Household Hazardous Waste
What is Household Hazardous Waste (HHW)?
Many products used in our homes, yards, workshops and garages contain hazardous ingredients and need to be used and stored safely. Materials include: cleaners, auto products, paints, remodeling supplies, garden products, hobby, pool/spa cleaners, and pet products. When discarding such products, the product becomes hazardous waste.
Products from a single home may seem insignificant, yet combined with other homes, it becomes a community problem. Consider the average household has 50-75 pounds of HHW in cabinets, storage areas, garage shelves, and under sinks.
Improper disposal of hazardous waste is a growing problem. When it is used, stored or disposed of improperly, hazardous waste poses a threat to our families, pets, neighborhoods and environment. Do not throw items directly in the trash; never pour HHW on the ground or flush down the toilet, sink or drain; and never pour HHW in the gutter or storm drain inlet. Storm drains flow directly to the Arkansas River and Fountain Creek.
What Makes a Product Hazardous?
All hazardous products exhibit at least one of these properties:
Can burn skin on contact and can eat away the surface of other materials
Can react with air, water, or other substances to produce toxic vapors or explosions
Substance or vapor that can cause damage to skin, or other living tissues by contact
Can cause injury or death when inhaled, eaten, swallowed, or absorbed through the skin
Easily ignites and burns rapidly - Inflammable means flammable
Are These in Your Home?
Air conditioning refrigerants
Automotive batteries (Lead)
Car Wax and cleaners
Carburetor and fuel injection cleaners
Transmission and brake fluid
Tub, tile, shower cleaners
Wood and metal cleaners and polishes
Ant sprays and baits
Cockroach sprays and baits
Flea repellents and shampoos
Mouse and rat poisons and baits
Lawn and Garden Products
Arts and Crafts supplies
Batteries (alkaline, NiMH, Lithium)
Fluorescent light bulbs
Mercury thermostats or thermometers
Nail polishes and remover
Science kit chemicals
Adhesives and glues
Fixatives and other solvents
Oil or enamel based paint
Paint strippers and removers
Paint thinners and turpentine
Stains and finishes
Reduce the Waste
The best way to keep homes clear of HHW is to limit how much is purchased. Some products, such as antifreeze, do not have easy substitutes, but many household cleaners are phasing out the more dangerous ingredients. When purchasing cleaning products, check for the words ‘biodegradable’, ‘highly concentrated’ and if it is made from plants or other renewable resources.
Baking soda and vinegar, as well as citrus oils have always been effective natural cleaners in contrast to many “fatal-if-swallowed” products under the kitchen sink. Regardless of your home’s needs, check first to see if environmentally sound alternatives are available.
Plan ahead for household projects. Ask a family member, friend or neighbor if they may have remaining products that they no longer need.
Store properly, use it up…or offer to a neighbor or family member.
If you must buy a larger quantity of an item that you cannot completely use in one season, store it per the label direction so it does not spoil, expire or get damaged by temperature or weather.
Check out the A-Z Recycle list to find Pueblo locations for disposal of household hazardous items. Fees may apply, call ahead.
Safe Disposal Tips
- Look for any disposal instructions or an information phone number on the item label. The product manufacturer may be able to provide disposal advice.
- Determine if the hazardous item is dried up, or in solid form. It is legal for households to dispose of hazardous solids/powders/granules in their weekly trash service (double bag and tie or tape closed).
- If the item is a liquid, make it a solid (stabilize). Open the container in a well-ventilated area and carefully pour in fresh cat litter (clay absorbent), then replace container lid and gently mix. Dirt, soil, or sand may also be used to make it inedible for pets or children. Double bag item, then tie or tape bag closed, and place in trash bin just before pick-up day. This process reduces the chance of spills in the trash truck or leakage at the waste transfer station or landfill.