Reuse and recycle your unwanted toys

It’s that time of year when new toys move in and old toys move out. Ensure that the old toys get a second life by reusing and recycling them instead of throwing them away.


Photo of bathroom sink counter with soap dispenser, plastic shark toy, and toothbrush holder made from Legos.Donating old toys is the easiest option. As long as toys are clean and in good working condition, you can donate them to thrift stores and local charities. Most large thrift stores offer pick up services. You can also drop your toys off at the nearest donation box (only toys that will easily fit in the box’s door).

Three organizations that accept toys for donation and work with local kids and families in need are Operation Breakthrough, Scraps KC and The Giving Brick.

Host a toy swap

Avoid the after-the-holiday blahs by hosting a toy swap. It is a great way to clean out the closet, help the environment, and help stave off you and your kids’ cabin fever.

Recycle electronic toys

Whether it’s a broken video game, remote control car or a Nerf Blaster, it’s all recyclable. Midwest Recycling Center and The Surplus Exchange both recycle all toys that run on batteries or a power cord. If you have a video game junkie in your home, you can recycle old gaming devices at Best Buy, Staples and Office Depot / Office Max.


Who knew toys can be made into a wreath, a toothbrush holder or bookends? Search “How to repurpose toys” on the internet, and you’ll find countless cool things to make from unwanted toys.

For more information on reuse and recycling, visit

Sleepyhead Beds: helping children in need and keeping mattresses out of landfills

sleepyhead beds vanThe MARC Solid Waste Management District administers an annual grant program that awards funds to local communities and organizations for waste reduction and recycling-related projects. From time to time, we publish updates about recent grant recipients.

Most of us will likely have a few mattresses throughout our lifetimes. What did you do with your last mattress after you bought a new one? Instead of throwing out an old mattress, you can do something good for kids in the Kansas City region and for the environment.

If your old mattress is still in reasonable shape, with no noticeable stains or structural problems, you can donate it to Sleepyhead Beds. Sleepyhead Beds is a local organization that takes gently used, unwanted mattresses and sanitizes and sterilizes them for redistribution to children in need. The organization also accepts donations of clean, gently used sheets, comforters and pillow cases.

In 2013, Sleepyhead Beds received a grant from the MARC Solid Waste Management District to purchase a truck and hire a driver to expand its program for collecting and redistributing beds and bedding. This helped Sleepyhead Beds redistribute more than 1,600 mattresses and 1,200 pounds of bedding. If you lined up those mattresses end to end, they would stretch over two miles!

Reusing mattresses also saves a lot of time and energy since recycling them can be very difficult. Plus, any mattress that ends up in a landfill takes up a lot of space. If the 1,600 mattresses redistributed by Sleepyhead Beds were all twin-sized they would take up 27,000 cubic feet, or enough space to cover a basketball court eight times. (That would make it much easier to dunk!)

To learn more or to arrange a donation, visit Sleepyhead Bed’s website.

Highlighting 2013

The MARC Solid Waste Management District held its 2013 Annual Meeting and Awards Luncheon on Wednesday, Dec. 11, at the Kauffman Foundation Conference Center. Dr. Joseph Martinich, University of Missouri — St. Louis, spoke about the benefits of recycling on Missouri’s economy. The district also recognized several individuals and organizations that have made notable contributions to regional waste management and recycling efforts. The 2013 Special Recognition Award recipients were:


Public Employee — Marleen Leonce, Kansas City, Missouri.
The Public Employee award recognizes a public employees who has shown dedication to the development and advancement of waste reduction and recycling through individual achievement and commitment.

Individual Supporter —  Brian Alferman.
The Individual Supporter award recognizes an individual who has made exceptional contributions and commitment to the district’s waste reduction and recycling efforts.

Green Event — Northland Recycling Extravaganza, cities of Parkville and Riverside.
The Green Event award recognizes a special event that promotes sustainable practices. Meredith Hauck with the City of Riverside and Kendall Welch, Parkville Alderman accepted this award.

Waste Industry — Heritage Environmental Services.
The Waste Industry award recognizes outstanding waste reduction and recycling efforts for a business in the waste industry. Tanya Cotton accepted this award.

Environmental Educator — Green Works in Kansas City.
The Environmental Educator award recognizes an individual or group for commitment to educating others about the need for and benefit of waste reduction and recycling. Kate Corwin accepted this award.

Please join us in congratulating our award recipients and their contributions to help the region achieve its goal of 80 percent waste diversion.

A bright idea for Southeast Enterprises

The MARC Solid Waste Management District administers an annual grant program that awards funds to local communities and organizations for waste reduction and recycling-related projects. From time to time, we publish updates about recent grant recipients.


Old strands of holiday lights may not work, but they’re far from worthless. For the second year, Southeast Enterprises will collect unusable or unwanted holiday lights for recycling. Last year, they exceeded their goal of recycling 24,000 pounds of holiday lights. This year’s goal is to exceed 34,000 pounds.

So, what happens to all of those lights? Once collected, Southeast’s employees prepare the lights for recycling by clipping and sorting each component of the light strands: wires, plugs, light receptacles and bulbs. The components are then sent to other organizations for recycling or energy recovery. Every part of the light string is recycled.

snowman trashcanThe program does more than help the environment — it provides jobs, too. To disassemble the lights Southeast Enterprises employs more than 160 Jackson County residents who are intellectually and developmentally disabled.

Collection containers will be placed at more than 165 participating schools, businesses, recycling centers and community organizations. View the map of drop-off locations to find one near you.  They will collect lights until Jan. 26, 2014.

The district is pleased to be part of this effort by providing grant support to Southeast’s 2012-13 and 2013-14 collection programs.

Household Hazardous Waste – where does it go?

Have you ever wondered what happens to the material you drop off at the Kansas City Household Hazardous Waste (HHW) facility or at a mobile collection event? Depending on the material, it may be used as fuel, treated and used as an ingredient in a new product, or filtered or cleaned to make it usable again. In total, about 90–95 percent of the material that comes through the regional HHW program is recycled or recovered as waste-to-energy.

For example:icons-vertical-es

  • Good-quality latex paint is processed, filtered and sold back to the public. Latex paint that can’t be reused is sent offsite to a waste-to-energy plant.
  • Oil-based paints, flammable liquids and aerosols are sent to a plant in Arkansas where they are turned into an alternative fuel for use in cement kilns. The propellants from aerosols are recaptured and the metal from the cans is recycled.
  • Antifreeze is recovered locally and goes through a coolant distillation process with a 97 percent recovery rate for reuse.
  • Used oil is burned in the HHW facility’s used-oil furnace for heat, sent to Habitat Restore for use in its used-oil furnace, or sent to an approved local oil recycler.
  • Fluorescent bulbs — including CFLs — are sent to a facility for recycling. The mercury is recovered and the glass and metal are recycled.
  • All batteries are recycled. Heavy metals and casings are recovered and hydroxide compounds are burned off. The materials produced are used to make new batteries, metal alloys and corrosion-resistant coatings.
  • Lead acid batteries are recycled. The lead is recovered to 99 percent purity, the sulfuric acid is neutralized and discharged under permit, and the plastics are recycled into new battery casings.
  • Acids, caustics, pesticides, oxidizers and flammable solids are sent to a hazardous waste incinerator where they are treated in a furnace at 1,800 degrees Fahrenheit. .
  • Small propane cylinders are sent to a facility where the propane is reclaimed and the metal is recycled.
  • Metal paint cans are sent to a local metal recycler; empty plastic cans and bottles are sent to landfills; empty cans from flammable liquids are sent to landfills; and cardboard boxes from drop-offs are returned to the customers for them to recycle.

There are two more mobile events this season, but permanent HHW collection facilities are open year-round.