Household hazardous waste
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Household hazardous waste (HHW), sometimes called retail hazardous waste or "home generated special materials', is post-consumer waste which qualifies as hazardous waste when discarded. It includes household chemicals and other substances for which the owner no longer has a use, such as consumer products sold for home care, personal care, automotive care, pest control and other purposes. These products exhibit many of the same dangerous characteristics as fully regulated hazardous waste due to their potential for reactivity, ignitability, corrosivity, toxicity, or persistence. Examples include drain cleaners, oil paint, motor oil, antifreeze, fuel, poisons, pesticides, herbicides and rodenticides, fluorescent lamps, lamp ballasts, smoke detectors, medical waste, some types of cleaning chemicals, and consumer electronics (such as televisions, computers, and cell phones).
Certain items such as batteries and fluorescent lamps can be returned to retail stores for disposal. The Rechargeable Battery Recycling Corporation (RBRC) maintains a list of battery recycling locations and your local environmental organization should have list of fluorescent lamp recycling locations. The classification "household hazardous waste" has been used for decades and does not accurately reflect the larger group of materials that during the past several years have become known as "household hazardous wastes". These include items such as latex paint, non-hazardous household products and other items that do not generally exhibit hazardous characteristics which are routinely included in "household hazardous waste" disposal programs. The term "home generated special materials" more accurately identifies a broader range of items that public agencies are targeting as recyclable and/or should not be disposed of into a landfill.
HHW is not regulated by the EPA. Many states and local solid waste management departments have created and funded Household Hazardous Waste collection programs to offer safe disposal options. These programs may include home collection service, permanent facilities and one day collection events.
Although most U.S. states and federal regulations continue to permit homeowner disposal of some household hazardous waste into the solid waste stream, state agencies are becoming more stringent in enforcing existing hazardous waste regulations at the retail level.
The most extensive overview of this topic including history, policy and technical issues is contained in the 2008 book Handbook on Household Hazardous Waste, Amy Cabaniss, Editor. An additional HHW overview resource is in Chapter 10 of the Handbook of Solid Waste Management, George Tchobanoglous and Frank Kreith, Editors.
The professional organization most focused on HHW issues is the North American Hazardous Materials Management Association, NAHMMA. NAHMMA has chapters in many states, holds an annual conference, provides training and offers professional publications. In collaboration with the Solid Waste Association of North America (SWANA) NAHMMA offers certification to HHW collection professionals.
In Florida, and in other United States states, responsibility for proper disposal of retail hazardous waste falls upon the generator. Depending on the state, "proper disposal" either encourage, or in some states require, that small business hazardous waste not be disposed of through the solid waste stream, but must only be transported in accordance with DOTlicensed carriers and EPA (RCRA) regulations to a properly permitted hazardous waste TSDRF (Treatment Storage Disposal and/or Recycling Facility).
Some states allow collection of small business hazardous wastes at the same location as household hazardous wastes. However, it is more common for public collection facilities to limit hazardous waste collection to households. In 1992 the US EPA issued a policy that allowed states the option to collect and mix household hazardous wastes with conditionally exempt hazardous wastes from small businesses. This has encouraged a trend of local collection programs evolving from household hazardous waste only to also include small business hazardous waste collection.
Pennsylvania has introduced the Covered Device Recycling Act.
Similar regulations, such as the Waste Electrical and Electronic Equipment Directive are being introduced in the countries of the European Union.
- Summary of Hazardous Waste Regulations » Waste Management » Florida Department of Environmental Protection (FDEP)
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