City wants your old vegetable oil

Gary B. Gray • Jan 18, 2012 at 11:14 PM

Johnson City residents will soon be able to become active participants in the recycling of cooking oil, household batteries and fluorescent bulbs.

The city’s Solid Waste Services Division announced Wednesday it will be accepting these items beginning Monday. Cooking oil and household batteries will be incorporated into the city’s existing residential curbside recycling services; fluorescent bulbs must be brought to the Solid Waste Services location at 91 New St.

“This is a first for the city,” said John Smith of Solid Waste Services. “Quite frankly, I’m not aware of any other municipality that does this.”

Smith said the city already picks up used motor oil and the request regarding cooking oil came from residents who had leftover oil from frying turkeys at Thanksgiving. Smith said he checked with the same company that takes the motor oil and they agreed to accept the cooking oil.

“We ask that people put the oil in a clear container equipped with a screw-on lid,” he said. “We’ll unload it at our processing area into a 250-gallon container. When that gets full, we’ll call the company and they will come and syphon it out and turn it into a material used to make asphalt.”

Smith said the city will not charge residents for the extra service and the city will not make money on the items. The current basic residential fee is $9 per month.

“We’re the ones picking it up; they’re the ones turning it into use as another product,” he said.

Car batteries currently are accepted at Iris Glen Environmental Center, and they will continue to be.

“After inquiries, we decided we would also pick up (curbside) household batteries which will go to our recycling recovery center,” he said. “They will be separated by type, and a company will pick them up and extract certain reusable materials from them.”

Florescent light bulbs, both tubes and compact bulbs, will be accepted, but they must be taken to Solid Waste Services. These items also will be taken by a local company which will extract mercury and other parts and pieces for re-use. In this case, the city must pay the company 4 cents per foot. Regular incandescent light bulbs do not contain mercury and can be dumped in the landfill.

The following tips may be helpful:

n Used cooking oil will be accepted via curbside bins. Residents are asked strain food particles from the oil and place it in a clear gallon container with a screw-on lid. Lard, shortening and tallow will not be accepted. While used motor oils (no kerosene, gasoline, brake or transmission fluids, paint thinner, etc.) are also accepted, they should not be mixed with cooking oils.

n Household batteries, both rechargeable and non-rechargeable, will be accepted in person at the Solid Waste Services Complex and in curbside bins. Both battery terminals must be taped securely. Batteries must be placed in a plastic sandwich/storage bag with a zipper seal. If depositing batteries via curbside bins, please place baggies on top of other recyclables in the bin.

n Fluorescent tubes and compact fluorescent bulbs (CFLs) will be accepted in person only. Tubes and bulbs should be placed in original packaging or wrapped in newspaper. Only four tubes will be accepted per visit; there is no limit on CFLs. Tubes longer than 4 feet will not be accepted. Residents are advised in the event of breakage: open a window or door, keep away pets and children, wear rubber gloves and pick up fragments/shards. Collect powder with a wet disposable towel. Place all items in a sealable bag, double bag and wash hands thoroughly. Place in regular trash.

Recyclables that are accepted in person must be delivered to the Solid Waste Services Complex at 91 New St., Monday through Friday from 6 a.m. until 5 p.m. For more information about Johnson City’s recycling program, call 975-2792.

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