It’s normal for your household to accumulate different kinds of wastes. There are the usual food wastes, plastic, glass, paper, and metals, among others. Then there are also those hazardous household wastes that can be challenging to manage and dispose of. Usually, this kind of waste is what’s left of household items that contain toxic chemicals and substances.
How To Identify Hazardous Household Waste
Generally, anything that says ‘flammable,’ ‘explosive,’ ‘corrosive,’ ‘toxic,’ or ‘poisonous’ on their labels is considered hazardous. You can’t treat them the same way you would in your other garbage at home. These unsafe scraps should be thrown away accordingly or they could potentially harm the environment or damage your household systems such as your plumbing if you’re to pour down the drain the corrosive substances you want to dispose of.
Here’s a list of the most common hazardous waste that can be found in any household:
- Lighter fluid
- Drain cleaners
- Lawn chemicals
- Old propane tanks
- Chlorine bleach
- Fire extinguishers
- Pool chemicals
The list could go on and on, so if you have these items at home, you need to educate yourself on the proper ways to get rid of them. There are companies such as Same-Day Rubbish Removal and others, as well as certain government agencies, who can help you out if you need assistance when disposing of such wastes.
The Waste Menace
A rule of thumb when managing your waste at home is to never throw away something you’re not sure if it’s a regular waste or not. It’s better to be safe than sorry, and that heavily applies when segregating and eliminating household garbage.
To help you out, here’s a list of the different types of hazardous waste you’ll come across and what you can do to discard them for good:
- Reactive Waste: These are wastes that are sensitive enough and can react with substances like water and air. When a reaction occurs, it can cause explosions or rapid heating. Examples of these are acid wastes that may disperse when exposed to high heat and then mixed with water.
- Corrosive Waste: When something is corrosive, it can eat away living tissues and other materials. An example of corrosive waste would be battery acid.
- Ignitable Waste: Ignitable wastes like kerosene, gasoline, nail polish remover, and charcoal lighter fluid can burn easily or catch fire.
Storing Hazardous Household Waste
Wastes aren’t supposed to be stored and kept in the household for long. Their bottles or containers, along with the substances they contain, could degrade as time passes by. In addition, you might not notice if their labels aren’t readable anymore, and that could make it even more hazardous than they already are.
However, storing them might just be the last resort you could do for now, especially if you don’t know yet how you can dispose of them safely. What you can do is keep the items on high cabinets or lock them away in dry areas where children and pets can’t reach them. The label should be legible so you won’t have a problem recognizing its content even after some time.
Hazardous products must also be stored in their original container as transferring them might only expose you to more hazards and dangers. Containers and bottles must be tightly closed upon storing. Organize similar items together so you can prevent any possible reaction in case any leakage or spillage occurs.
Disposing Of Hazardous Household Waste
What works for ordinary household wastes won’t be safe for hazardous ones you need to dispose of. You can find more information about it in your local community as ordinances also vary depending on where you live. Different areas have different waste management and disposal for dangerous household items, so you need to be aware of them. Some landfills would allow liquid wastes to be thrown away in the drain while others are stricter about it.
In general, you have to be aware of these local rules when it comes to disposing of your high-risk garbage. Other than that, you can also follow common disposal recommendations such as:
- Follow what’s on the label. Before discarding something, check its label first for disposal instructions from the manufacturer.
- Buy only what you need so there won’t be an unnecessary waste. Avoid buying gallons of pesticides or paint if you only plan on using a portion of them.
- Recycle if you can. Paints that have been stored for a long time may still be used by mixing them with other colours so you can have a brand-new mixture you can use for future do-it-yourself projects.
- Donate as many products as you can. Before thinking of disposing of items you no longer need, see if there’s a way for you to give or donate. Household cleaners and paints might be of good use to local organizations so consider that option before eliminating the items.
There are also local programs available in communities that could help you in discarding waste properly. Be in the know and watch out for a chemical cleanout that happens now and then to promote responsible elimination of hazardous waste.
It’s not an easy task to manage hazardous waste at home. When done improperly, it won’t only be dangerous to your health but also to the environment. You may follow the recommendations mentioned above so you can better store and dispose of these household items moving forward.
Kate Sanders is an AB Communication student. She is also an environmental advocate who volunteers part time for non-government organizations that support responsible waste management. She writes during her free time with the goal to spread environmental awareness. She also enjoys cooking, going to the gym, and watching K-drama series.