HHW is a leftover household product that has a label or ingredients that contains any of the following warnings: flammable, ignitable, corrosive, reactive, or toxic. These warnings can be found in anything from drain cleaners, motor oil, to pesticides.
Disposing HHW down the drain, sewer, or trash can cause chemicals and toxins to pollute our environment, especially our ground water supply which can contaminate our parks, drinking water, farms and more. Recycling HHW conserves resources and energy that would otherwise be expended in the production of more hazardous materials.
There are several different types of paints and solvents. Some paints, like latex, are not considered hazardous, while oil based paints are. Here’s how you can properly handle your paints and solvents:
LATEX PAINT (water-based acrylic paint) contains water-soluble binders so it is not considered a hazardous waste, thus you can put it in your trash can as long as the paint is dry or solidified first. To dry out your paint can, try mixing in kitty litter, paint hardener, or saw dust and leave the lid off. Once the liquid has dried and is not runny, you can throw it with the rest of your household trash.
OIL BASED PAINT is made out of synthetic resins derived from petroleum and when not properly stored or recycled the vapors and chemicals can pose a health threat on our environment.
SOLVENTS like stains, varnishes, lacquer, acetone, and turpentine should never be put down the drain, toilet, or poured outside.
Empty paint & solvent cans and containers cannot be recycled because of their toxic residue and should be thrown in the trash.
Household chemicals and cleaning products, such as: pesticides, fertilizers, detergents, and sprays can contaminate our groundwater, rivers, and soil when not properly disposed. Not to mention they can have serious effects on human health if they are ingested, absorbed through the skin, or inhaled.
Play it safe and look for warning labels to help determine if your chemical or cleaner might be toxic: “Harmful if swallowed” “Hazards to humans and domestic animals” “Skin and eye irritant”
Household cleaner containers, such as Clorox bottles, tile scrub bottles, etc., can be recycled if the container is plastic or metal, accepted in the local program, and is completely empty.
Think less toxic options. It’s easy and usually less expensive to make your own non-toxic cleaners which are healthier for you and our environment.
Batteries (all kinds)
BBQ Propane Tanks
Finishes and Stains
Fluorescent Light Bulbs
Motor Oil Filters
Paint & Solvents
Radioactive Materials (i.e. smoke detectors)
All automotive oil, antifreeze, and coolants are environmentally hazardous because of the blend of additives, such as lubricants, buffers and corrosion inhibitors. Even if the label says “Non-Toxic” or “Less-Toxic” they should be treated with caution and disposed of appropriately.
Do not dispose of oil or antifreeze in the trash because liquid can leak in a trash truck and spill onto our roads. Clean up spills with an absorbent (kitty litter, shredded newspaper, vermiculite, rags, etc.), then bag waste materials and discard in the trash. Dilute the soiled area with water.
Collect and store used oil or antifreeze in sealed and labeled, plastic or metal container, away from heat sources, children, and pets. The original container is best. Do not mix with any other substance and if you accidentally do, be sure to tell the HHW Collection Center.
To learn more, see the EPA’s Household Hazardous Waste Website