New mercury recycling service available locally

Published 12:00 am Tuesday, January 17, 2017

Republic Services is making universal recycling available to its commercial customers in Andalusia, territory manager Frank Eller said.

“The city does a great job recycling cans, paper, and cardboard,” Eller said. “Republic is one of the largest recyclers in the country, but we can’t do that basic service here because of the logistics.”

What the company is offering is a service for recycling mercury-containing devices such as batteries, light bulbs, and lighting ballasts.

“This is about keeping lead, mercury, hazardous and materials out of landfills and groundwater,” Eller said. “The way it way it works is you order a small box for say fluorescent bulbs, and keep it in the maintenance shop somewhere. When you have a bad bulb, you put it in the box. When you fill the box, you tape it up. The shipping is prepaid and the box is prelabeled.”

Recycling can extract 99.8 percent of mercury from bulbs for re-use, he said.

The importance of this service is underscored by the recent problems with with the tainted water supply in Flynt, Mich.

“We take clean water for granted,” he said. “You turn the knob and it’s there.”

Keeping items containing mercury out of landfills is critical, he said.

Customers pay for the container when they receive it, he said, and ship at t heir convenience.

“For some facilities, that’s every six months or so,” he said. “For others, it’s every month.”

Both Andalusia Manor and Andalusia Health already participate in recycling fluorescent light bulbs, he said.

The cost is approximately $65 per case of lights shipped.

“This is a great program, and we’re really excited about it,” he said. “If you could speak with people in Flynt, Mich., never in 100 years did they think their water would be tainted. We have to be better stewards of our environment.”

Heller is available to talk to civic groups about the service, or about signing up. He can be reached at 334.343.1679.