3 Things to Note When Managing Hazardous Household Waste

As a homeowner interested in maintaining a clean home, you need an efficient system to remove garbage from your home. However, as you've probably learnt, not all garbage is created equal.

Certain types of rubbish are considered more hazardous based on the potential to harm people and/or the environment. These include batteries, pesticides/herbicides, pool chemicals, solvents, liquid fuels, fluorescent lamps, asbestos-containing materials, oven cleaners etc. You can't dispose of these items with the regular garbage, and hence you should plan for appropriate disposal to avoid endangering your family or the environment. This article offers some ideas related to rubbish removal.

1. Recycle

Many garbage collection services have provisions for collection of hazardous waste products. Some items can be recycled by delivering at relevant recycling centres. These include:

  • Motor oil – in some places, discarding motor oil is considered illegal because of the potential harm to the environment. Instead, motor oil should be collected and taken to a collection facility where it can be cleaned and reused as boiler fuel or reprocessed into lubricating oils and greases

  • Used batteries – both dry cell batteries and car batteries can be taken to recycling centres. Care should be taken when handling car batteries, which contain sulphuric acid, lead and plastic components.

  • Oil filters – metal components are removed and recycled in new materials, while oil is burned as fuel

2. Send to approved disposal centres

Certain products present a unique disposal challenge because of the potential for contamination. For instance, hazardous or expired chemicals should not be thrown on the ground because they can seep into the ground and come into contact with the water table, contaminating it. Certain local councils have hazardous waste management programs, where pesticides, herbicides and toxic cleaners can be delivered.

However, such chemicals should be used sparingly and stored off-ground to avoid potential contamination of water sources. Mix only the amount needed and be sure to use according to label instructions.

Lamps and bulbs contain small amounts of metals like mercury in form of vapour, metal halides, fluorescent gases etc. incandescent and halogen bulbs with no mercury may be placed in bags and thrown with regular trash (to prevent hurting someone in case the glass breaks). Fluorescent bulbs and lamps should be disposed in approved collection centres

3. Collect hazardous waste

Instead of paying extra to dispose of hazardous waste products in small batches, you can come together with neighbours and request periodic collection services so that you have enough waste to fill up a bin. You can reduce costs and ensure that dangerous waste is managed properly. In the interim, keep hazardous waste away from the reach of children or pets in sealed and labelled containers/boxes/bags.

Ask your service provider about hazardous wastes that shouldn't be mixed with other waste to avoid cross-contamination. For instance, asbestos or asbestos-containing materials should not be mixed with other types of waste.