Many Michigan residents have spent the last few months during the COVID-19 pandemic decluttering their homes and garages. Depending on your locally sponsored collection programs, you may only have a few more months to get rid of your household hazardous waste (HHW) through these programs, as many drop-off sites stop collecting HHW in the fall.
HHW includes products purchased and used every day in homes that can harm us or the environment, if they are not handled properly.
"Many common household products contain toxic chemicals that are not well suited for disposal via the regular trash, which goes to a landfill," said Jeff Spencer of the Sustainable Materials Management Unit in EGLE's Materials Management Division. "Disposal of household hazardous waste in a landfill can impact our ground water and surface water. When they are disposed in landfills, they can leach out as the waste decomposes naturally, then pass through the landfill leachate treatment systems and enter our rivers and lakes."
To see if a material is an HHW, look for words such as "warning," "caution," "flammable," "toxic," "poison," "corrosive," "oxidizer," etc., on the labels. If you have leftover, unwanted household materials that are hazardous, it is best to routinely take them to a local HHW collection, if one is available.
Never pour HHW into a storm drain or down a drain in your home. If a collection is not available, contact your trash hauler to see if there are special instructions for safely disposing of the material in the regular trash.
If you have HHW and want to keep it out of the landfill, check with the following:
Many HHW collection programs have altered drop-off schedules because of the Covid‑19 pandemic, and many commonly halt operations for the year in the fall. In addition, many sites require people to wear masks in their cars as they drop off materials, having materials ready in their vehicle's trunk (preferably in a cardboard box) so it's ready for staff to easily remove the items.
Contact the collection program before making a trip to be sure they take your materials and that you have the HHW properly prepared for safe transport.
Note, too: Unwanted medications, are often collected by law enforcement or pharmacy-based programs. To find household drug disposal options, see the EGLE interactive map. When disposing of personal protective equipment (also known as PPE) or disinfection materials related to COVID-19 used to prevent the spread of the COVID-19, please put it in the regular trash — just make sure it is closed tightly to prevent exposure.
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