How to Dispose of Household Hazardous Waste

Author
Take Care of Texas
orange trash bag

If you did your spring cleaning or had extra time to tidy up while teleworking, you may have encountered some household hazardous waste items. If you’re unfamiliar with HHW, we’ve outlined the basics so you can properly dispose of those items and prevent environmental contamination.

What is Household Hazardous Waste?

Some leftover or used household products contain chemicals that can present safety concerns if not managed properly. These products are often called household hazardous waste and can include items like:

  • corrosive cleaners (such as drain cleaner and lye-based oven cleaner)
  • fluorescent light bulbs (including CFLs)
  • fuels (gasoline, propane, diesel)
  • mercury
  • paints (oil-based or some anti-mildew latex)
  • pesticides
  • pool chlorine and acid
  • wood stains or varnishes

If generated by a household, residents often seek to dispose of their HHW in a more protective manner. However, if your area does not offer a HHW program, these materials are not required to be handled as hazardous waste and can often be placed in your regular trash.

What do I do with my HHW?

Many communities in Texas either have HHW drop-off facilities or hold HHW collection events for their residents. TCEQ maintains a list of ongoing programs and individually scheduled events* posted on our HHW Program Contacts page.

*Please contact your local collection event or facility to verify operation hours, acceptance of materials, or any fees that may apply.

To protect both yourself and the workers who accept your HHW at a collection site, follow some basic guidelines and tips for storage, transportation, and care of your material:

  • Keep products in their original container and make sure labels are readable. This ensures you, and the workers who accept and sort your HWW, know exactly which products you have. 
  • Store and transport your chemicals upright, not on their sides. Make sure that if you are taking HHW to a facility or event, that you have secured it in your vehicle and it is not leaking. It can be dangerous if leaking containers of incompatible chemicals mix.
  • NEVER mix products together. This can be dangerous, even deadly.
  • Keep chemicals in a cool, dry place out of reach of children and pets.

BOPA Collections

The TCEQ does not maintain a list of collections of any combination of the following:

  • Batteries
  • Used Oil
  • Latex Paint
  • Antifreeze

These “BOPA” materials are generally nonhazardous or are regulated under other programs, so collections of only these materials are exempt from state HHW requirements.

To find a site that may accept BOPA items, check with your local city or see our publication What Do I Do With it Now? A Quick Guide to Recycling Resources (GI-288).

Managing HHW in your Home

You can decrease the HHW in your own home by using some simple guidelines.

REDUCE the amount of HHW you keep in your house:

  • Buy only what you need to do the job. Buying chemicals in bulk may not be saving you money if you do not use all of them.
  • Consider using alternative household products that do not contain hazardous materials.
  • For painting projects, know the size of your area and use an online paint calculator to determine how many gallons you should buy.

Think REUSE:

  • Pass your unexpired chemicals or paint in good condition to friends, relatives, or neighbors who can use them! Doing this will save time and money for yourself and others.

What can I do with...?

If you have any questions regarding the following items on this list, we encourage you to read more on TCEQ’s Household Hazardous Waste: A Guide for Texans webpage for disposal information.

  • antifreeze
  • compact fluorescent light bulbs (CFLs)
  • empty bottles (cleaners)
  • mercury
  • paint (partially full or usable, or empty or mostly empty)
  • smoke detectors
  • syringes
  • used oil and oil filters

Additional Resources

We’ve included some additional resources below to help you manage and properly dispose of HHW so you can help Take Care of Texas!

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