The Do’s and Don’ts of Recycling: Part 4

This is the final installment in my 4-part series on recycling in New York City.

Now that you’ve gotten a full rundown on the more well-known recyclables – paper, plastic, metal – let’s review the items that leave most people scratching their heads.



Place batteries with your regular trash, not in your recycling bin.

Button batteries

Ask jewelry stores, watch repair shops, camera stores, and other retailers to recycle your watch, calculator, or other button batteries. Though not required to, many do.

Rechargeable batteries

It is illegal for New York City residents to discard rechargeable batteries in the trash.

Take them to any store that sells rechargeable batteries or products that contain them.  With the exception of small food stores, stores must take back up to ten batteries of the same shape and size as they sell, no purchase necessary.

Uninterruptible power supplies (UPS)

Recycle through one of the manufacturer-sponsored take-back programs or through a recycling vendor.


It is illegal in New York State to discard a car battery in the trash or on the street.  Auto batteries can be recycled, and are accepted at any service station, auto supply store, or NYC Department of Sanitation Special Waste Drop-Off Site .


Regular light bulbs should be placed in your household trash.

Compact Fluorescents (CFLs) can be placed in the household trash, but to prevent injury to Sanitation workers, double bag the CFLs before discarding.

CFLs and other fluorescents can also be recycled by dropping them off at any of the NYC Department of Sanitation’s Special Waste Drop-Off Sites or at any Home Depot or IKEA.


Recycle empty or dried-out metal paint cans.

NYC Department of Sanitation Self-Help Special Waste Drop-Off Sites will accept up to five gallons of unwanted latex paint per visit.

Materials for the Arts accepts donations of paint for distribution to nonprofit cultural organizations and arts programs. Call them at (718) 729-3001.


You can recycle plastic bags by dropping them off at large or chain retail locations that provide plastic bags.

These types of bags are accepted:

  • plastic shopping bags
  • plastic dry cleaning bags
  • plastic newspaper delivery bags.

SYRINGES, NEEDLES, AND LANCETS (a.k.a. Household Sharps)

Never place loose household sharps in the trash, and never place sharps containers in your recycling bin.

They should be packaged safely and properly labeled.   Then they can be placed in the trash, or they can be discarded at any hospital or nursing home in New York State.


Two very helpful websites should answer any remaining questions:

New York City Government:  NYC Wastele$$

New York City Department of Sanitation:  “How do I dispose of . . .

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