Quick Recycling Tip: How to Recycle Used Fireworks

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This post is part of an attempt to do something like 100 recycling tips for damn near anything in 100 days. When the 100 Recycling Tips are all published here on Easy Ways to Go Green, we’ll do a master list so that every link exists on one single page for everyone to be able to link to.

How to Recycle 100 Common Things: #31 Recycling Old or Used Fireworks and Casings When They’re Spent

how to recycle old used fireworks
Tomorrow, many people in many cities all over the country will be setting things on fire, and hopefully with professional supervision. Watching fireworks exploding in the sky is supposed to remind us of the celebration that is tied to our country’s inception and independence. Surely, that original meaning has been slightly eclipsed, but some of us do indeed take a moment to reflect and be grateful for all that we have here in the States.

And so we ask ourselves, upon looking down at the ground when all’s been said and done, what the heck do we do with all these spent fireworks casings? What about the ones that didn’t explode because they were duds? Or how can we weigh in at the local school or park where they’ve hired pros to light the fireworks display? Once we’ve had our fun, how do we go about recycling spent, used, or old fireworks and their casings? Is it even possible?

When possible, try to light fireworks in one designated area to ensure an easy clean-up. Always do it on a driveway or other non-flammable surface, too. When you clean up the fireworks, make sure they’re not warm, and are definitely extinguished. Clean up quickly — the same night that you light the fireworks — to avoid chemical dust or ash scattering or blowing about. When in doubt, call your local city council or city hall to find out where they prefer fireworks to be responsibly disposed or recycled.

Where do fireworks get their explosive “zing” from?  More often than not, fireworks are a potentially hazardous combination of a few dangerous, highly reactive chemicals. You light the chemicals, which in turn burn and create reactions with each other, giving off the electric, beautiful light display in front of you or up in the sky.

Large-scale fireworks like the kind that many cities use in their public displays tend to include a chemical known as potassium perchlorate, which is terrible for the environment. Because of this and many other dangerous chemicals, by and large, most fireworks by their very nature are NOT recyclable.

Categorized as explosives, fireworks are not good for the recycling bin, at least in any effective way. No matter what, though, you’ll have waste left over after lighting them off, so properly disposing of the remains is key — given the harmful chemicals, dust, irritants, heavy metals, and more.

Helpful Links on Recycling Used Bottle Rockets, Fireworks and Their Casings:

Search by “old fireworks” or “spent fireworks casings” and “Your City Name or Zip Code” at Earth 911 and find the closest recycling center near you.
Recycling Trash 101 from Household Tips includes a mention about recycling old fireworks.
Facts about Recycling Fireworks over at eHow.
Here’s a Brighthub article on Eco-friendly fireworks displays and 4th of July holidays.
Recycling used fireworks on EarthaScope.
A study by the Journal, Environmental Science and Technology links the chemical potassium perchlorate (found in many fireworks) to thyroid damage; the study has found high contamination levels in local bodies of water after large fireworks shows.
Tips for safe disposal of fireworks and other 4th of July materials like BBQ coals.
Clark County, Washington government page on where to recycle fireworks.

AND Check out this great recycling resource page on how to recycle old, tattered American flags.

Videos on Recycling Used or Old Fireworks and Casings

[Photo Via: inhabitat]

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