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Recycling 101

By LaVerne C. Paulson

Fri, May 3rd, 2013
Posted in All Agriculture

By LaVerne C. Paulson

Recycling Education Coordinator

Used motor oil and used oil filters should be recycled. Recycling them will not only help save resources and energy, but will also protect the environment. I might also add that it is illegal to dispose of used motor oil or oil filters in the trash, on the land, or in the waters of Minnesota.

Motor oil and other automotive lubricants normally pick up lead, benzene, and other toxic contaminants through use. One gallon of oil can contaminate one million gallons of water. One gallon of oil can also create an eight acre oil slick that can kill countless little critters that live on or near the water surface.

Take used oil and filters to garages that accept them or bring them to the Resource Recovery Center in Preston for recycling. Do not mix the oil to be recycled with other wastes like anti-freeze or gasoline. Do not throw used oil filters in any trash or bury them on your farm. Do not spread used oil on driveways or roads for dust suppression.

Used motor oil can be placed into a container small enough for you to lift to pour the oil into the recycling tank at the Recovery Center. Used oil filters should be drained. The drained filter can be placed into a leak-proof container before bringing it to the Resource Recovery Center. There is no charge for recycling used motor oil, but there is a charge at the Recovery Center for oil filters...fifty cents for one quart or smaller and one dollar for filters larger than a quart.

It has been estimated that 30 percent of the population performs their own oil changes. Of these do-it-yourselfers, 35 percent dispose of used filters in the garbage. One ton of recycled oil filters produces 1700 pounds of high quality steel.

I am asked a lot of questions about batteries. Each of us owns at least one or two electronic devices that require batteries. Three billion, yes BILLION, batteries are sold each year in the United States. That averages out to thirty or forty per family. The proper disposal of dead batteries can be confusing. Can they be thrown out in the landfill garbage, or must they be recycled? I am sure you are aware that batteries contain cadmium, mercury, copper, zinc, lead, manganese, nickel, or lithium. These nasty creatures can get into our air and water if buried or burned. Burning not only releases deadly gasses into the air, but burning batteries have been known to explode creating a shrapnel effect. Most regular alkaline flashlight batteries can be disposed of in the trash, but if you are not sure, bring them to the Recovery Center or to a place that accepts used batteries.

Rechargeable Nickel-Cadmium Batteries found in some toys, cellular phones, power tools, and computer packs must be recycled. Sealed Lead Acid Batteries are rechargeable and are commonly used in video cameras, power tools, wheelchairs, ATVs, and metal detectors, as well as some clocks and cameras. These are not meant for landfill. Lead Acid Vehicle Batteries (12 volt) must be recycled.

If you are still confused or perhaps more confused, contact me at or call the Recovery Center at 765-4704. Please remember, when in doubt, don’t throw it out...take it to the Recovery Center or Hazardous Household Waste Day. If more than one battery occupies the same container, hopefully a plastic bag, the terminals should be taped to avoid accidental contact. Only one in six households disposes of batteries correctly. I really think Fillmore County can do much better. That cute, little button battery from your watch or hearing aid is not meant to simply be thrown away.

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