The US EPA defines household hazardous waste as:
“Hazardous products used and disposed of by residential as opposed to industrial consumers. Includes paints, stains, varnishes, solvents, pesticides, and other materials or products containing volatile chemicals that can catch fire, react or explode, or that are corrosive or toxic.”
Where to take your HHW
Hazardous waste cannot be disposed of by throwing it in a dumpster or putting it on your curb with your other garbage and recyclables. It requires special handling and treatment. Luckily, there are a few places you can take your HHW and they will handle the dirty work for you!
What you need to know
Examples of household hazardous waste are:
Consumer paint products
Corrosives (such as oven cleaners and drain cleaners)
Pharmaceuticals (unused medications and hypodermic needles)
Pressurized-flammable gas containers (such as propane BBQ tanks and single use tanks)
Solvent and flammable liquids (such as gasoline, anti-freeze, and paint strippers)
Swimming pool chemicals
Consumer electrical and electronic equipment
Products containing mercury (includes thermometers and fluorescent lighting)
The Dangers of HHW
All HHW poses serious environmental and human health threats if disposed of in your regular household waste. Explosive and flammable wastes can pose a threat to the garbage collectors and landfill employees. HHW can also pollute groundwater, soil and air. Hazardous waste, if taken to the landfill, with the rest of your garbage can leach into the surrounding soil and groundwater causing environmental damage.
Protecting the Environment
The best way to protect the air, water and soil from the improper disposal of household hazardous wastes is to avoid purchasing these products in the first place. There are many alternatives that are safer for you and safer for the environment. Considering these alternatives helps you avoid thinking about how to safely dispose of hazardous waste at all. Some of these alternatives include:
1. Reducing the amount of hazardous waste you need to dispose of by purchasing environmentally friendly cleaning products.
2. Reusing is another important way to reduce the amount of HHW that you need to get rid of. Buying rechargeable batteries and repairing, upgrading or donating electronic equipment are some examples of how you can reuse items that would otherwise need to be disposed of at a HHW Collection Centre.