Household Hazardous Waste

The amount of waste generated by humans has grown steadily in relation to our population and our economy. The postwar period of the 1950s saw a dramatic increase in economic activity in the industrialized world. Cheap plastics and aluminum revolutionized packaging and made possible a whole range of throwaway products and packaging. Since then, technology and growth have helped push the economy forward even further. With economic growth, consumption increases and everything consumed eventually becomes waste. What we do with that waste can make all the difference. Do we bury it and hope it "goes away", or do we get creative and put it to use?

These solid or liquid materials and gas containers have outlived their usefulness and could harm people or the environment without special handling and treatment in how they are discarded. They can be flammable, corrosive, explosive or toxic, and because of these dangerous characteristics, should not be sent to the landfill or emptied into sewer systems.

Household hazardous products in Canada display one or more of the following symbols:

  • Flammable - burn easily (painting wastes, degreasers, and other solvents).
  • Corrosive - eat away surfaces and skin (rust removers, alkaline cleaning fluids and old batteries).
  • Reactive/Explosive - react violently when mixed with other chemicals, under pressure or heat (aerosols).
  • Toxic/Poison - poison or cause damage to living organisms (materials containing heavy metals like mercury, lead or cadmium).

When a product displaying one or more of the warning symbols is discarded (after considering reuse possibilities), it should be disposed of properly.

Here are some of the items brought to household hazardous waste round-ups or other hazardous waste collection sites:

  • Abrasive cleansers
  • Acetone
  • Aerosol paints and sprays
  • Air fresheners (aerosol)
  • All-purpose cleaners
  • Ammonia
  • Ant/wasp spray
  • Antifreeze
  • Auto body filler
  • Barbeque starters
  • Bleach
  • Brake and transmission fluid
  • Butane refills
  • Carbon tetrachloride
  • Car (lead-acid) batteries
  • Car waxes and polishes
  • Contact cement
  • Degreasers
  • Disinfectants
  • Drain cleaners
  • Fabric softeners
  • Floor wax strippers
  • Fungicides
  • Furniture polishes and waxes
  • Gasoline
  • Glass cleaners
  • Glues
  • Hair coloring
  • Hair perm solutions
  • Hair sprays (aerosol)
  • Insecticides
  • Kerosene
  • Laundry starch
  • Laundry stain removers
  • Lighter fluid
  • Liquid cleansers
  • Lye
  • Mildew removers
  • Muriatic acid
  • Nail polish and remover
  • Oven cleaners
  • Paint thinners and strippers
  • Paints
  • Photographic chemicals
  • Propane gas cylinders
  • Rechargeable Batteries
  • Rubbing alcohol
  • Rug and upholstery cleaners
  • Rust removers
  • Septic tank degreaser
  • Shoe polish
  • Silver and brass polish
  • Turpentine, varnish, lacquers
  • Spot removers
  • Spa and pool chemicals
  • Toilet cleaners
  • Tub and tile cleaners
  • Used oil
  • Weed killers
  • Windshield washer solution
  • Wood preservatives

Disposal of Household Hazardous Wastes

Household hazardous waste round-ups are organized by communities throughout Alberta. Items collected are sorted, packed and labeled by qualified personnel, then taken to Swan Hills Treatment Centre for safe treatment and disposal.

Precautions

Keep materials in their original containers: if cracked or broken, place the container in a leak-proof package and label it. Jars or cans of unidentified/unknown chemicals should be taken to a collection site and staff advised. Any container printed with product warning symbols or precautions about use of the product or instructions on disposal of the container should be included.

Options

There are recycling options for some hazardous wastes such as used oil, lead-acid batteries, nickel-cadmium (Ni-Cd) batteries and propane tanks. Check the Yellow Pages under Recycling or contact Alberta's Recycling Hotline at 1-800-463-6326. Recycling information is also available online at:

Alberta's Provincial Household Hazardous Waste Program

The province of Alberta provides some funding to support municipalities in segregating household hazardous waste from the overall waste stream and in managing the material at end-of life. For more information see:

 

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Updated: Mar 2, 2016