A woman drops off single-stream recycling at the Newark Recycling Center, located in Pencader Corporate Center.

Have you ever looked at a piece of trash in your hand and wondered, “Can that be recycled?” For many items, the answer is yes, and it doesn’t have to cost an arm and a leg – or even be inconvenient – to get rid of some of your waste without adding to the landfill.

The easiest way to recycle is in the city of Newark’s single-stream recycling bin. It gets picked up right from the curb once a week and trucked to the Delaware Solid Waste Authority’s collection site in New Castle. The only hard part is to remember what can go into the bin. So, here’s a quick reminder. Accepted items include: paper (except shredded paper), cartons, paperboard, corrugated cardboard, plastic containers (leave lids on), cans, and glass bottles and jars (no lids because they are a different material). Everything should be clean.

That takes care of a lot of packaging. The next most common items are plastic bags and plastic film. These can’t go into the single-stream receptacles because they gum up the machinery. However, they can be dropped off at any supermarket in Delaware. (Note that during the COVID-19 pandemic, some – though not all – supermarkets have removed their recycling bins.)

The next level of recycling is still free and easy, but it requires visiting one of the DSWA recycling centers. Luckily, a brand new one just opened just south of Newark, at 470 Corporate Boulevard, off Del. 896 just north of U.S. 40. It replaces the old drop-off sites at Phillips Park, Glasgow High School and Lantana Square. In addition to single-stream recycling items, this center also accepts used motor oil and oil filters, batteries, and styrofoam in larger pieces, like those buffeting a new appliance in its box, as opposed to packing peanuts. Plus, it hosts document shredding events the first Wednesday of each month, because shredded paper can’t otherwise be recycled. (Again, it gums up the sorting machines.)

What about electronics – computers, printers, telephones, TVs, radios, cameras, microwave ovens, vacuum cleaners or even electronic toys? Yes, that stuff, too, can be recycled at the DSWA Newark Recycling Center. Keep in mind, though, that even better than recycling is reusing. So, if your electronics are still working, consider donating them. Organizations like Secure the Call collect old cell phones that can be used for emergency calls without a calling plan.

Then there are some less common items that can still be recycled, but not through the DSWA. Ink and toner cartridges can generally be returned to office supply stores. Compact florescent light bulbs can be recycled at most home improvement stores. Many types of construction debris can be recycled through Revolution Recovery. Leftover construction material can be donated to the Habitat For Humanity ReStore. Scrap metal can be sold to Newark Recycling on Albe Drive (not to be confused with the DSWA Newark Recycling Center). Shoes and clothing are collected by a variety of charities in local drop-off boxes; items that are in good condition are resold, but other items are sent to the recycler. H & M also collects unwanted garments in any condition and even rewards recyclers with a voucher. Unwanted books can be donated to a “Little Free Library,” of which there are currently four registered within Newark.

For those willing to go the extra mile (or at least mail in their recyclables), Terra Cycle has partnered with a large number of companies to collect, at no cost to the consumer, their packaging for recycling, ranging from dog food bags to ballpoint pens to coffee pods to baby food pouches to tooth brushes to cigarette butts. Some, though not all, of these programs are brand-specific. Terra Cycle also runs other recycling programs for hard-to-recycle items, but those are not free.

Finally, there are those pieces of trash that can’t be easily recycled but should still be kept out of the landfill. Drugs, prescription or over-the-counter, can normally be dropped off anytime outside the Newark Police Station, although this service has been recently suspended due to COVID-19. Many local pharmacies also take them, though, as does the New Castle County Police Department in New Castle and the Wilmington Police Department. A partial list of permanent drop-off sites is available from Household hazardous waste (nail polish, perfumes, moth balls, cleaners, paints, solvents, herbicides and pesticides, antifreeze, etc.) can be turned in every Wednesday at the DSWA Newark Recycling Center, although containers with less than one-inch of substance should be disposed of in the regular landfill trash.

Thank you for recycling and helping the City of Newark reach its sustainability goal of diverting more waste from the landfill.

The Conservation Advisory Commission was created in 1977 to advise the city of Newark in the development, management and protection of its natural resources, with appropriate consideration of Newark’s human and economic resources. It meets the second Tuesday of each month at 7 p.m. in council chambers. The public is invited to attend and provide input. Commission members provide this monthly column to inform area residents on conservation issues.

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