Tips for Properly Managing Household Hazardous Waste
The EPA estimates that each household stores as much as 100 pounds of harmful chemicals. Since Hazardous materials such as fluorescent lights (tubes or CFL bulbs), thermometers, batteries, loose sharps, liquid paints, thinners, and other hazardous liquids should never go in the trash or in your purple recycling cart, it’s important to know how to properly dispose of this material and also how to reduce the amount of this unwanted material that is generated.
For Denver residents, disposing of unwanted hazardous material is simple- the City of Denver’s Household Hazardous Waste Collection Program can help you safely and conveniently dispose and recycle these items. Denver residents may use this appointment-based program once per calendar year for only a $15 copayment. To schedule a collection appointment, call 1-800-HHW-PKUP (1-800-449-7587) or visit DenverGov.org/DenverRecycles for program details.
To safely manage household hazardous materials and reduce the amount of household hazardous waste generated in your home in the first place, consider the following tips:
1. Buy only what you need. Reduce the amount of chemicals you bring into your home, and use up the chemicals you currently have before purchasing more. Avoid stockpiling chemicals that you are not using, that have expired, or that are in poor condition and follow the manufacturer’s label for proper disposal.
2. Read your labels. Understanding the chemical characteristics will allow you to properly handle, store and dispose of chemicals. Labels inform consumers of incompatibility with other products to avoid cross contamination.
3. Keep hazardous materials in their original containers to prevent accidental mixing. Container labels should be securely affixed and missing labels should be replaced. Properly label all transfer containers with the contents to avoid cross contamination. To avoid accidental ingestion, chemicals should never be transferred to containers that originally contained food (such as soda bottles or milk jugs).
4. Ensure all lids are sealed and containers are in good condition. Containers should be in good condition and lids properly secured to prevent spills and the release of vapors.
5. Go Green! Use alternative non-toxic products instead of hazardous chemicals whenever possible. For example, a baking soda and vinegar combination can be used to clear clogged drains.