Household Hazardous Waste
If you have inherited old products, or for whatever reason need to dispose of household hazardous waste (HHW), consult P²AD’s “Guide to Best Management Practices for Household Hazardous Waste and Radon” for product-specific recommendations including reuse, recycling, and disposal information. The handbook was originally designed to help local governments answer citizen inquiries about household hazardous waste. However, it is now more easily accessible through the above link. Each material type listed in the guide has a link to a database of recycling sites on the Earth’s 911 site, 1-800-CLEANUP.
Results of P²AD’s America Recycles Day Collection Event (PDF, 32KB)
Mercury — Aren’t You Curious?
If you would like additional information, click here for a list of Internet links to sites on HHW topics.
P²AD’s Household Hazardous Waste Prevention & Management Program
Household hazardous waste (HHW) is a product that is discarded from a home or a similar source that is either ignitable, corrosive, reactive, or toxic. Examples of common household hazardous wastes are used motor oil, oil-based paint, auto batteries, gasoline, and pesticides. Using national averages, it is estimated that 62 million pounds of HHW is generated by Georgians every year. This is approximately 20 pounds per household per year, and 0.3% of the total municipal solid waste stream in Georgia. Based on a statewide household hazardous waste survey to determine the storage and disposal habits of Georgians, the majority of Georgians stated that they disposed of unwanted household hazardous products in their trash. Most polled indicated that the reason they had leftover hazardous products in their home was that they had bought too much.
One approach to handling HHW in some communities is collection at recycling facilities or one-day collection events. However, most types of HHW cannot be recycled, meaning reprocessed into a new product. Those that are recyclable through an existing infrastructure, (used motor oil, antifreeze, auto batteries, some household batteries, and mercury-containing devices) are generally accepted either by county/city operated sites, private businesses, or both. Other, non-recyclable materials such as old gasoline and solvents, cleaners, pesticides, and oil- based paints, require a special collection event or a dedicated facility to collect the materials.
Once collected, an environmental contractor manages the material by incineration or fuels blending depending on the material type and specifications in their contract. Some Georgia communities have decided to collect and manage these non-recyclable types of HHW, but many have not. For those communities who wish to explore the idea, begin, or expand a HHW collection program, P2AD has an experienced staff member who can provide technical assistance. For more information on how P2AD can help local governments set up programs to manage HHW, visit the Local Government page of our website.
Even if a community has an HHW collection program, it is better from both an environmental and an economic standpoint to prevent the generation of HHW rather than collect and manage it. For example, if you personally had to pay $10 per quart to incinerate a leftover pesticide you generated, would you be more or less likely to buy less and use it all the next time? Considering that many collection programs are funded with tax dollars, this example is not too far from reality.
Even if collection and processing were free, environmentally speaking, the incineration of the wasted product produces air pollution and consumes large quantities of energy, thus expending natural resources. This points to the logic of the founding philosophy of P2AD, pollution prevention. Simply stated, when it comes to HHW, buy the least harmful product for the job, buy only the quantity you need, and use all that you buy. If you still have leftover product, give it to someone to use before its useful life is over.
Household Hazardous Waste