Waste Disposal Options

We receive many telephone calls asking how to dispose of stuff properly. We've placed some links and suggestions below that may help you get rid of unwanted items.

1. REDUCE your trash output as much as possible.

Purchase products with the least amount of packaging. For example, if you can purchase cereal that is either in a bag or in a bag that's also in a box�leave the box behind.

Purchase concentrated products (smaller containers) and bottles (such as cleaning products) that are refillable.

Stop unwanted junk mail, e-mail, and phone calls:

2. REUSE it or give it to someone who can.

Reuse It
There are networking sites on the Internet that assist in hooking up people who have good stuff to give away with people who can use it.  Check out www.freecycle.org for an example of this type of website.

Cellular Phones

Have you been trying to figure out a good use for your broken or disconnected cellular phone?
Call 1-888-901-SAFE (7233) or visit their website at www.donateaphone.com . The Donate-a-Phone campaign accepts all models of cellular phones (working or not). This organization refurbishes and sells the phones or programs them with emergency numbers and distributes them to victims of domestic violence.

Christmas Trees
Many communities have compost areas that accept Christmas trees. 

You can put them to even better use:
The Project Learning Tree program (www.michiganplt.org) is in need of "tree cookies" for students to learn about forestry and how trees grow.

Tree cookies are used at all workshops as name tags and during many PLT activities.  A few concepts taught include species, parts of a tree, how trees grow, and correlations to historical events based on the tree's age.

Directions on how tree cookies are made can be found at www.michiganplt.org/pdf/treecookies.pdf   All sizes are needed!  The smallest size PLT needs many of is approximately the diameter of a soda can and 3/4" to 1" thick.  These are used by students as keepsake name tags, so it's very helpful if two holes are drilled near the top (large enough to draw string/yarn through).  It is not critical that this size be labeled with tree species or coated with polyurethane.

Once complete, we would arrange to have them picked up from your area and distributed to educators planning workshops around the state.

If you are interested in donating tree cookies, please contact Ada Takacs at 989-275-5151, ext 2049 or takacsa@michigan.gov

For those who are not in Michigan, click here to find your PLT coordinator.

Clothes and Household Items
There are many donation centers such as Goodwill, St. Vincent DePaul, Salvation Army, Habitat for Humanity Re-Stores, etc. that accept used items.  Don't forget to ask for a receipt so you can use it as a tax write-off.

To find a location nearest you, search a phone directory using keywords such as Resale, Second Hand, Used Merchandise, or Thrift Shop.

Eyeglasses and Hearing Aids
Lions Clubs International, which has been collecting and recycling used eyeglasses for more than 60 years, is the world's largest service club organization with 1.4 million members in 185 countries.  The association joins volunteers in community service with special emphasis on aiding the blind and visually impaired.  contact your local Lion's Club to find the closest eyeglass drop-off to you.  Used glasses are cleaned and repaired, sorted by prescription, and then donated to needy people around the world.


Greeting Cards
St. Jude's Ranch for Children is no longer accepting used greeting cards. 

Turn greeting cards into gift boxes, gift tags, etc.

Donate hair to "Locks for Love" for wigs for Children with cancer
www.locksoflove.org  or call toll-free 888-896-1588 for further info.

Leftover Paint
Many high school and college drama clubs need paint for creating backdrops in plays. Call your local school's drama department to see if they are interested.

Propane Tanks
Effective April 1, 2002, Liquefied Petroleum Gas (LPG) cylinders are required to have an overfill protection device (OPD) in order to be legally filled in Michigan.

This includes propane tanks from outdoor grills, trailers, RV's, etc. Are your tanks already retrofitted? If so, the valve handle is triangle shaped, not round.

If not, you can have your tank refurbished or recycled at most propane dealers. Kits are also available at most major department stores for you do-it-yourself-ers.

A few volunteers have found old tanks during public land cleanups. Calls to the local propane dealer allowed for proper recycling. One dealer even paid a finder's fee!

Abandoned propane tanks may indicate a meth lab. If items you find on public land look suspicious, avoid contact with them and call the local authorities

Railroad Ties
Viking Energy Company in Lincoln MI (989-736-6618) and in McBain MI (231-825-2772) can take creosote wood/railroad ties. Contact them in advance to find out their requirements, hauling considerations, etc.

Effective February, 2009, all signals must be digital.  Americans with older, analog televisions which received signals by antenna will no longer be able to.  Subscribers to cable or satellite service should ask their providers if they need special equipment for digital reception.  If you don't buy a digital model, a converter box will be required.             

Most televisions have cathode ray tubes that contain lead and some contain liquid crystal displays with a small amount of mercury.  If you chose not to convert your old TV sets, please dispose of them properly at community e-waste collections.

To find out where to recycle electronic waste, visit the DEQ's recycling website and search for your county contact.

Designations of Inertness
Sometimes trash can be used for other functions after its usefulness as its original function has passed. An example would be using crushed scrap tires as an alternate fuel source or as a backdrop at a shooting range or a mat under playground equipment. The Department of Environmental Quality issues a "Designation of Inertness" in these circumstances. Below is a list of links to these documents.

For further information on how to qualify to use Designations of Inertness in lieu of disposal, contact the Michigan Department of Environmental Quality, Waste and Hazardous Materials Division, at 989.373.2730.      


This site has information of many ways to recycle, compost, donate items, and so forth http://www.earth911.org/

Click here for a list of Recycling, Composting and Household Hazardous Waste Contacts by County.


Compact Fluorescent Light Bulbs (CFLs)
As part of their long term commitment to the environment and sustainability, The Home Depot is pleased to offer free in-store CFL bulb recycling at all of their stores nationwide. 

Bring in any expired, unbroken CFLs, place them in a plastic bag and deposit them both into one of the bright orange collection units.

The bulbs will then be managed responsibly by an environmental management company who will coordinate CFL packing, transportation and recycling to maximize safety and ensure environmental compliance.

For further information, visit www.homedepot.com/ecooptions

Many communities have e-waste collection days.  Check with your county contact (link above) or watch for announcements in your local newspaper.
Apple, Inc.
sponsors free recycling programs for iPods, the world�s most popular digital music player as well as other electronics.  More details of Apple�s electronics recycling programs are available at:

Lead Acid (car/truck/RV) Batteries

Department Stores such as K-Mart and Wal-Mart will accept these batteries and give you a "core charge" credit to waive toward purchase of a new battery on the same day. Otherwise, you can just turn them in for recycling (some stores take them for free and some give you a deposit-call ahead).

Unused and outdated medicines should be disposed of carefully because they can be dangerous if they get into the water supply.  Many communities have medicine collections each year.  Some Sheriff's Departments or drug stores have drop-off boxes as well.  Search on-line for information specific to your community.

Scrap Metal
Metal reclaiming prices continue to rise, so you can actually earn money recycling metals.  Recycling facilities are generally listed in the telephone directory under "Recycling Centers," "Scrap Metals," or "Waste Disposal."

Click here for answers about reclaiming scrap metals from state forest land.


Solid Waste Facilities
Household Hazardous Waste Information
DEQ Waste Management General Information

DEQ Residential Recycling
Additional Tips

5. Community Cleanups
Many communities offer special cleanup days. Watch for announcements in the local newspaper or check on-line at your community (township, county, city, etc.) website.

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