Household Hazardous Waste Alternatives

What is Household Hazardous Waste?

Many common household products contain hazardous substances.  These products become household hazardous waste (HHW) once the consumer no loner has any use for them.  The average U.S. household generates more than 20 pounds of HHW per year.  As much as 100 pounds can accumulate in the home, often remaining there until the residents move or do an extensive cleanout.

Hazardous waste is waste that can catch fire, react, or explode under certain circumstances, or that is corrosive or toxic. The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has set stringent requirements for the management of hazardous waste generated by industries.  Some HHW can pose risks to people and the environment if it is not used, stored carefully, and disposed of properly.  However, Congress chose not to regulate it because regulating every household is simply too impractical.

Government and industry are working to develop consumer products with fewer or no hazardous constituents.  However, for some products, such as car batteries and photographic chemicals, no “safe” substitutes exist.  So, communities will need effective HHW management programs for some time to come.  Hancock County offers a Tox-Drop Day in the spring for residents in Hancock County.  Be sure to watch your local paper for dates, times, and location for the 2006 Tox-Drop Day.  There are some auto parts retailers in Hancock County that will accept used automobile fluids for recycling.  In Greenfield, Autozone will accept used motor oil as long as you bring it in closed containers such as milk jugs or laundry detergent jugs. You can call them to get specific instructions at (317)467-4002.

Listed below are a few HHW items and their alternatives:

Adhesives, glue, epoxy – Use water based adhesives whenever possible

Ant Poison – Keep countertops clean and free of food and crumbs. Use bait and traps instead of sprays.

Disinfectants – Look on the label for the words “EPA REG. NO”.

Insect Repellants – Wear protective, light colored clothing.  Try citronella products.

Mothballs – Clean clothes before storing in a sealed container with cedar blocks/chips.

Paints/Solvents – Consider non-resistant materials, pretreated wood or water sealants.

Pesticides – Remove food sources, try traps, caulk entryways and choose least toxic or non-toxic.

Asphalt, roofing tar, driveway sealers – Do not allow product to run into storm drains. Consider having your driveway sealed by a professional.

Toilet bowl cleaners – Consider cleaners labeled non-corrosive.

Transmission fluid – Whenever possible, choose to have your fluid changed at a dealer that recycles.

Weed killers – Pull weeds and mulch with wood chips or grass clippings.