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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 waste. Another option is to ask your car dealer or mechanic to see if they will accept your antifreeze for proper disposal or recycling.


Batteries

Lead-acid batteries

QUESTION: Where can I recycle my lead-acid (e.g., car, truck, motorcycle) battery?

ANSWER: Lead-acid batteries must be recycled in South Carolina. Every county accepts lead-acid batteries. To find the location nearest you, visit www.scdhec.gov/recycleheresc. In addition, most auto parts retailers accept batteries.

NOTE: You also can recycle your old lead-acid battery at the retail location where you bought your new one. There is a $7 advance recycling fee on each new battery purchased. If you return your old battery when buying a new battery, you will receive a $5 credit and be charged only $2.

Rechargeable batteries

QUESTION: Where can I recycle rechargeable batteries?

ANSWER: Rechargeable batteries can be recycled at major retailers (e.g, Lowe’s, Best Buy, The Home Depot) that participate in the Call2Recycle program. The program, free to residents, accepts all dry cell rechargeable batteries weighing up to 11 pounds including Nickel Cadmium (Ni-Cd), Nickel-Metal Hydride (Ni-MH), Nickle Zinc (Ni-ZN) and Lithium Ion (Li-Ion) batteries as well as small lead-acid batteries. To find a recycling location near you, visit www.call2recycle.org/locator.

Rechargeable batteries also can be recycled at Batteries Plus Bulb stores. Call ahead to confirm what services are available. To find a store near you, visit www.batteriesplus.com/store-locator/sc.

Single-use batteries

QUESTION: Where can I properly dispose of or recycle my single-use batteries?

ANSWER: Alkaline batteries can be disposed of in your household garbage.

Lithium batteries – commonly used in cameras, watches and remote controls – and button batteries – commonly found in watches, hearing aids, keyless entry remotes and medical devices – should not be disposed of if possible. These non-rechargeable batteries should be properly managed as household hazardous waste. To find out what opportunities are available in your community, visit www.scdhec.gov/recycleheresc.


Compact Fluorescent Light Bulbs (CFLs)

QUESTION: Where can I recycle my CFLs?

ANSWER: Some county programs accept CFLs through household hazardous waste programs or single-day collection events. To find out if CFLs are accepted in your community, visit www.scdhec.gov/recycleheresc.

Residents also can recycle CFLs at Lowe’s or The Home Depot. Lowe’s has recycling centers at the store entrance that accepts CFLs as well as rechargeable batteries, cell phones and plastic shopping bags. The Home Depot offers CFL recycling at the returns desk (look for the orange recycling container). Check directly with the store before you go. Not all stores in nationwide chains may be set up to collect CFLs.

If you cannot find a recycling option, residents may place CFLs in their household garbage. The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency recommends that the bulb(s) be placed and sealed in a plastic bag before disposing of in the trash.


Composting

QUESTION: What can I compost at home? How do I do it?

ANSWER: Composting is simple. All you need to start is a little time, a small space and a basic understanding of the composting process. To learn how to begin composting in your backyard, visit www.scdhec.gov/compost.


E-cycle South Carolina

Electronics 

QUESTION: Where can I recycle unwanted household electronics?

ANSWER: Residents are required by law to recycle computers, computer monitors, printers and televisions. Here are the primary recycling opportunities available.

  • Before recycling, if the product works, consider donating it to a non-profit organization.
  • Each of South Carolina’s 46 counties as well as some municipalities provide collection programs and/or offer single-day collection events for unwanted electronics. To find out what is accepted in your community, visit www.scdhec.gov/recycleheresc.
  • Many retailers and most manufacturers offer collection or take-back programs. Here is a list of the programs – all of which vary on how they work and what they accept. The list is not to be considered an endorsement of any retailer, manufacturer or program.

If recycling unwanted electronics, delete all personal information.

To learn more about electronics recycling in South Carolina, visit www.scdhec.gov/e-cycle.


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.


Household Hazardous Waste

QUESTIONS: How can I properly manage household hazardous waste (HHW)?

ANSWER: There are several options to safely managing these unwanted household products (e.g., cleaners, lawn and garden chemicals, pool chemicals, pesticides, stains, varnishes).

  • Always follow the product’s label instructions for use, storage and disposal.
  • Do not pour down the drain, on the ground or in a storm sewer.
  • Give your unexpired but unwanted product(s) to a friend, neighbor, organization or business that can use it.
  • Some county programs accept HHW either through a regular collection program or a single-day collection event. To find out if what your management options are in your community, visit www.scdhec.gov/recycleheresc.

  • 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.


    Mercury Thermostats

    QUESTION: Where can I recycle my mercury thermostat?

    ANSWER:The Thermostat Recycling Corporation offers a nationwide program to collect mercury thermostats. To find the location nearest you, visit www.thermostat-recycle.org/zipsearch.


    Motor Oil

    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.

    NOTE: There is a two cents per quart advance recycling fee on oil. The fee – which is part of South Carolina’s solid waste legislation – provides grant funding to local governments for the recycling of used motor oil, oil filters and oil bottles as well as the state’s solid waste management program. South Carolina has no other fee associated with the sale of oil. Retailers may charge additional fees as a matter of company policy.


    Oil Filters and Bottles

    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.


    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.


    Packing '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.


    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 from residents – 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.


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