Post holidays good time to declutter, help charities

If cleaning out and sprucing up is your mantra for 2023, there are numerous opportunities to accomplish that in the next few weeks — and possibly even make some money for yourself or local charities.

“We have been in the scrap metal recycling business for 37 years and have been diverting metal from landfills for that entire time. I like to say that recycling aluminum cans paid for my college. My parents paid for all four of their girls to go to college, which shows the opportunities that come from recycling,” said Vanessa Gallego, chief operating officer of Recyco, Inc.

Recyco accepts all metals (except precious metals and entire vehicles) for recycling and preparation for recycling. Accepted items include household appliances (stoves, refrigerators, ovens, washers, dryers); car parts; tools, nails and screws; aluminum and tin cans; bicycles and much more. Electronics are accepted but not for payment. The items can be dropped at one of two locations: the drive-through at 650 E. 22nd St. and at 5851 E. 22nd St.

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“We pay by the pound and recycle items. We don’t physically melt down the materials but prep them and send them to different places around the country to be made into new metals. If you bring a refrigerator, we break that down and send off the parts that can be recycled to different recyclers,” said Gallego, a certified master recycler who removes the refrigerants herself.

This time of year, popular items also include metal-based artificial Christmas trees and Christmas lights, which are recycled for copper wire. Working and nonworking Christmas lights can be dropped off at Recyco and at the Reid Park Zoo, which has served as a drop-off location for the past few years.

“Christmas lights have copper that runs through the wires and here in Arizona we understand the value of that. It is important that the copper remains in the cycle. It takes so much energy to remove it from the ground and we don’t want it to just be re-buried in landfills,” said Gallego.

People can receive money for their metal recyclables or donate the money to nonprofits such as Friends for Pima Animal Care Center or BICAS.

“Since 2015, Friends of PACC has raised more than $22,000 from recycling. Most of that was raised through aluminum cans, plastic beverage bottles and cans from cat and dog food. We also work with BICAS to recycle bikes they can’t fix or repurpose into art. And if people want to donate bikes here, we can get them over to BICAS. It is really just our way of trying to help other agencies and folks looking to recycle” Gallego said.

TreeCycle program

People who want to recycle real Christmas trees can bring the trees (minus lights, ornaments and tinsel) to eight locations citywide and one in Oro Valley courtesy of the City of Tucson TreeCycle program. Trees will be accepted through Monday, January 16. Find a complete list of TreeCycle locations at www.tucsonaz.gov/treecycle.

“TreeCycle has been a very popular program for more than 20 years. If people want to dispose of real trees, we chip them and use them for compost,” said Cristina Polsgrove, Environmental and General Services public information officer for the city of Tucson.

Household waste

The Tucson Household Hazardous Waste Program can also help with de-cluttering for the new year.

The event offers collection of various household waste products from 8 a.m. to noon Saturday, Jan. 14, at the Rodeo Grounds, 4823 S. 6th Ave. Tucson residents can also drop items from 7 a.m. to 4 p.m. Thursdays, Fridays and Saturdays at the Los Reales Landfill, 5300 E. Los Reales Road.

“Often people hold on to items that are harmful to the environment or to people or pets because they don’t want to throw them away or dump them in a wash. This is a safe way to dispose of items people no longer need, and 98 percent of what we collect is reused or recycled,” Polsgrove said.

People can dispose of everything from automotive fluids and auto batteries to cleaning fluids and cooking oil. Other items accepted include lithium and button batteries (alkaline batteries are not flammable and can go in the trash), fluorescent lamps and bulbs, paint products and solvents, pesticides and more. Visit www.tucsonaz.gov/es/household-hazardous-waste or www.tucsonaz.gov/es/hhw-list for a comprehensive list.

Polsgrove emphasized that the event also offers a great time for the public to dispose of glass bottles and jars and electronic waste (cathode ray tubes monitors are not accepted). Tucson residents can also take advantage of free document shredding (up to three boxes per household).

Contact freelance writer Loni Nannini at ninch2@comcast.net

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