Disposal of Hazardous Household Waste

Disposal of Hazardous Household WastesEven more important that everyday recycling is the proper disposal of potentially hazardous household waste.

I’m talking about motor oil, rechargeable batteries, car batteries, refrigerators, heat pumps, and air conditioners.  There are only a few carbon reduction points you can collect from these actions, but you can collect plenty of environmental safety points.

Let’s go down the list of most important recycling options, starting with motor oil.

I know “oil” can be a sore subject – because of its contribution to climate change and heart disease, among other things – so I won’t spout out too much on this subject.

In terms of spent motor oil,  did you know that used motor oil never wears out? It cannot be dumped just anywhere around your house or neighborhood, since it can enter storm drains and flow untreated into water sources – either ours or native animals. More and more communities have installed no dumping reminders on storm drain covers.  Unfathomable that people needed to be reminded, but the message is still getting out. Enough said.

More and more curbside recycling programs accept motor oil, usually labeled in a leak-proof plastic jug or carton.  If your does not, there are probably collection outlets nearby – which are typically any gas station with a service bay, auto shop, or hazardous waste facility.  Besides used motor oil is readily recycled, making this special effort well worth it.

Rechargeable Batteries – used in computers, power tools, shavers, electric toothbrushes, cell phones, video tape recorders, and radios.  These are classified as potentially hazardous because of the inner toxic metals which can seep out into the ground water.  Fortunately, all of these batteries can be recycled: Nickel Cadmium (Ni-Cd), Nickel Metal Hydride (Ni-MH), Lithium Ion (Li-ion), and Small Sealed Lead (Pb).  Unfortunately, a high percentage are still simply dumped in a hazardous waste landfill or incinerated.

See Green Blizzard article Household Battery Recycling – A Hassle for tips regarding battery purchase, recycling, and disposal.

As far as options of where to dispose of them, your local recycling program may collect old batteries, or you may need to bring them into a local hardware store or to a hazardous waste facility.  Here is an online rechargeable battery locator for locations around the globe.

Used Appliances – Last but not least be mindful of the toxic potential of old refrigerators, heat pumps, and air conditioners.  The rap is the same for all cooling appliances have CFCs  (CFC is chlorofluorocarbon, an organic compound that contains only carbon, chlorine, and fluorine). Make sure to have the CFC’s drained out of these appliances before disposal because CFC’s are extremely damaging to the ozone layer if released into the atmosphere.  You probably have to seek professional help to accomplish this task.  Luckily, in the Montreal Protocol agreement the US agreed to phase out CFC use, so your newer appliance model will not require this step.  Basically, if you appliance is 30 or more old, be concerned.

More and more often communities are hosting household toxics drop-off days or special pick-up services.  It may not be glamorous or even that rewarding, but taking this crucial extra step will ensure that our Earth’s flora and fauna are not exposed to a toxic picnic.  Follow through on this and the planet will surely repay you with plenty of pristine and delicious supplies for your own picnic – one devoid of motor oil, batteries, and CFC’s.

The staff at Green Blizzard found that both  How To Do Anythingis a resourceful website with ideas on how to dispose of oil, change oil and a host of other things as well as Obviously for ideas about appliance recycling.

Kenny FrankelBe sure to also read: Gift Ideas For A Green Handyman, What is Phantom Electricity?, Green Cleaning Products, Savvy Green, and Energy Efficient Windows.


About the author

Kenny Frankel

As graduate of the University of Maryland, Kenny has a major in Environmental Politics and Policy, so he's undoubtedly a guy well versed in environmental issues. Now, post college he is a practitioner of sustainable living and employed by solar installation company. We all will have a deeper green perspective after reading his articles because he brings a big picture insight to our everyday purchase decisions and even recycling.  As an early staff writer for Green Blizzard, Kenny covers environmental policy, big-agricultures impact on the environment, solar energy, recycling, and products made from recycled materials.