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R ecycling is one of those things you know you should do. But while finding a way to dispose of plastics and paper is generally easy, it takes more effort to figure out where to take cellphones or batteries or CD cases — or any of the myriad things that clutter our households but might not be accepted by our trash or recycling services, or places such as Goodwill.
Your phone can make it easier, with apps that use your location to tell you where to recycle items. I tried two: iRecycle and 1800Recycle, both free and both available for iOS and Android.
They share another trait. Both are offshoots of businesses. iRecycle is run by Earth911, a website that "connects advertising partners with consumers in all aspects of their daily lives." 1800Recycle is powered by Recycle Nation, a "dynamic recycling and green living-focused website," which is, in turn, part of Electronic Recyclers International. All this is to say that helping you recycle your stuff is not the first priority of the apps' creators.
IRecycle tells you where to recycle 12 kinds of items on its home screen: automotive, batteries, construction, electronics and so on. Tap on batteries, and up pops a list of 13 types, including car batteries and marine batteries. Tap on alkaline batteries, and you get a list of places that accept them; tap on a location and you get general info and a link to a map. I learned that Mom's Organic Markets take alkaline batteries. I also saw something called the Big Green Box, a mail-in recyling program, near my office. But there was no address listed other than Rhode Island Avenue, however, and when I tried to find it using the map, the app led me to Scott Circle, which does not in reality feature a Big Green Box.
Rather than listing categories, 1800Recycle starts with a search: Start typing in b-a-t-t — and up come three options: rechargeable, alkaline/single use, and button and cellphone. Tap on alkaline and you get a map with locations; each location includes an information button, which opens to list what the site does and doesn't accept. 1800Recycle's results didn't include the nonexistent Big Green Box and did include several places that were not in iRecycle's results, including Whole Foods Market. But if I wanted to recycle a car battery, I would have had to search under automotive and look at each location.
Bottom line: For the most comprehensive recycling information, you might want to download both these apps. And always call to confirm.