Most people assume toxic waste is generated by large industries, which is true, however, a large amount of hazardous waste comes from households. According to the Environmental Protection Agency, 1.6 million tons of hazardous waste originates from American households each year. Some people don’t realize the effect of throwing away typical household items such as batteries or ink cartridges can have on the environment. It is important to know how to properly discard these household items.
Batteries are part of just about everything in our daily lives – cellphones, computers, flashlights—and sometimes we take those for granted. But did you know the acid inside batteries turns corrosive and dangerous when burned or pitched in a landfill? Batteries contain harmful metals and chemicals that can leak into our air and water if they are disposed of in the trash. Thanks to the Mercury-Containing and Rechargeable Battery Management Act, you have more recycling options when it comes to disposing of batteries.
Nowadays, you can drop off batteries at retailers such as Walgreens, RadioShack and Staples. These and other retailers have partnered up with Call2Recycle, a free rechargeable battery and cell phone collection organization. Recycled batteries are melted and broken down into their component metals, which are re-purposed into new batteries or steel.
Can you name another hazardous household item? Well, if you ever remodeled a home or moved then you’ll most likely have paint in your basement or garage. To find out how to safely get rid of your paint, you must first determine whether your paint is oil-based or water-based. The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency considers oil-based paints as hazardous household waste because this type of paint is flammable, toxic and contains harmful solvents, resins and pigments.
There are multiple resources you can consult to help you discard your oil-based paints. One option is to donate it for reuse. You can go to Earth911 and check for donation options by clicking on “Paint donation.” Another option is to recycle. You can go to Earth911 and click on “Paint recycling” or you can reach out to your state’s Department of Sanitation. If you want to take the easy way out and properly dispose the paint, each municipality has different requirements, depending on whether or not the paint is oil- or water-based.
It seems like there’s a new version of a cell phone or television coming out every month. But did you know these items contain hazardous waste? After you replace your new electronic, consider donating it to an organization or charity. Recycling electronics prevents valuable materials from going into the waste stream. Recycling one million laptops saves the energy equivalent to the electricity used by more than 3,500 US homes in a year. So after you’re done playing with your new electronic, remember to donate or recycle your old one. With every laptop or desktop comes a printer with an essential item that is hazardous. Each year over 375 million ink cartridges are thrown away with most ending up in landfills or in incinerators. By recycling, it reduces air and water pollution and emissions associated with landfilling, incineration or the manufacturing of new cartridges. Many Walgreens, Staples and Office Maxs will refill ink cartridges for you.
Kitchen and bathroom cabinets are filled with expired or unneeded medications, traces of which have wound their way into our drinking water. Medications are perhaps the hardest things to dispose of properly. Take advantage of community drug take-back programs that allow the public to bring unused drugs to a central location for proper disposal. If you cannot find a community program to contact, you can always talk to your pharmacist about the proper disposal.
If you use fluorescent lights in your home you should know these lights contain enough mercury to be hazardous. Recycling of burned out fluorescents is one of the best ways to help prevent the release of mercury into the environment by keeping the mercury out of landfills and incinerators. You can take your burned out bulbs to your local Ace Hardware or Home Depot. If you are doing a household project and need a dumpster you should know which of the above materials can be placed in a Budget Dumpster. Contact us today to rent a dumpster and we will gladly answer any questions about items that may or may not be hazardous!
Source: Chicago Tribune