Household Hazardous Waste (HHW)
Household hazardous waste (HHW) is products we purchase every day that contain materials that could harm us or the environment if improperly handled. Common products that could be HHW are pesticides, cleaners, paints, stains, personal care, and electronic products. Look for words such as 'warning,' 'caution,' 'flammable,' 'toxic,' 'poison,' etc. on the labels. Many of these products are not used up and are stored in homes, basements and garages across Michigan. By making sure products are used up and used properly or taken to a local HHW collection, you can protect your family and the environment.
You can reduce HHW by:
- Checking the label before you buy. If you see a cautionary notice, understand that this material will become a household hazardous waste if not used up properly.
- Using the product as the manufacturer instructs. Companies are required to test their products to comply with federal regulations. Directions should be followed to get maximum benefit from the products you use without compromising your safety.
- Buying only what you need. Surprisingly, some products cost more to dispose than they do to purchase. Using forethought when purchasing these products may save your community the cost of disposing of them as HHW.
- Storing products safely. Children, pets, and others may accidentally injure themselves when products are not safely stored. Make sure potential HHW is stored out of harm's way.
If you have questions about proper handling of household hazardous waste, contact your local HHW program, recycling coordinator, wastewater treatment plant or department of public works.
Please use the links provided to obtain information about hazards in household products, where a collection program is operating near you and what you can do to reduce hazards in your home and community.
Many of the following sites are neither endorsed nor supported by the Michigan Department of Environmental Quality. This list is provided to help you find more information about household hazardous waste management and provide general information about what you can do to protect Michigan's natural resources and your environment.
COLLECTING HHW IN MICHIGAN
- Collecting Small Business (CESQG) Waste at a Michigan HHW Program: Operational Memo #121-2, Revision 1
- Local HHW Programs in Michigan
- List of HHW Collection Companies that operate in Michigan
GENERAL HHW INFORMATION
- Earth 911. By typing in your zip code, you can find local information for managing household hazardous waste in your community.
- Household Hazardous Materials - A Guide for Citizens. This is an on-line course developed by the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) to help residents handle potentially hazardous household materials in an emergency.
- National Capital Poison Center 800-222-1222. This national program fields thousands of poison calls every year when someone accidentally ingests common household products.
- North American Hazardous Materials Management Association (NAHMMA). The purpose of NAHMMA is to advance education, foster communication, encourage policy development, recognize exemplary programs and provide professional development opportunities.
- Pollution Prevention Regional Information Center. This section contains basic information about what HHW is, and the scope of the issue in the U.S. This information should prove useful to those seeking general understanding of HHW, including policymakers, grant writers, trade groups, researchers, journalists, and those newly assigned to the issue.
- Talking Trash. This MDEQ brochure provides information about what materials are banned from landfill disposal in Michigan and proper alternative waste management options.
- U.S. EPA HHW Information. This site is an on-line resource for HHW information from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency
HHW VIDEOS: You will need a high speed connection to view the following videos properly. Many of these videos provide a good idea of what household hazardous wastes are and how collection programs operate. Please remember that regulations differ in each state and what you see may not be allowed in Michigan. Check with your MDEQ District Office Waste and Hazardous Materials Division staff or contact the Environmental Assistance Center at 800-662-9278 if you have questions. To find a program near you, see the contact list at www.michigan.gov/deqreswastecontacts.
- Batteries. Lead acid (such as car batteries), dry cell (commonly used in flashlights and toys), rechargeable (found in power tools, cameras, and phones), button batteries (found in hearing aids and watches) and more. Batteries are found everywhere and proper management is important to ensure they do not cause harm to us or the environment when we are through using them.
- US Department of Transportation Advisory . This April 3, 2009, advisory identifies the hazards posed by improper transport of batteries, confirms that all batteries are subject to DOT standards requiring packaging to prevent short circuiting, and identifies the standard can be met by packing each battery in fully enclosed inner packaging made of non conductive material or separating the batteries from each other and other conductive material in the same package, and packing the battery to prevent damage and shifting while in transport.
- US Department of Transportation Letter. This June 23, 2009, letter clarifies when the hazardous materials regulation apply to the transport of 1.5 volt dry cell batteries.
- US Department of Transportation Advisory. This October 7, 2009, advisory clarifies the hazards associated with the transport of lithium batteries, including those involved in air travel in personal portable electronic equipment (laptops, cell phone, etc.) and describes the requirements for safe transport.
- RBRC. The Rechargeable Battery Recycling Corporation sponsors free collection and recycling of rechargeable batteries throughout the country.
- U.S. EPA Information. This site is an on-line resource about batteries from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency
Compact Fluorescent Lights (CFLs) are becoming more and more popular as a good way to reduce energy use. Fluorescent light technology requires the use of minute amounts of mercury making it important that these lights be managed properly when disposed or recycled.
- Electronics such as computers, computer monitors, televisions, laptops, VCRs, cell phones, printers, computer mice, remote controls, telephones, video games, fax machines, and printers, often contain toxic materials such as lead, cadmium, chromium, mercury, and fire retardants. These products are commonly collected for recycling through HHW collections and other recycling/takeback programs. See www.michigan.gov/deqewaste for more information."
Household Medical Waste. Unwanted medicines and sharps should be managed safely when no longer needed or being disposed. Studies have shown that medicines entering our wastewater cannot always be removed by treatment process. Sharps disposed in trash can sometimes injure waste handlers.
How to Dispose of Unwanted Medicine and Personal Care Products. Website developed by the Illinois-Indiana Sea Grant and the University of Illinois Extension.
No Drugs Down the Drain. The No Drugs Down the Drain program is a public outreach program to alert California residents about the problems associated with flushing unused, unwanted, and expired medications down the toilet or drain and to provide them with other, safe and proper disposal choices.
Operating Unwanted Medication Collections - A Legal & Safe Approach. This 2006 guide developed by the Northeast Recycling Council. Although some of the information may not reflect Michigan requirements, much of this information may be useful to you if you are planning an unwanted medicine collection in your community.
Pharmaceutical Waste: Disposing of Unwanted Medication. A Minnesota Pollution Control Agency resource.
Pharmaceuticals and Personal Care Products as Environmental Pollutants. A U.S. Environmental Protection Agency on-line resource.
The Point is … Needles Hurt. This is an MDEQ brochure describing how to manage used sharps.
Prescription for Clean Water: The Safe Disposal of Unused Medications. An MDEQ brochure that provides information for medical and veterinary offices to share with their clients about safely managing unwanted medicines.
A Remedy for Residential Drug Disposal, an MDEQ brochure
Sharps Collection Programs by County. This is an MDEQ sponsored resource.
SmaRxt Disposal, a public awareness campaign sponsored by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, the American Pharmacists Association and the Pharmaceutical Research and Manufacturers of America.
For pharmacies interested in holding collections of unwanted medications, these two 2008 resources published by the Northeast Recycling Council may be helpful.
Mercury. For the past several decades, Mercury (Hg) has received increasing attention as a serious pollutant of concern due to its toxic and bioaccumulative properties.
MDEQ Mercury Pollution Prevention. This is an MDEQ sponsored resource for information about reducing the environmental impact of mercury.
- Paint. Many HHW programs collect oil-based paint and associated liquids. Latex paint does not normally contain materials considered hazardous and is not often collected for HHW disposal.
Got Leftover Paint? The Five-Point Program for Leftover Paint. National Paint and Coatings Association flyer to help residents manage leftover paint.
- Quantifying the Disposal of Post-Consumer Architectural Paint. An April 2007, U.S. Environmental Protection Agency Report.
- Pesticides are designed to be toxic so should be managed carefully.
- Radon comes from the natural (radioactive) breakdown of uranium in soil, rock and water. It can be found all over the U.S. and can get into any type of building. It is a known carcinogen and the state and federal government have developed many resources to help residents reduce their exposure.
- Michigan Radon Site An MDEQ on-line resource.
Used Oil Motor. Oil picks up small particles of metal and dirt as it lubricates a car engine. Since motor oil needs to be replaced periodically, recycling used oil is a good way to protect the environment and conserve this petroleum based product.
Household Do-It-Yourselfer (diy) Used Motor Oil and Filters Guidance - an MDEQ fact sheet.
OUTDOOR BURNING RESOURCES
- Open Burning Information, an on-line MDEQ resource.
- Mercury Policy Project
- Pharmwaste - National pharmaceutical waste management discussion
- Tox Town an on-line resource from the National Library of Medicine
WATER PROTECTION RESOURCES
- Be Stormwater Savvy an MDEQ on-line resource.