How do I Dispose of Hazardous Household Waste?

Harriette Halepis

The main problem that people face when trying to dispose of hazardous household waste is that most people do not know what hazardous household waste is. The Environmental Protection Agency defines hazardous waste as anything that is corrosive, poisonous, reactive, or flammable, but these categories are entirely broad. In order to dispose of waste properly, the categories listed above must be further explored.

Some hazardous household waste can be recycled; local collection centers can provide a list of items that can be recycled.
Some hazardous household waste can be recycled; local collection centers can provide a list of items that can be recycled.

Hazardous household waste includes automotive products, batteries, paints, stains, garden products, household cleaning products, electronic equipment, and pharmaceuticals. Most people have one or all of these products inside of a home, basement, garage, or backyard shed. In fact, the Environmental Protection Agency estimates that the average home has more than 100 pounds (45 kilos) of hazardous waste.

Aside from the problem of identifying which items are truly hazardous, many people have no idea what to do with those products once they have been identified. Years ago, disposing of hazardous household waste was simply a matter of tossing a battery into a garbage can, or dumping chemicals down a kitchen sink. Our society now understands the heavy impact that hazardous waste can have on the environment, which is why hazardous waste centers have been set up around the globe.

Check with your local Public Works Department to see if a hazardous waste collection program has been established. If no such program exists in your community, you may want to find a way to start one. If this is not a possibility, then there are other ways to dispose of, and reduce, waste.

Search the Internet for a waste collection program near you. Contact the collection center, and ask when you can drop off your waste. If you must wait to bring your waste to the collection center, make sure to store it properly. If an original container has been broken or tampered with, the best way to contain any liquid waste is to place it within a solid, tightly sealed, container. Any other type of waste can be stored inside of a cardboard box or a plastic box.

Some waste collection centers will charge a fee per waste item. Before bringing any amount of waste to a collection center, make sure to ask about possible fees. Also, be aware that some types of household hazardous waste can be recycled. Collection center officials will be able to answer any questions that you might have about the type of waste that you wish to dispose of.

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