Toxic Waste Center Reopens in Summit County

By: Genevieve Bohnak, The University of Akron Intern

Summit County Household Hazardous Waste Recycling Center has reopened for the season.  The waste center, located at 1201 Graham Road off of Rout 8 in Stow, will be open on Thursdays now through September 25th from 2-8 p.m.

Many of the common household products we find in our homes contain the same chemicals found in hazardous industrial chemicals and can create similar environmental and health problems. By not throwing chemicals in garbage, down the sink, or on the ground you can protect your family’s health and preserve the environment.

The center takes items like oil-based paints, insecticides, pesticides, and other toxic household wastes found in garages, basements, and under sinks. The toxic waste center accepts old tires from passenger’s car and light trucks at a cost of $1 each. Tires can be on or off the rim and there is a limit of 10 tires per visit.

The facility is no longer accepting latex paints (visit for information about disposing latex paint) or containers larger than 5 gallons. The center is also no longer accepting computers, televisions, electronics, cellphones, and toner cartridge due to the high cost of recycling those items in particular. For more information and a list of acceptable items, call 330-374-0383 or go to

Recycling: When In Doubt Throw It Out

by Cindy Pantea

Our friends at ReWorks have updated us on the preferred methods in curbside recycling:

Milk, juice, broth, soup and other food and beverage cartons like those shown below are recyclable, but not their screwtop lids. The small lids from these containers cause problems for the recycling companies.

recyclable cartons

This is a sample of all the types of cartons which are recyclable. Throw away the lids in the trash.

Rigid plastics, such as detergent bottles, food containers (like those that contained whipped cream or sour cream) are recyclable after a quick rinse, but not the lids. Again, the lids, either due to size or material consistency can cause problems for the recycling companies.

plastics recycle

This is a sample of the types of plastic bottles that are recyclable. Plastic food containers are recyclable too, just remember to rinse. Throw away the lids before recycling.

Glass bottles and jars are recyclable after a quick rinse, and it is not necessary to remove labels. The lids, however, are not recyclable due to size or material consistency.

glass bottles and jars are recyclable

Here is a picture of glass jars and bottles ready for recycling. Notice there are no lids. (Labels left on bottles are okay.)

Aluminum and other metal cans are, of course, recyclable after a quick rinse, but if you remove the lids or pull tabs completely from the cans, it is best to throw them away. The lids can be too small or can be made of materials that are not attracted by the magnet that the recycling company uses to gather them for the recycling process. It is not necessary to remove labels. Take special care to avoid exposing sharp edges so that you as well as the recycler do not become injured.

metal cans are recyclable

Note: Aerosol cans and, as of December 2013, aluminum foil are not good for recycling due to possible food residue.

break down cardboard for recyclingPaper and cardboard are recyclable. This means includes envelopes and phone books. The only thing that is asked is that the cardboard be broken down flat (as shown in the picture to the left). Do not tie or bundle paper and cardboard.

recycle paper and cardboard

While everything pictured above is recylable, the following list tells us what is not recyclable:

NO used oil or oil containers. This means pizza boxes, too. Food contamination is one of the big problems for recycling companies.

NO egg cartons of any type because they contain styrofoam. Unless you purchase eggs in a plastic container, do not put in the recycling bin

NO electronics (including cell phones and appliances)

NO batteries or light bulbs (of any type).

NO hazardous wastes (paint pesticides or cleaners).

NO widow panes, mirrors or ceramics.

NO medical waste. Use the D.U.M.P. program.

NO auto parts, hardware tools or garden hoses.

NO hangers.

NO metal items, railroad ties/spikes, or chains

NO yard waste or food waste.

NO trash.

NO clothing, shoes, or toys.

If you have a question regarding recycling, contact ReWorks, or use this philosophy: When in doubt, throw it out.




More Composting Tips

by Cindy Pantea

Awhile ago I wrote a post about my Grandma, who was a recycler and composter. Her way of composting, though, was to keep her food scraps in the coffee can underneath her sink and then add them to her garden when the can was full.

As Polly, our Flowerscape Director, and composting experts will tell you, however, it is not a good idea to put food scraps directly into your garden due to the acidity of the decaying materials.

Actually, it is best to mix already composted materials with the natural soil on your property/in your garden, and it will help keep the soil moist for your plants.

Normally people do not even get that far because just the idea of a compost pile scares them. They think it smells.

But I am here to tell you again that compost piles do not smell if done correctly. And it is simple. Basically equal parts of green material and dirt or other brown materials are going to keep the compost from smelling at all.

To prove this, allow me and our President & CEO, Paula Davis, share something that Paula took from her HGTV Magazine this month. It is written by Daryl Beyers who gives us specific suggestions for green and brown materials that make for the best compost.

Green materials being: fruit ends and peels, fruit cores, corn cobs, vegetable ends and peels, grass clippings, egg shells, coffee grouds and tea bags.

Brown materials being: peanut shells, twigs, leaves, toilet paper rolls, shredded paper towels and paper, cooked pasta (without butter or oils), and plain popcorn (without butter or oils).

DO NOT COMPOST: Meat, milk cheese butter, yogurt, oils, salad dressing or dog poop.

Here are the directions from Beyers:

  1. Put ingredients in an outdoor compost bin or a pile in your yard that will get four to six hours of sun a day. (Note: Compost housed in a bin can be ready in 30 days while it may take a few months for a pile of compost to be ready.)
  2. Add a shovelful of garden soil then mix every week or two by turning the materials with your shovel or pitch fork. (Note: The more you mix, the faster it will be ready.)
  3. Add water if the compost seems dry.

The compost is done when it looks dark, rich and fluffy with no recognizable materials, except for maybe a piece of a leaf or twig.

The picture article is shown below. Click on the picture and zoom in for better viewing capabilities.

composting tips for a no smell compost




Grandma was a Recycler and Composter

by Cindy Pantea

I thought it was crazy at the time. Grandma washing out bread bags to reuse for lunchbox sandwiches, washing tin foil for reuse, and that smelly metal Maxwell House recycling can under the kitchen sink housing rotten, fermenting food scraps for her garden.

If you had grandparents or parents who lived through the depression era of the 30s, this may sound familiar. Now, we have been experiencing tough economic times, and you are hearing more and more about recycling and sustainable gardening — actions we should have been borrowing from our recycling, composting grandparents and then perfecting and showing our kids how to do.

We Became Wasteful

There’s no denying it…we were wasteful. And guess what? Now we are experiencing hard times economically. History sure has a way of repeating itself it seems.

Plus, our wastefulness has put our planet in jeopardy. So many of us are just now reusing glass or plastic containers, or at least putting them in our City of Akron recycling bins.

But when it comes to gardening, we are having a tough time getting things to grow or having to spend a lot of money on good soil just to get the $4.00 quarter grown tomato plant to make its fruit. So we think it is easier to just buy the food we need. Until that grocery bill climbs as high as the scraps of food we send to the landfill.

We could just compost, of course.  Ewww…but the contents of that coffee can smelled awful.

On the other hand, I will say this about the contents of that smelly coffee can: Grandma had a great berry patch and vegetable/fruit garden (as well as flowerbed), and she certainly shared with us the fruits and vegetables of her extra effort.

Composting Doesn’t Have to Stink

Grandma obviously did her own type of composting. She was saving scraps and rotting them down to throw right in the garden soil. It worked for her, but Polly, our Flowerscape Director, doesn’t recommend it, as you run the risk of the fermenting scraps being too acidic for your garden plants.

But Grandma was on the right track. For indoor composting, she should have:

  1. Poked some holes in the bottom and top sides of a larger metal or plastic container.
  2. Sat the container on a brick (or something to keep the bottom from touching the floor) and also sit the brick in/on a flat container or something to catch leakage or spills. Note: Steps 1 and 2 give the compost pile air, which is necessary to the composting process.
  3. Layered the food scraps with dirt then dried, dying plant material (leaves from outside, leaves from an inside plant), and then adding water. Note: This layering step is really what helps eliminates the smell.
  4. Stirred the composting material regularly. Note: You can actually speed up the composting process by stirring more often.

Of course, she also could have just taken her scraps outside more often to an outdoor compost bin and done the same process. As long as you are layering with dirt and yard material (grass, leaves, small twigs) you’re good to go.

Here’s something else to remember: Don’t add oils, bones, meat or fish to your compost pile.

The compost is ready when it looks like soil that is consistent in texture, without any recognizable organic materials like your food scraps and leaves. Sometimes you’ll see a tiny twig or wood bit which is okay, but the rest should be unrecognizable. Also, the compost should not stink but rather have a pleasant and earthy scent.