The list of parties responsible for safe hazardous waste disposal include places like pharmaceutical manufacturing facilities, dental offices, construction companies – but also the average household.
Though the average household doesn’t generate hazardous waste in the way a pharmaceutical plant would, it can still accumulate hazardous waste that requires proper disposal. According to the EPA, “Leftover household products that contain corrosive, toxic, ignitable, or reactive ingredients are considered to be household hazardous waste (HHW). Products, such as paints, cleaners, oils, batteries, and pesticides, that contain potentially hazardous ingredients require special care when you dispose of them.”
Throwing your household hazardous waste (HHW) away alongside your regular trash isn’t illegal, but it’s certainly not advisable. It can pose a serious threat to sanitation workers, contaminate wastewater treatment systems or septic tanks, and harm children or pets that unwittingly come into contact with it.
Because most people have hazardous products in their home but aren’t sure what to do with them, they have a tendency to just gather dust in garages or sheds. If this a problem you can relate to, it’s a good idea to familiarize yourself with your disposal options so you can (finally) do some spring-cleaning.
- The simplest solution is to find out if your community offers year-round household hazardous waste (HHW) collection. Ideally, this will include an exchange that would allow for re-use of certain products. You should be able to get this information by calling your local municipality.
- Alternately, a lot of communities have specially designated HHW collection days you can take advantage of. Make good use of your chosen search engine!
- You can also turn to local businesses. The EPA website lists local garages, where they might accept used motor oil for recycling, as an example.
You should also consider limiting your purchase of products that contain hazardous materials. There are many “green” alternatives available that can achieve similar results while helping protect the environment.