-to-Grave design, in which products are disposed of after use.
A: While both keep material out of landfills, pre-consumer content is not typically considered recycled in the traditional sense because it was never technically used.
Pre-consumer is material that was discarded before it was ready for consumer use. Pre-consumer waste is the reintroduction of manufacturing scrap (such as trimmings from paper production, defective aluminum cans, etc.) back into the manufacturing process. Pre-consumer waste is commonly used in manufacturing industries.
Post-consumer is material discarded after someone uses it. Post-consumer waste has served its intended purpose, passed through the hands of a final consumer, and has been discarded for disposal or recovery.
A: A mail-back program offers collection and recycling/disposal of products by sending them via mail. Fees may be associated with mail-in program recycling, and it is best that you call or visit the website before sending in products. They may have special packaging requirements or instructions for you to follow.
Visit the website earth911.com/recycling/mail-back-programs-recycling-from-home to learn more about mail-back programs for items you probably have around the house or office.
A: It all depends on where you are taking them to be recycled. What’s recyclable and not recyclable ultimately depends on each community’s infrastructure. Many recycling centers only accept the basics (plastics, paper, and aluminum), but check with your local recycling centers to see if they accept anything else.
Also check into mail-back programs to recycle uncommon items that your recycling center does not accept, like cell phones. (See also answer to “What is a mail-back program?”)
More information can be found at www.deq.state.ok.us/lpdnew/Recyclingindex.htm.
Also check out 1800recycling.com to locate the nearest recycling center for various materials.
See the information below about recycling hints specific to the source material.
Plastic items are identified by the type of plastic out of which they are made (as noted by a triangular recycling symbol encompassing a number). To see what kinds of things are made out of the different plastics, check out this informative PDF: plastics.americanchemistry.com/Plastic-Resin-Codes-PDF.
The #1-7 symbols only mean that the product is POTENTIALLY recyclable. In Oklahoma, only #1 and #2 plastics are recyclable in some places. If your community accepts only #1 & #2 plastic then they should not accept yogurt containers, margarine tubs, clam shells, plastic cups, plates, or anything besides #1 & #2 plastic bottles or jars.
If your community only recycles #1&2 plastic, and you use a lot of #5 plastics (yogurt containers, etc.), then look into Preserve Products (www.preserveproducts.com). They offer pickup at select Whole Foods locations for these plastics and recycle them into cool products, like toothbrushes or reusable food containers.
Do not mix biodegradable and/or compostable items in with regular plastic recycling materials (unless the item specifies otherwise) – it could contaminate the entire load, rendering it useless. When in doubt, throw it out—even a small amount of the wrong type of plastic can ruin a melt. Unfortunately, because of this, some plastic collected for recycling is actually landfilled.
Make sure to separate out lids and recycle those properly (many plastic bottle lids are made of a different kind of plastic and cannot be recycled with #1&2 plastics), and rinse food containers out to prevent odors, vectors and contamination.
For more information about plastic container types, recycling vendors and markets in Oklahoma, contact Michael Patton with the Metropolitan Environmental Trust in Tulsa () or Bryce Hulsey with the Oklahoma Department of Environmental Quality ().
(See also answer to “What about Styrofoam (expanded/foamed polystyrene, or EPS)?” and, “What about plastic grocery bags?”)
Though many recycling centers take glass, the market for glass cullet (ground glass) has slowed down due to the economy so a glass recycling facility is sometimes hard to locate. Check with your local recycling center to see if they will accept glass and what their specifications are – they may only accept a certain kind (colored, clear, sorted, etc.). Do not include whole or broken glass from windows, tableware, ceramics, and mirrors.
Make sure to separate out the metal lids and recycle those properly, and rinse food containers out to prevent odors and contamination.
For items like light bulbs, see Misc. section.
Ways to REDUCE and REUSE before recycling:
- Store and send documents electronically rather than printing hard copies.
- Use double-sided printing and copying.
- Use waste paper as scratch paper.
- Buy paper with high post-consumer recycled content.
- Buy products with minimal packaging and purchase in bulk.
- Opt out of phone book distributions (www.yellowpagesoptout.com).
- For more ideas, see www.calrecycle.ca.gov/ReduceWaste/Business/officepaper/QuickTip.htm.
Some recycling centers only take certain kinds of paper (white office paper, for example) so check with your local recycling center to see what kinds they accept. The paper packaging in which office copy paper comes in is coated paper, and therefore not recyclable.
Cereal boxes and similar packages can often be mixed with paper. Staples are fine, because they will be sorted out during the recycling process and often recycled with other scrap metal.
“Cardboard” recycling refers to corrugated cardboard, which needs to be separated from regular paper products. If your local recycling center does not accept corrugated, you may be able to drop boxes off at a supermarket or other high volume business. Contaminated cardboard, like greasy pizza boxes, is not acceptable. In some areas cardboard must be free of tape, but staples are easily sorted out during the recycling process.
Paper materials that are not typically able to be recycled are:
- Napkins and tissues
- Waxed paper
- Milk cartons
- Carbon paper
- Coated paper, including many fast food wraps, some food bags, and drink boxes
- Neon paper
- Thermal fax paper
- Wet or food stained paper
–ALUMINUM / FOOD CANS (Steel, etc.)
Cans that canned food comes in can be recycled for steel and/or tin content so many scrap metal dealers take them (call to check first). Normally, they should be rinsed clean to prevent odor, vectors and contamination, and any paper labels do not typically need to be removed, but check specific details with the recycling center.
Aluminum cans are usually the most commonly collected recyclable and they are infinitely recyclable, which saves energy and resources rather than producing cans out of freshly mined virgin materials.
Aluminum (non-ferrous) cans are collected and recycled separately from steel/tin (ferrous) cans.
Seek proper disposal for spray cans and other aerosols and paint containers (this is typically with Household Hazardous Waste, or HHW).
Many electronic stores will take items and recycle them for you. Some places, like Best Buy, may give you a gift card in exchange for the item. For a list of these places in the Tulsa area, and ideas for where to ask around in your neighborhood, check out www.metrecycle.com/recycling/d/electronics/.
The Oklahoma DEQ has a list of drop-off locations and information about miscellaneous computer waste: http://www.deq.state.ok.us/lpdnew/ewasteindex.html.
Computers, Monitors, Laptops, Netbooks, Notebooks, Tablets, Components:
- Send household computers back to the manufacturer for free. All national manufacturers participate. From their take back website print a pre-paid shipping label, box up your items, stick the label on the box, and drop it off at UPS/FedEx.
- Goodwill Industries has a contract with Dell and takes back computers and monitors for free (all brands).
- Take it to a drop-off location.
- See information on mail-back programs.
- Check local recycling centers.
- Take it to a retailer. Best Buy, Staples, Office Max, and Office Depot all have collection programs for a small fee. As a side note Best Buy sometimes reimburses recycling fees with gift cards.
- Community Event – Please check with your local government to find out when the next free collection event will be held.
- If it still runs, donate it to Habitat for Humanity, Salvation Army, or your local church.
For more information on recycling things like old VHS and cassette tapes, try these websites:
**To learn how to wipe a hard drive before recycling or donating it, visit www.geeksquad.com/intelligence/blog/geek-squad-2mm-disposing-of-your-hard-drives/ or take it to Best Buy and they will do it for $9.99.
Traci Phillips with Natural Evolution is familiar with recycling computer and electronic plastics, so you might be interested in contacting her at .
To see the recycling process of electronics, watch this video: http://livestre.am/I0mM.
–MISC. (Scrap Metal, Wood, Denim, etc.)
Things like scrap metal, rubber, wood, tires, shingles, yard waste, drywall, sheet rock, concrete, asphalt, gypsum, food grade oils/liquids, and other construction and demolition (C&D) debris are not typically taken at your local recycling center (although check first, because some do take things like tires and wood pallets). Look for specialty places to accept these items. Some locations in the Tulsa area include:
- Harley Hollan (east Tulsa)
5677 S 107th East Ave
Tulsa, OK 74146-6716
- American Waste Control (north of downtown Tulsa)
1420 West 35th Street
Tulsa, OK 74107-3814
- Chris Smithey
Smithey Environmental Services, LLC.
- Choudhary M. Adeel
3118 S. 130th E. Place
Tulsa, OK 74134
- Mike Coody
Habitat for Humanity might also be interested in building materials still in decent condition. Contact your local Habitat for more information (www.habitat.org/cd/local/default.aspx).
Denim, including jeans with holes, and other cloth material can be taken to your local thrift shop, Goodwill or Salvation Army. Many, if not all, the thrift shops send items they cannot sell to rag or shoddy makers (shoddy can be made into furniture stuffing and all kinds of things) so that your used textiles will not go to waste, even if they have stains or holes. You may wish to check with your favorite thrift shop to make sure they do this.
Composite products may need to be disassembled in order for the components to be individually recycled. For example, in a car seat, you could recycle the metal with your local scrap metal dealer and fabric with Goodwill. If the seat contains any paper products, those can be recycled at your local recycling center.
- Cannot be recycled with container glass because they have a different composition.
- See information on mail-back programs (earth911.com/recycling/mail-back-programs-recycling-from-home).
- Take them to a retailer. Lowe’s has a collection program for CFLs, and Home Depot will take any kind of fluorescent bulb.
- Community Event – Please check with your local government to find out when the next free collection event will be held.
You can also check the Resource Exchange for Eliminating Waste (RENEW) website,www.zerowastenetwork.org/renewdev, or the FreeCycle online community website www.freecycle.org/group/US/Oklahoma, or www.recycle.net. Additionally, look into mail-back program information at earth911.com/recycling/mail-back-programs-recycling-from-home.
For a comprehensive list of places across the U.S. that recycle miscellaneous items, take a look at https://louisville.edu/kppc/es/Recyclers%20Directory%20ES21-0111.pdf.
For information regarding discarded, unused, or leftover portions of household products containing corrosive, toxic, ignitable, or reactive ingredients, see section on Household Hazardous Waste (HHW).
A: EPS is not readily recycled in Oklahoma. There are only two places in OK that have the $100K machine required to densify it for recycling. Those places that do recycle EPS do so only for packaging items, not post-consumer waste like take-out containers or coffee cups because of the contamination by food or beverage residue. One potential post-recycling product is insulation made from EPS pellets.
EPS is messy stuff when it gets into the environment as it lasts indefinitely (even when broken into tiny pellets); it pollutes land and water and endangers wildlife. Furthermore, it’s made from petroleum, a non-renewable resource, so reduction is the best way to handle EPS.
The best thing to do about Styrofoam is to not use it! The next best thing is to reuse it. Some places like retail shipping stores, like Mail Boxes Etc., may take packing EPS to reuse it.
A: Yes, but not in your typical local recycling center or curbside program. Plastic films cannot be mixed with other #2 rigid plastics and must be recycled separately. This is mainly because films jam the machines used to bale and process rigid plastics, so films need to be collected and handled separately. Retail grocery stores usually take back disposable plastic grocery bags and may accept other plastic films as well. To see where you can take plastic films (grocery bags, dry-cleaning bags, film from bread and paper towel packaging, etc.), take a look at www.plasticbagrecycling.org/01.0/s01.1.php. To see what is typically acceptable, see www.plasticbagrecycling.org/plasticbag/s01_consumers.html.
Do not mix biodegradable and/or compostable films in with regular plastic recycling materials (unless the plastic film specifies otherwise) – it could contaminate the entire load, rendering it useless. When in doubt, throw it out.
Recycling Education and Outreach Programs
Does OKRA have speakers that are available to talk to my group?
I’m a student doing a project and was hoping to interview someone. Who should I contact?
I’m a school or community group leader, and I want to set up a field trip. Who should I contact?
I’m a community educator or teacher looking for lesson plans and activities for my group. What kind of educational resources does OKRA have?
I’m a community educator or teacher looking for funding to support my plans. What grants are available?
A: OKRA does formally do outreach programs, but many of our board and advisory council members do. Please refer to our list of leadership on this webpage: www.recycleok.org/about-us.php. Council and Board Members are listed with their area of expertise. Also try Sustainable Tulsa (www.sustainabletulsa.org).
A: (See answer to “Does OKRA have speakers that are available to talk to my group?”)
A: (See also answer to “Does OKRA have speakers that are available to talk to my group?”)
The Environmental Branch at Tinker Air Force Base can give tours for school and community groups. Part of the work done there is in natural resources. They manage an urban greenway on base, and have a protected habitat for Texas Horned Lizards. The goal of the tours is to explain how to protect the environment while maintaining the Air Force mission. For information on this kind of tour, contact Natural Resources Program Manager, John Krupovage at or (405) 739-7074.
OEMA (Oklahoma Environmental Management Authority) is a waste management company that provides collection, recycling and disposal services in Canadian County. For information regarding tours of OEMA, please contact David Griesel at or (405) 262-0161.
For a field trip that focuses on hands-on experiences with composting, contact Mason Weaver at or (405) 600-3142. Mason is the Director of the Urban Harvest program, an urban agricultural program of the Regional Food Bank that works to increase food security by making fresh fruits and vegetables available to hungry Oklahomans.
Also check with the operator of the closest Materials Recovery Facility, compost facility, transfer station or landfill to see if they would give a tour.
A: The OKRA “Educational Resources for Schools” webpage (www.recycleok.org/okra/resources-tips/educational-resources) includes links to curriculum and activities. Additionally, the PBS Kids website meetthegreens.pbskids.org/features features activities for ages 9-12.
Perhaps your school/community group would like to conduct Waste-Free Lunch days – eating is something we do 3+ times a day, so Waste-Free meals can really have an impact (www.recycleok.org/okra/wp-content/uploads/2012/04/wastefree-lunch-lessonplan.pdf). Additionally, your school could participate in a Locker Cleanout Environmental Event initiative (www.recycleok.org/okra/wp-content/uploads/2012/04/lockercleanout.pdf. Those are just a couple of ideas among these resources.
You may also consider borrowing a Solid Waste Management Resource Trunk, which features a “Close the Loop” component with tabletop display and samples of products made from recycled materials, plus activities and resources on topics such as: Illegal Dumping and Littering; Reduce, Reuse, Recycle; Backyard Composting; and Household Hazardous Waste. The trunk application and description of contents can be found here: http://agecon.okstate.edu/wastenew/files/ApplicationForm7LocationsRev.pdf.
A: DEQ Environmental License Tag Grant – Grants to promote new enthusiasm for the practice of environmental education are available for Oklahoma teachers, public or private (Pre K – 12), school environmental clubs, youth group leaders, and/or organizations with a youth component to apply. Applicants may apply for amounts from $100 up to $1,000 per grant; the amount of funding available varies year by year. Categories include: Environmental Club Projects, Edible School Gardens, Environmental Education Projects, Green Schools, Outdoor Classroom Revitalization, Recycling, and Composting. These grants are sponsored by the DEQ’s Oklahoma Environmental Quality Education Committee and have been awarded annually since 1996. Detailed information is available on the DEQ Website: www.deq.state.ok.us/pubs/lpd/eegrant2012.pdf. Contact: Sara Ivey at or .
Can Manufacturers Institute (CMI) – The CMI invites schools to their Annual Great American Can Roundup School Challenge, which will be awarding a $1,000 grant to one school in each state and the District of Columbia that is determined to have recycled the most aluminum cans per student and an additional $5,000 to the top per capita recycling school nationwide ($6,000 total possible for one school). That is in addition to the recycling proceeds earned from recycling. The contest period is from America Recycles Day (Nov. 15) to Earth Day (April 22) 2013. For more details regarding the contest and registration, visit www.cancentral.com/roundup and register through December 15, 2012.
EPA Recycling Grants – For information, visit www.epa.gov/region8/recycling/grants.html#5.
Start a Recycling Program or Business / Earn Money from Recycling
How can I earn money in Oklahoma through recycling?
How can my non-profit (church, school, etc.) raise money in Oklahoma through recycling?
How would I go about starting a recycling program at my school or office?
Where can I get recycling bins?
How feasible are curbside recycling programs? Could I start one?
How would I go about starting a recycling business or center for my community?
What are the necessary types of special training, insurance, licensing, certifications, or regulations a recycling business must need to comply with?
A: As of now, the only way for an individual to be paid for recycling is to sell scrap metals and/or aluminum cans to a scrap metal dealer. There are also some aluminum can buy-back centers or machines around the state.
A “Bottle Bill,” or Beverage Container Return Legislation, in the state of Oklahoma would provide an opportunity for individuals to return bottles and cans for grocery store credit (or similar). Such bills have not succeeded so far in the OK legislature, but attempts continue to be made. See http://www.bottlebill.org/legislation/campaigns/oklahomac.htm for information about Oklahoma’s 2011 Deposit Bill.
A: The best way for a group to earn money from recycling is by recycling paper (everything except phone books and cardboard) in a “Paper Retriever” container provided/serviced by AbitibiBowater. However they mainly serve areas near Tulsa and Oklahoma City, so check to see if your town is served (www.paperretriever.com). This service is only available to non-profits.
Another way for community groups to earn money is through mail-back programs. A mail-back program offers collection and recycling/disposal of products by sending them via mail. There may be fees associated with mail-in program recycling, and it is best that you call or visit the website before sending in products. They may have special packaging requirements or instructions for you to follow. This PDF gives instructions for a cell-phone recycling campaign through which your group can earn money: http://www.recycleok.org/okra/wp-content/uploads/2012/04/collectivegood-cellphone-recycling.pdf.
For other potentially paying mail-back programs, visit the website earth911.com/recycling/mail-back-programs-recycling-from-home.
(See also answer to “How can I earn money in Oklahoma through recycling?”)
A: (See also answer to “How would I go about starting a recycling business or center for my community?”)
The most important step in starting a recycling program is to find a vendor to take the recyclables. Most groups will not produce enough material for a commercial pick-up, so a volunteer system works best, where individuals take recycled materials to the local recycling center. You may try making recycling bins from cardboard boxes (check the cafeteria) or repurposing old trash cans. The important thing is to mark them clearly and place them adjacent to trash bins. The closer recycling bins are placed to trash bins, the less trash will be added with recycling.
Some resources are available online to help with this process. Go to www.recycleok.org/okra/resources-tips/educational-resources and read through these documents:
- School Recycling Program Implementation Plan
- How to Start & Sustain a School or Office Recycling Program
More information at: www.recycleok.org/recycling-program.php. Additionally, this PDF file is very informative: www.recycleok.org/okra/wp-content/uploads/2012/04/Community-Recycling-Toolkit-2008-10-29.pdf (specifically pages 12-14).
A: Although Alcoa has donated 22-gallon aluminum can recycling bins to Oklahoma in the past, and OKRA has stored and distributed them to newly started recycling programs, we have not received a new supply since 2009. OKRA has requested more bins from Alcoa and will post a message to our listserv as soon as a new supply of bins is available.
In the meantime, you can look at loan programs, grants, or purchasing recycling bins.
Keep Oklahoma City Beautiful has a Recycle Bin Loan Program that allow the loan of one or more of their 75 recycle bins for events like neighborhood picnics, school events, or business conferences to name a few. Borrowing is free, but there is a $75 fee for late returns. For more information, visit www.okcbeautiful.com/recycle-bin-loan-program/.
The Tulsa area has a similar recycle bin loan program for events through the M.e.t. (Metropolitan Environmental Trust). Information about that can be found at www.metrecycle.com/recycling/bin-loan-program.
Grant programs are another option, and they provide a longer lasting, if not, permanent solution.
- A Bin Grant Program managed by Coca-Cola and Keep America Beautiful: www.bingrant.org
- Anheuser-Busch Lend A Bin Grants in partnership with Keep America Beautiful has a Lend-A-Bin program: www.kab.org/site/PageServer?pagename=Lend_A_Bin_Grant
- Another funding source is the DEQ Environmental License Tag Grant, so you can apply for recycling bins through them.
- Grants to promote new enthusiasm for the practice of environmental education are available for Oklahoma teachers, public or private (Pre K – 12), school environmental clubs, youth group leaders, and/or organizations with a youth component to apply for the grant. Applicants may apply for amounts from $100 up to $1,000 per grant, the amount of funding varies from year to year. These grants are sponsored by the DEQ’s Oklahoma Environmental Quality Education Committee and have been awarded annually since 1996. Detailed information is available on the DEQ Website: www.deq.state.ok.us/mainlinks/eetag.htm.
- Contact: Sara Ivey at (405) 702-7122 or .
Also, try applying to host a Greenopolis Recycling Kiosk where points and rewards can be earned from recycling. Apply at http://greenopolis.com/onstreet. Another place to check for sponsored recycling bins is www.freegreencan.com/index.shtml — qualifying locations (places like schools, convention centers, etc.) can host a waste collection bin for free.
Recycle Away, Systems and Solutions has a variety of options for purchase at www.recycleaway.com.
Alternatively, you may try making recycling bins from cardboard boxes or repurposing old trash cans. The important thing is to mark them clearly and place them adjacent to trash bins. The closer recycling bins are placed to trash bins, the less trash will be added with recycling.
A: The fluctuating market makes it difficult for small municipalities and small businesses to take on such an investment as curbside recycling, especially where infrastructure is not developed. Running a truck and staff throughout the city (even every other week) would cost much more than the current contract site maintenance costs. This is why some U.S. cities, including The Village in Oklahoma, ended their curbside program in 2009 (although The Village started a new curbside program in 2011). Commodity prices for recyclable materials are so volatile that when the economy crashed in late 2008, some cities actually had to pay to get rid of the plastics, glass and mixed paper they had collected.
However, it is not impossible to start a program. For information and suggestions on successful maintenance of a curbside recycling program, try contacting Shikoba Recycling in Tulsa at (918) 894-2019 or .
See also page 6 in www.recycleok.org/okra/wp-content/uploads/2012/04/Community-Recycling-Toolkit-2008-10-29.pdf for more information on curbside recycling.
A: (See also answer to “How would I go about starting a recycling program at my school or office?”)
First decide what materials you would like to recycle. Look into markets for plastics #1-7, metal: non-ferrous and ferrous, paper: newsprint, office paper, magazines, phone books, etc., corrugated cardboard and electronics.
Then decide where you would store the materials and where you would take them; a place to collect and store large amounts of recyclables before transportation is necessary (i.e. collection bins). In order to sell non-metal products for recycling, you would need to collect huge quantities and bale the materials for transport. Some sort of agreement with someone to buy your recyclables before making any investments is ideal: the most important step in starting a recycling program is to find a vendor to take the recyclables. Find out if they are paying for materials, what minimum volume they accept, if they pick-up or require delivery, and how materials should be prepared (separated by type, color, kept dry, etc.). Keep in mind that with a downed economy, recycling markets have also taken a hit.
Our website, www.recycleok.org/about-us.php, lists the board and advisory council members’ areas of expertise, so you might check there for guidance. Here are vendors in Oklahoma, although we do not recommend any particular business. Those that only accept materials from national accounts, and not from individuals, non-profits, or independent businesses, are noted with an asterisk:
- Advanced Environmental Recycling Technologies (A.E.R.T.)*
Materials accepted: #2 plastic and plastic film
- Anchor Glass Container Co.
601 E. Bollinger Road
Henryetta, OK 74437
- Atlas Roofing
2300 S. Veterans Blvd.
Ardmore, OK 73401
- Dlubak Glass
1018 W. 14th Street
Okmulgee, OK 74447
Materials accepted: glass cullet, separated by color
- Georgia Pacific
4901 E. Chandler Road
Muskogee, OK 74403
- Green Options Environmental, OKC
Contact: Travis Tatum
- Greenstar Recycling
1432 W. Main
OKC OK 73106
- International Paper Company
890 International Paper Lane
Valliant, OK 74764-8018
- Kibois Sheltered Workshop
Materials accepted: paper/cardboard
- Orchids Paper Products
4826 Hunt Street
Pryor, OK 74361
- Owens-Brockway Glass Containers
York at Shawnee
Muskogee, OK 74403
- Razien Metals
P.O. Box 8
Woodward, OK 73802
- Republic Paperboard
8801 S.W. Lee Blvd.
Lawton, OK 73505
Contact: Ann Frenett
Materials accepted: Paper; mixed office, corrugated cardboard, and newspaper from Brokers, industry, businesses and schools.
Product: Gypsum paper, paper, liner board
- Saint-Gobain Containers*
1000 N Mission St
Sapulpa, OK 74066-3149
Materials accepted: glass cullet, separated by color
- Sheffield Steel
2300 S. HWY 97
Sand Springs, OK 74063
Contact: Steve Johnson
Materials accepted: Scrap steel
- Western Fibers Inc.
P.O. Box 745
Hollis, OK 73550
Contact: Mike McGuire
Materials accepted: Newspaper, white office paper and cardboard
- For information on the national market see
After obtaining a business permit, you would want to get the word out about your recycling center. You may do well writing a short article or editorial about it for your local paper. You might also want to meet with your Chamber of Commerce and City Council persons/mayor to let them know what you are doing.
You might also want to look into making reference pamphlets for residents who would be affected. Stillwater has a “Stillwater Recycling Guide” for residents to have as a reference for all items that can be reused or recycled in Stillwater. The first year it was produced, the City agreed to mail it out for free with their utility bills. Since then, it has gone to the Chamber of Commerce for their welcome packets and been placed at businesses and other locations around town. Here is a link to the current guide: http://sustainablestillwater.org/wp-content/uploads/2012/01/STWrecyleGuideReprinted20.pdf
You could ask Staples to donate a few reams of green, recycled paper and ask your local copy store to give you a discount (in exchange for being listed as sponsors on the back of the guide).
More information at: http://www.recycleok.org/business-tips.php. Additionally, this PDF file is very informative: http://www.recycleok.org/okra/wp-content/uploads/2012/04/Community-Recycling-Toolkit-2008-10-29.pdf.
A: For licenses and permits, that will depend on the scope and size of your operation. To start, you should contact your local City Hall, Chamber of Commerce and/or the Department of Environmental Quality. Bryce Hulsey, Recycling Coordinator for the OK DEQ, would be your contact there (). The National Recycling Coalition (NRC) is working on developing a set of criteria for the certification of recycling professionals.
→ For more information on composting, check out http://okcomposting.wordpress.com or contact Kathy Moore, OKRA Board Member and President of Oklahoma Composting Council at .
What is composting?
Compostable and “biodegradable” materials can be thrown into the trash and still break down, right?
How do I start composting?
What is vermicomposting?
Is there a market for commercial scale composting that utilizes food waste in Oklahoma?
A: Composting is collecting dead plant material, food scraps, and other items in one place and helping them to break down more quickly. Natural decomposition happens all the time—at farms and in forests—but helping the decomposition process to speed up through composting is beneficial. Plants require fertile soil in order to grow well, and composting puts nutrients back into the soil in addition to keeping many items out of landfills.
Be mindful of what you throw away because it could be compostable. Often, about 1/3 of what we throw away can be composted!
A: False! Things in landfills do not break down because the air and water that would be necessary for decomposition is removed from the landfill. Newspapers 50 years old, green grass clippings, and other materials have been found in landfills completely intact. Furthermore, organic matter, like items made of bagasse (a biodegradable fiber remnant of sugarcane production) or corn, creates methane and other harmful gasses when buried in a landfill.
A: Great to hear you are interested! See the information listed here for a summary of how to compost. The more you compost, the more you will learn tricks of the trade. Many people believe they can taste the difference; they believe food that is grown organically and with compost has a better flavor.
- Start with a bin.
- Buy one: A store-bought bin works great. There are many kinds, so pick one that best meets your needs.
- Make one: Start with a cubic yard of material: 3’ x 3’ x 3’ to hold in the heat as the temperature changes.
- You can build a 3-step box system. The first box is for items to be placed for composting, the second is where the composting process is currently taking place, and the third is compost ready to be used.
- You can also build one out of old wooden forklift pallets, which you can usually find for free.
- Repurpose an old city plastic trash can by drilling in holes to let in air.
- Layer materials to make sure air can get into the pile. Add “green stuff” and “brown stuff.”
- Green meaning freshly cut leaves, grass, produce scrpas, and other materials still moist. The nitrogen in those materials helps bacteria to break things down. Also add a scoop of your ground soil into the pile to add necessary bacteria.
- Brown is dried materials like dead leaves or shredded paper products.
- Add water (in varying amounts dependent on the climate) if the pile starts to feel dry. The compost should feel as moist as a squeezed out sponge.
- Cut it, Turn it, and Sift it!
- Cut up branches, leaves, and stems before putting them in a composting pile. That speeds things up by making them already smaller pieces before they are mixed together. Breaking through the tough outer layer of plants lets water and bacteria into the pile.
- Turn the pile every once in a while, but not too often. Some heat is needed to help decompose the material; if your composting pile starts to feel cool to the touch, turn it and perhaps add water.
- If some of the material has composted, but some has not, you can sift the pile to separate rocks and yet-to-be decomposed material from the nutrient-rich soil. This also aerates and mixes the soil for use in the garden.
- Aerobic bacteria are found in garden compost, anaerobic bacteria are found in landfills (it stinks and produces harmful methane gases). If your composting bin starts to smell, it needs to be turned.
- Some ideas for what to put (and not to put) in your compost:
- Cut up leaves, grass, and weeds
- Food scraps, like banana peels, cleaned and crushed egg shells, and coffee grounds
- Cut up cardboard (paper towel rolls) and regular paper products (office paper and toilet paper)
- Farm-animal manure
- Oleander or eucalyptus
- Big, thick branches
- Domestic animal or human feces
- Animal products like butter, meat, bones, or dairy
- Fat, oil or grease
A: Vermicomposting is the process of composting utilizing various species of worms, usually red worms or earthworms, which produce vermicast (or worm castings). Vermicomposting can speed up the composting process, and worm castings are particularly nutrient-rich and helpful for soil. You can purchase worms and starter kits at www.unclejimswormfarm.com. For more information on vermicomposting, see http://pods.dasnr.okstate.edu/docushare/dsweb/Get/Document-1494/BAE-1742.pdf.
A: Unfortunately, we are unaware of any commercial composting operations in Oklahoma that use food wastes as a compost material. There are only about 10 commercial facilities in the state and most use sludge, wood chips, yard trimmings and/or manure.
Household Hazardous Waste (HHW)
A: Household Hazardous Waste, or HHW as it is often abbreviated, is the discarded, unused, or leftover portion of household products containing corrosive, toxic, ignitable, or reactive ingredients. Improper disposal of household hazardous wastes can include pouring them down the drain, on the ground, into storm sewers, or in some cases putting them out with the trash. The dangers of such disposal methods might not be immediately obvious, but improper disposal of these wastes can pollute the environment and pose a threat to human health.
A: (See also answer to “What are common HHW items?”)
When purchasing household and lawn chemicals, paint products, or automotive products, keep in mind how you plan to use, store and dispose of each product and its container.
- Only buy what you need. Don’t “stock up” on products you’ll never use. It can cost almost as much or more than the purchase price to properly dispose of household chemicals.
- Whenever possible, purchase alternatives to environmentally hazardous household chemicals.
- Read labels and use only as directed.
- Ask your neighbors and friends if they need any of the products you do not use.
- Store hazardous materials in cool, dry areas away from children and pets.
- Keep materials in original containers and/or properly labeled.
- With proper care, empty containers can be disposed of safely.
- Never mix HHW with other products. Incompatible products might react, ignite, or explode, and contaminated HHW might become unrecyclable.
You can take HHW to Oklahoma City’s Household Hazardous Waste Collection Facility at SW 15th and Portland, and if you have an Oklahoma City water bill it is a free service. More information about this can be found at www.okc.gov/services/hh_waste/index.html. As the site states, “Residents of The Village, Yukon, Tinker Air Force Base, Shawnee, El Reno, Edmond, Bethany, Warr Acres and Moore can recycle their waste at the facility, but may be charged for the service through their municipality.” Oklahoma City has the only permanent HHW collection facility in the state.
This publication by the Oklahoma DEQ has information by city: www.deq.state.ok.us/lpdnew/recyclers/Community%20Recycling%20Information.htm. Within this list, search for “haz” to find the communities that might have ad hoc HHW collection events. Then you could e-mail or call the contact person for the next collection date. Generally, anyone who takes HHW to a collection event must show proof of residency. Holding these events is extremely expensive so communities normally limit participation to their residents. Same goes for communities that host E-Waste collection events.
You can also check www.zerowastenetwork.org/renewdev to see if any participants will take your HHW or look into mail-back program information at earth911.com/recycling/mail-back-programs-recycling-from-home.
A:Do NOT flush any old or unused medication, but take pills back to pharmacies that participate in a take-back program OR to a HHW collection event OR put them in your garbage in a manner that does not make it possible for dumpster divers to use the medication or identify you and your Rx. You can do this by mixing medications with water, coffee grounds and/or kitty litter to make them unusable. The Oklahoma Bureau of Narcotics and Dangerous Drugs Control has also instituted a “Pharmaceutical Take Back” program for the citizens of Oklahoma. Prescription drug disposal boxes are located in every county in Oklahoma. For a current list of drop off locations see http://www.ok.gov/obndd/documents/TakeBackBoxes.pdf
A: Some materials are accepted at HHW locations, some can be disposed of in the trash, and some can be disposed of down the drain.
Materials Accepted at Many HHW Locations
- Aerosol Sprays
- Asbestos Products
- Batteries: Button, Rechargeable (NICAD), Mercury and Lithium Batteries. Rechargeable batteries may also be taken to recycle collection points. Dispose of Alkaline batteries in the regular trash.
- Brake Fluid
- Coal Tar Products
- Cooking Oil
- Creosote Products (wood sealers and wood treatment products)
- Fluorescent Lamps, Unbroken
- Driveway Sealers
- Floor Care Products
- Glue (solvent-base)
- Inks & Dyes
- Mercury Products
- Moth Balls
- Nail Polish and Nail Polish Remover
- Paint (oil-base)
- Paint Thinner
- Pool Chemicals
- Rechargeable Batteries
- Rust Removers
- Weed Killers
- Windshield Wiper Fluid
- Wood Preservers
Materials That May be Poured Down the Drain
- Ammonia-based Cleaners
- Most Bathroom Cleaners
- Diluted, Mixed Photographic Chemicals
- Drain Cleaners
Materials That May be Disposed in Regular Trash
- Batteries labeled Alkaline
- Empty Containers of any kind
- Glue (water-based only)
- Latex Paints (dried)
- Permissible Fireworks/Flares (thoroughly soaked in water first)
- Shoe Polish
- Smoke Alarms (remove battery first)
- Medicine – may be mixed with water, coffee grounds or kitty litter to make unusable, but for the safest disposal, please see “What can I do with my old medication” above.
- Syringes, Needles and Other Medical Sharps: place in plastic container with screw-on top and mark the container “residential sharps”
How can I become involved with Oklahoma Recycling Association (OKRA)?
How do I become a member of OKRA?
How much are membership dues?
When are membership dues collected?
What are the benefits of becoming a member of Oklahoma Recycling Association (OKRA)?
A: We are pleased to hear you are interested in becoming involved with our non-profit, volunteer-run organization! If you would like to receive our newsletter on a regular basis, please join our Announcement List at www.recycleok.org/get-involved.php. You may also wish to become an OKRA member. We have several workgroups available to members. They are: Outreach & Communication, Advocacy, Waste Exchange, Market Development, and K-12 Education.
You can also check our events page http://www.recycleok.org/events-activities.php for annual conference and other event information.
If you are interested in volunteering, please contact us and let us know how often you are available to volunteer and in what capacity. Thank you for your interest!
A: If you wish to join OKRA please complete the membership form http://www.recycleok.org/okra/get-involved/join-us/okra-membership-form/ and send it with your membership fee check to:
P. O. Box 521154
Tulsa, OK 74152-1154
Alternatively, you may select to pay electronically via PayPal by using the same membership form.
For more information about joining OKRA, visit our “Join Us” page: http://www.recycleok.org/join-us.php.
A: Your annual dues help us to maintain and share statewide resources, provide forums for networking, encourage end markets and work to create a unified voice for Oklahoma recyclers. OKRA is a non-profit run entirely by volunteers. Yearly membership fees are:
Student Member $1
K-12 Recycling Coordinator $5
Individual Member $25
Non-Profit/Government Partner $75
Corporate Partner $100-1,000
Consider joining both at a individual and government, non-profit or corporate level. This allows both you and your organization to receive recognition and it also guarantees a discount for you at OKRA events, such as the annual Oklahoma Recycling Conference.
A: Annual dues are collected at the beginning of each calendar year.
A: Check out our membership brochure at http://www.recycleok.org/okra/wp-content/uploads/2012/03/BrochureWebsite.pdf.
Membership benefits include an e-newsletter, information about OKRA activities and recycling news throughout the year via the OKRA listserv, newsletter recognition, a discount at OKRA events, and eligibility to vote and elect OKRA officers and board of directors.