Recycling and disposing of household cleaning products and hazardous materials

Recycling report card

What defines household hazardous waste?

Hazardous waste is a product that is dangerous to people, plants, and animals; this danger may include causing illness or death. The definition by the EPA for household hazardous waste is anything that can catch fire, react, or explode under certain circumstances, or is corrosive or toxic. Household hazardous waste (HHW) can be found all over your home though typically found in your kitchen, bathroom, garage, or basement.

What products contain HHW?

Many HHW is not labeled as hazardous waste, making it essential to read the labels and to see what is in the products you are using. Some of the crucial words to look for are caution, danger, poison, warning, as well as the characteristics of the product, including corrosive, flammable, reactive, toxic. If the product label tells you to keep out of the reach of children and pets, it is more than likely HHW.

Going green
Household Hazardous Waste

Some examples of HHW are bug spray, antifreeze, car waxes, and polishes, glues, hair coloring, aerosol hair spray, nail polish remover, paint thinners, rechargeable batteries, shoe polish, pool chemicals, weed killers.

Some examples of household cleaners considered to be HHW are abrasive cleaners, aerosol air fresheners, all-purpose cleaners, ammonia, bleach, disinfectants, drain cleaners, fabric softeners, glass cleaners, laundry starch, laundry stain removers, mildew removers, oven cleaners, rug and upholstery cleaners, toilet cleaners, and tub and tile cleaners.

How do you dispose of HHW?

Once you identify HHW, you must monitor the storage, use, and disposal of household hazardous materials. Improper disposal includes pouring them down the drain or toilet, on the ground, in storm drains, and in some cases, putting them in the regular trash. Improper disposal can lead to damage to the environment, sanitation workers as well as danger to pets and children.

Some suggestions for the safe handling of household hazardous wastes include:

  • Read and follow any instructions on the product label. Make a note of the instructions for use, storage, and disposal of the product.
  • When it comes to disposal of the product, make sure to read the directions for reducing the risks of products exploding, igniting, leaking, mixing with other chemicals, or posing other hazards on the way to a disposal facility.
  • When storing HHW always keep them in their original containers and never remove labels.
  • When leftovers remain, never mix HHW with other products. Incompatible products might react, ignite, or explode, and contaminated HHW might become unrecyclable.
  • Remember, even empty containers of HHW can pose hazards because of the residual chemicals that might remain.
  • Once you dispose of your HHW, we would recommend switching that product out for a more environmentally and green option.

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