TOWN OF ISLIP, N.Y. (CBSNewYork) – Long Island officials want to warn people against tossing hazardous waste into recycling bins.

They say dangerous items have been showing up at recycling centers.

One person threw gunpowder cans into a curbside bin recently, setting off an explosion inside a garbage truck.

“Just so stupid not to think about the safety of others,” witness Roseanne Benisatto told CBS2’s Carolyn Gusoff.

The safety of the collectors and the people who sort the recycling piece by piece is at stake.

MORE: Have You Been Recycling Wrong? What To Do With That Greasy Pizza Box, And More

At one Town of Islip facility, officials say every day there’s dangerous trash amid the mounds of recyclables sent by good-intentioned residents.

“Propane tanks, you have hypodermic needles, you have ammunition,” said Department of Environmental Control Commissioner Martin Bellew.

The plant was recently evacuated after industrial acid was sent for recycling. Officials say they’ve also discovered fireworks, combustible solvents and bullets.

“Bullets, for one, they can explode, batteries can explode,” Bellew said.

Just becomes it comes in a metal or glass container doesn’t mean it’s recyclable. Officials are now on an awareness campaign, urging residents to check their list of hazardous household waste. Aerosol cans, electronics, fertilizers, laundry products and cleaning products should all be brought to the recycling facility separately.

“In one way, I guess they’re thinking they’re adding to the recycling, but in one way, they are hurting us,” said Bellew.

“This is the beginning of a public awareness campaign, designed to educate the public about what is appropriate to dispose of in household waste, and what is considered a hazardous waste, in order to keep our employees and residents safe,” Supervisor Angie Carpenter said in a statement.

Check your municipality’s protocol on hazardous waste.

“I generate a lot of waste, so I try to minimize that. And if it can be used again, then it’s helpful to the whole world,” said Benisatto.

The warning comes as the world recycling market is in crisis with China no longer buying. Islip official say there is still a market if recyclables are separated, clean and safe.


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