Household Hazardous Waste: What it is and what to do with it
Household Hazardous Waste (HHW) or Household Hazardous Materials (HHM) are household products that are, well, hazardous! This includes products that are flammable, corrosive, explosive, toxic, or the like (2018 EPA). Paint, stains, some cleaning products, fertilizers, some types of oils and and more qualify as HHW.
Disposing of Household Hazardous Waste
HHW cannot be thrown away in the garbage—it must be disposed of properly to prevent leakage of toxic chemicals, fires or explosions. Additionally, HHW should never be dumped down sinks or toilets, storm drains, or on land. This helps protect both people and the environment around us from chemical contamination or injury.
In most cases, HHW is collected by your municipality through designated drop off days or collections. The best way to find out about how to dispose of HHW in your area is to contact your local Department of Sanitation to learn when and where you can drop it off. Some areas have annual drop offs like Orleans Parish, while others collect HHW at designated centers daily. These days, most of this information can be found online.
What Qualifies as HHW?
To know if a product is HHW, first check the label for the words flammable, corrosive, toxic, explosive, or any other phrase that makes you think twice about safety. Then, check the disposal instructions. If it says something like “this item may need special disposal” or “check with your local sanitation department for disposal instructions,” it’s probably HHW.
For reference, some common HHWs include:
Paint (latex and oil-based)
Paint Thinner and Varnish
You can properly dispose of usable latex paint
at the Green Project!
The list above is not every HHW item. Be sure to check your labels and when in doubt, look it up online or call your local sanitation department.
Reducing Household Hazardous Waste
One way to avoid the headache of properly disposing of HHW is to purchase products that are non-hazardous. Look for items that are non-toxic, not flammable or corrosive, or that can be recycled or thrown away in your curbside trash. The Environmental Protection Agency’s Safer Choice database can help you identify better, safer options.
Upcoming HHW Collection Days in Greater New Orleans: