Spring Cleaning: The Hazardous Waste Hiding Around Your House

Safe Disposal of Household Hazardous Waste
By: Matt Stewart

Spring cleaning season is almost upon us, and with that annual home refresh, comes a big job: cleaning out your clutter. What many people don’t know is that there are a variety of products in our homes that we shouldn’t just throw in the trash, as they may be harmful to our environment or pose health and safety risks to ourselves and our communities. 

These specific items are called Household Hazardous Waste (HHW), which the EPA defines as leftover household products that can catch fire, react or explode under certain circumstances, or that are corrosive or toxic. Disposing of HHW presents a potential risk in several ways: penalties for disposal violations, health and safety concerns and potential environmental harm. 

Some of the most common consumer HHWs that might be sitting in garages or homes include:

  • Paint – Certain paints contain flammable, toxic and harmful pigments or solvents, and older paints often contain lead.
  • Batteries – One of the most common household items to mistakenly thrown away in the trash are batteries. When batteries are not properly disposed, the materials inside, such as acid, lead and nickel, can leach into the environment. 
  • Fluorescent Light Bulbs & Tubes – These bulbs contain small amounts of toxic mercury, which is classified as a hazardous waste, therefore these light bulbs are also in the HHW category. 
  • Aerosol Cans: The propellant in aerosol cans is flammable, which puts this typical household product in the HHW category. 

Stericycle Environmental Solutions leads a variety of HHW dropoff events around the country each year to help consumers properly dispose of their HHW. When consumers are preparing for a Stericycle HHW event, here are a couple of guidelines they should know:

Weight constraints: The volume of HHW must not exceed 126 pounds per resident. For example, if you have two people in your home and attending the event, you could bring up to 252 pounds of HHW. 

Packaging constraints: Residents must be prepared to hand over the container that the waste is in. All HHW must be packaged in trash bags, cardboard boxes, plastic containers, etc., that consumers are willing to part with. Stericycle cannot accept loose items. 

Click here for a free quote or to learn more about Stericycle’s Household Hazardous Waste Solutions.