Silas Allen’s science project leads to new CFL recycling site at B&C True Value
The curlicue light bulbs line the shelves of most any hardware store.
They last longer than an incandescent bulb, one of their selling points. However, that bonus comes with a problem. The CFL, or compact fluorescent, bulbs also have mercury in them. That makes them dangerous to toss in the trash.
That issue gave Silas Allen, a seventh-grader at Nevada City School of the Arts, an idea. He needed a science project that fit specific criteria. “Environmental” was a category.
Setting up a new bulb recycling spot in the county was a quick thought away.
“It’s to help raise awareness about the disposal of CFLs,” Silas said. “I’m working with a ton of people.”
One of them is his father, Scott Allen. Together they contacted officials with Nevada County, Waste Management and B&C True Value in Grass Valley.
After months of collaboration, B&C will allow customers starting Monday to leave their old CFL tubes and bulbs at its 2032 Nevada City Highway location in Grass Valley. People also can leave smaller batteries there for recycling. Employees will take the items to the back, delivering them to Waste Management every two weeks.
“There’s a huge, huge need,” said Greg Fowler, co-president of B&C.
The hardware store can only accept residential fluorescent tubes and bulbs. Businesses must continue to use the McCourtney Road Transfer Station for recycling.
Private businesses have tried recycling programs before, but strict state requirements soon scuttled them, according to Steve Castleberry, the county’s Public Works director.
That left only the McCourtney Road Transfer Station and Loma Rica site for CFL tubes and bulbs. Then in January, the Loma Rica recycling location closed.
Castleberry said he doesn’t want someone with only CFL bulbs to wait in line at the McCourtney site.
“We’d really like to have some alternatives in place,” he added.
Enter Silas and his father.
According to Castleberry, Silas’ interest in recycling the bulbs spurred renewed efforts by the county to make a recycling program work.
“They brought a little energy to our efforts,” Castleberry said. “We wanted to be able to match them.”
Silas and Scott Allen began contacting the stakeholders. They discovered that any participating stores would have to sign an agreement with Waste Management. Employees would then require training, which happened this week.
Castleberry called B&C the pilot program for the recycling initiative. He wants to see the program in action for at least two weeks before thinking about a possible expansion.
“And the other thing is, the other hardware stores need to be willing to do it,” he added.
To contact Staff Writer Alan Riquelmy, email firstname.lastname@example.org or call 530-477-4239.
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