Today’s Zero Waste tip is about household hazardous waste, what it is, and how to dispose of it responsibly.
If you’re like most Americans, then you regularly use hazardous substances in your home. The Environmental Protection Agency estimates that the average U.S. household generates 20 pounds of hazardous waste annually. These materials are defined as products that can catch fire, react or explode under certain circumstances and materials that are corrosive or toxic.
If the box or bottle has a skull and cross bones on it, then it’s poisonous or dangerous but even basic cleaning products you buy at the grocery store could be candidates for disposal at Boulder County’s Household Hazardous Materials Management Facility.
While it’s easy to think that throwing a spray bottle containing a small amount of pesticide or bleach or a harsh cleaning product in the trash won’t hurt anything, remember that if all 300,000 or so Boulder County residents made that a habit, we could have some serious environmental and public health problems on our hands. The cumulative effects of improper disposal of seemingly harmless amounts of hazardous waste can really add up.
Hazardous materials should never, ever, go in your recycling bin, because they pose a serious safety issue for workers at the Boulder County Recycling Center nor should they go to the landfill where they can cause myriad problems from fires and explosions to release of toxic gases and poisonous leaks that can contaminate soils and groundwater, the unintended consequences could be disastrous.
Fortunately, Boulder County’s Household Hazardous Waste Management Facility accepts and safely disposes of many kinds of hazardous wastes commonly found at home.
The facility is located immediately west of the Boulder County Recycling Center on 63rd Street in Boulder and is open Wednesday through Saturday from 8:30 am to 4:00 pm.
Residents of Boulder County may use the facility free of charge to dispose of as much as 400 pounds of hazardous materials daily. Visitors from outside Boulder County are charged a $35 use fee. Hazardous materials deposited at the facility are sorted and either recycled or shipped to other facilities specially designed to handle and dispose of them.
While the full list of materials accepted is too long to read now, please be sure to check the list on the facility’s website. I guarantee that most of us are throwing stuff in the trash that should go to the Household Hazardous Waste Management facility instead.
In addition, the facility has a free reuse store that is well-stocked with containers of lawn and automotive products, paint thinners, household cleaning products, paints, and other items. The facility has a Reuse in Action contest monthly and winners receive free gift cards. In 2016, more than 7,000 residents reused 92 tons of perfectly good materials that were otherwise destined for disposal. Wow!
Next time you clean out the garage or finish that remodel project, you’ll know where you can safely deposit any hazardous left-overs.
KGNU will bring you recycling tips and covering zero waste issues throughout the year in partnership with Eco-Cycle, thanks to a grant from Boulder County.