Recycling Oddities: In the Know, Where Does it Go Part II

Tulsa Master Recyclers Association

IN THE KNOW: We take a look at how to recycle a Whirlpool water filter, dust mask, battery powered thermostat, an electronic doorbell, an old thermostat and an electrical fuse.

BETH TURNER for GTR Newspapers

As Tulsa County continues to become more recycling-friendly, curbside customers continue to throw more in the recycling bin than recycles. Combining this with my burgeoning pile of items I can’t bear to throw in the trash, it became time to research the best plan for recycling odd items that I feel you may deal with as well.

Managing Masks
Let’s start with the product in the photo that is revealed as the least recyclable… the health and safety mask. I first thought the material could go in the compost, thinking it was made of cotton. However, these days it seems there cannot be a fabric without plastic woven in, and sure enough the mask in the photo is mostly made of nylon. The exhalation valve appears to be of plastic #1 or 2 but alas, it is not. The only portion of this product the layperson can easily recycle is the metal nose strip, which can be tossed in a curbside bin.

On a brighter note, the maker of this mask, 3M, touts several sustainable practices in its manufacturing processes which reduces waste, water and energy usage. Product Manager Dawn Westin pointed out that their packaging is recyclable and that sometimes it is unsafe for their disposable masks to go in a recycling bin due to the contaminants they filter.

Since my mask is used mainly to save me from an allergy attack after mowing or dusting, I found an inexpensive washable, reusable dust mask that is made in the U.S.A. at Home Depot.

Researching the recycling of water filters makes me proud of our public, because I feel that our desire to recycle everything is driving manufacturers to meet our needs. My water filter is a Whirlpool/PUR brand.

While Whirlpool does not recycle its products personally, it recently partnered up with TerraCycle. Oh wow, this is a cool organization. According to its website, “TerraCycle can recycle all and Brita products, including pitchers, faucet mount systems, all types of water filters, and even the packaging.”

Sign up online at Once you have a box of stuff, simply print off a free shipping label and drop it off at your local office.

While at the website, check out all their offerings to ship your stuff to be recycled…from skin care and cosmetic packaging, power bar wrappers, juice pouches, one-use coffee discs, and more.

Safety Tips
While researching, I came across some great tips. Apparently, some websites claim to specialize in filter recycling so if one charges a fee, especially if above any needed shipping costs, do not press go…this is a sales or marketing trick.

Also, do not attempt to recycle your own water filter. I watched a YouTube video on breaking down the products for recycling, which was way more work than I ever planned to do…thankfully. Manufacturers say that these filters contain potentially toxic contaminants you do not want exposed to you or your family. So, ship them off and let someone else take care of it!

According to the Environmental Protection Agency, or , electronic waste or e-waste is the fastest growing municipal waste stream in America: 20 to 50 million metric tons of it tossed out worldwide. Tiny bits of gold and silver in each cell phone adds up to more than $60 million tossed in our trash.

Take for instance the electrical fuse, doorbell and thermostat in the photo. These items can be dropped off at Natural Evolutions or its supported M.E.T. locations at 302 N. Elm in Broken Arrow, 3495 S. Sheridan in Tulsa, and 1101 S. Cincinnati in Tulsa. All of these locations have attendants on hand to help you. Drop off is not available if attendants are not on site, so check hours of operation before heading out.

Hazardous Help
The last item in our photo is the old thermostat, which utilized mercury to do its job. This puts it clearly in the hazardous waste zone. Luckily, the M.E.T.’s semi-annual Fairgrounds Collections Event will be Saturday and Sunday, Nov. 7-8 from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m.

Items accepted include thermostats like mine, household cleaners, pesticides, fertilizers, automotive fluids, cooking oil, batteries, all fluorescent light bulbs, small ammunition, smoke alarms, aerosol paint, hobby paint, pool chemicals, items containing mercury, gasoline, and unused or out-of-date prescription medications.

The collection is for residents of Bixby, Broken Arrow, Claremore, Collinsville, Coweta, Glenpool, Jenks, Owasso, Sand Springs, Tulsa and Tulsa County, not businesses.

Collecting Thoughts
What items do you want to recycle and aren’t sure how? Send in your thoughts to or tweet @TrashTalkTulsa. While you’re at it, send in your best judgment on what to do with the items posted in the above photo at right. We’ll discuss those next month. Happy recycling!

Updated 10-26-2015

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