There is nothing like warming temperatures, the first sight of new green leaves and the appearance of spring flowers to turn a man’s fancy to…thoughts of reorganizing and giving a good spring cleaning to the garage. It might not be romantic, but starting the lawn care season with a garage that is actually functional, can make your weekend chores much less unpleasant. Before you grab the garbage bags and start improperly disposing of some common, but hazardous household products and materials, there are a few things you should know.
What is Household Hazardous Waste?
Leftover household products that contain corrosive, toxic, ignitable, or reactive ingredients (many of which you will find in your garage) are considered to be household hazardous waste (HHW). Products, such as paints, cleaners, antifreeze, gasoline, oils, batteries, chemical fertilizers and pesticides, which contain potentially hazardous ingredients, require special care when you dispose of them.
Improper disposal of HHW can include pouring them down the drain, on the ground, into storm sewers, or putting them out with the trash. The dangers of such disposal methods might not be immediately obvious, but improper disposal of these wastes can pollute the environment and pose a threat to human health. The good news is that many communities offer a variety of options for conveniently and safely managing HHW.
Disposal Options for HHW
Permanent collection or exchange. See if your community has a facility that collects HHW year-round. Some of these facilities have exchange areas for unused or leftover paints, solvents, pesticides, cleaning and automotive products, and other materials. By taking advantage of these facilities, materials can be used by someone else, rather than being thrown away.
Special collection days. If your community doesn’t have a year-round collection system for HHW, see if there are any designated days in your area for collecting solid waste at a central location to ensure safe management and disposal.
Local business collection sites. If your community has neither a permanent collection site nor a special collection day, you might be able to drop off certain products at local businesses for recycling or proper disposal. Some local garages, for example, may accept used motor oil for recycling.
Not sure what disposal methods are available to you? Call your local environmental, health, or solid waste agency for instructions on proper disposal. Follow their instructions and also read product labels for disposal directions to reduce the risk of products exploding, igniting, leaking, mixing with other chemicals, or posing other hazards on the way to a disposal facility. Even empty containers of HHW can pose hazards because of the residual chemicals that might remain.
Reduce Your Use of HHW.
Consider reducing your purchase of products that contain hazardous ingredients. Learn about the use of alternative methods or products without hazardous ingredients for some common household needs.
Alternatives to some HHWs
• Batteries. Rechargeable batteries are a cost-effective alternative to disposable batteries.
• Chemical fertilizers. Composting yard clippings and food scraps is an option. Manure (in measured amounts) is another alternative to chemical fertilizers.
• Gasoline. Not driving at all is the best way to reduce gasoline use. Purchasing a super-efficient hybrid or electric vehicle is the next best alternative. Carpooling, walking, bicycling, and public transportation are other viable options.
• Motor Oil. Use re-refined motor oil. Doing so will spur the market for recycled motor oil and decrease reliance on new oil supplies.
• Pesticides. Keeping homes and gardens tidy reduces the food supply for insect pests, averting the need for pesticides. Onion, garlic, and marigold plants help keep garden pests at bay.
For specific information regarding household hazardous waste please visit EPA HQ’s Household Hazardous Waste site or visit the Mississippi Dept. of Environmental Quality’s site or call 601-961-5171 or Toll-Free 1-888-786-0661.
Source: U.S. Environmental Protection Agency
MDEQ / LOCAL GOVERNMENTS SPONSOR HHW COLLECTION EVENTS
MDEQ is providing grants and technical assistance to several local governments throughout the state to sponsor upcoming collection events for household hazardous wastes (HHW). These grants will provide funding for the local HHW collection events giving citizens local options to properly and safely dispose of aerosols, corrosives, pesticides, herbicides, paints, used oil, batteries, automotive fluids, electronic wastes and other household hazardous materials. The events help to keep these hazardous materials out of local landfills.
Community Sponsor – Planned HHW Event Date
City of Cleveland – April 12
Golden Triangle Solid Waste Mgt. Authority (SWMA) – April 26
Harrison County – April 5
City of Hattiesburg – April 12
Jackson County – April 19
Madison County/Ridgeland – May 17
Pearl River County Fall – TBD
Three Rivers SWMA/ City of Oxford – April 12
Three Rivers SWMA/Lee County – April 26
Wayne County May – TBD
These dates are subject to change and other community events may be added in the near future. Interested persons should contact your local city or county officials for details. For more information on solid waste assistance grants or on a particular event in your area, contact Luis Murillo or Denise Rodgers at 601-961-5171.