Hazardous waste may be the last thing on your mind when you are thinking of organizing your home, garage, or making room in a storage space. In fact, some of our clients are very surprised to discover they have hazardous waste they didn’t even know about.
Take that bright orange plastic bottle of Tide detergent. You toss it in your cart at Target and use it for cleaning your laundry. But what happens when it’s empty? Did you ever consider that you need to think twice before simply tossing it in your trash or recycling bin? Probably not, as most people do not realize that if it has three inches or more left in the bottom – then it is considered hazardous waste.
Are You Improperly Disposing Household Hazard Waste?
According to the NY Times, Tide contains trace levels of the chemical 1,4 dioxane. The Environmental Protection Agency considers the chemical a probable carcinogen, when small amounts of it form during the manufacture of a wide range of detergents, shampoos, and certain drugs.
The Top 8 Household Hazardous Waste Items in Your Home Right Now
What falls into the category of household hazardous waste? A full list would put you to sleep, so we’ll pass on the obvious, like bleach, drain cleaners and paint, to include just a few:
- Aerosols (air fresheners/cleaners)
- Batteries (all sizes)
- Computer equipment
- Fluorescent lights
- Nail polish remover
- Toilet cleaners
- Oven cleaners
How to Deal with Household Hazardous Waste?
Once you realize you have plastic bottles or rusted metal cans that contain waste, you can’t just throw them out in your garbage. The questions is, “how to best dispose of it them?” A decade ago, you might have faced a dilemma. Today, you have lots of options. Recycling centers have sprung up in many cities and counties to meet California’s more stringent regulations around everything from one-time-use batteries to used computer equipment.
Household Hazardous Waste Rules
On a recent job, Sandy and I helped someone sort through years’ worth of items, including a number of old items determined to contain hazardous waste. We filled 44 cardboard boxes that held left over paint cans, various soaps, sprays, cleaners, powders, and oils. California safety codes set limits on how many of those boxes filled with liquids and solids you can carry in your car or truck at one time.
Different localities or recycling centers may have their own rules, so it is a good idea to check. Here is a list of the local Marin, San Francisco, and Sonoma recycling centers:
- Marin Recycling Recovery allows a liquid volume of 5 gallons and a dry weight of 50 pounds containers.
- Recology Golden Gate San Francisco allows 5 gallon containers of cooking oil, with a limit of 20 gallons a week, per household. They also allow 5 gallons of latex paint.
- Sonoma County Waste Management Agency uses the California Code 25218.5 (State transportation laws) which limit each vehicle to a maximum of 15 gallons of liquid (with a maximum of 5 gallons per container) or 125 pounds of solid material.
What to Know When Working with Household Hazardous Waste
- Never mix chemicals
- Pack the items in sturdy, non-leaking containers
- Place items in the trunk or bed of the truck and secure in place to prevent spills
If you are caught with more than the legal limit of household hazardous waste in your vehicle, California does levy fines. The California Department of Toxic Substances Control reads, “In California disposal of hazardous waste into the trash, a municipal landfill, down the drain, or at any other unauthorized point is illegal. The illegal disposal of hazardous waste is a crime and someone who illegally disposes of a hazardous waste may be subject to fines of up to $25,000 (per day, per incident) and/or imprisonment.”
Our team of organizers works with individuals, families, rental property owners, real estate agents, and estate professionals. We know the rules and how to handle household hazardous waste. If you are faced with reorganizing for any reason, contact us before you start that big project. Our years of experience can inform your decisions, while saving you time and money.