Preparing products found in your home for disposal

On this pageAcids and bases | Appliances | Asbestos-containing materials| Batteries | Cooking oil | Fireworks

Smoke detectors | Thermostats | Thermometers

Disposing of unwanted household chemicals and other products at a household hazardous waste collection event or facility is always the preferred option, but that option isn't available everywhere. The following information may be used to make small quantities of household wastes safer for landfill disposal.

Disclaimer 

These guidelines are only for wastes generated by households and may not be used for wastes generated, collected or confiscated by businesses, schools or government agencies. We have no liability or responsibility of any kind to any user or entity as a result of these guidelines. Using any or all of this guidance is solely at your discretion. Use this guidance only for the specific waste and purpose as presented. If you have mixtures of materials, do not use the procedures described unless you have a thorough understanding of the chemistry of the materials involved.

Household acids/bases

Always take extreme care when handling acids and bases, as hazardous reactions may occur and fumes may be produced.

  • Acids and bases are corrosive and can cause severe skin and eye damage.

Dilute and flush

  • Do not follow these procedures if your home is connected to a septic tank. Even in diluted form, these chemicals can destroy the bacterial action in your septic system and drain field.
  • Never dispose of acids and bases on the ground, in a storm drain or gutter, because they can contaminate groundwater, surface water and drinking water supplies.
  1. Provide adequate ventilation by opening windows and doors and/or turning on a room fan.
  2. Wear protective clothing such as chemical-resistant gloves, eye protection and long sleeves.
  3. Unless the package directions specify otherwise, carefully pour one-quarter to one-half-cup of the acid or base into 2 to 5 gallons of water, taking care not to splash or spill.
    • Always add the chemical to the water and not the water to the chemical.
    • Failure to dilute the concentrate may seriously damage pipes or other parts of your plumbing.
  4. Pour the diluted solution slowly down the drain, flushing with large amounts of water and taking care not to splash.
  5. Continue disposing in 2- to 5-gallon batches of diluted solution until completely gone.
    • Don',t mix products.Wait several hours between disposing of different types of products to allow each to clear your sewer lines.
    • The best time to do this is during the working day when the sewage system is in full use so this material passes through the municipal sewage system faster.

Back to top

 

Household appliances

Freon (chlorofluorocarbons, CFCs) must be removed from refrigerators and air conditioners before disposal.

  • While a few landfills have staff equipped and trained to remove and capture the freon, most landfills can\'t accept appliances that contain it.
  • Contact an appliance repair company with a certified CFC technician to remove the freon and tag the appliance as CFC-free.
    • Once this is done, most landfills can accept these and other appliances for recycling or disposal.
  • Some communities have "large item pickup" days to assist homeowners with disposal of items that can\'t be disposed of in their regular trash.
    • Check with local city or county government to see if it offers these services.

Earth 911
If the above options aren’t available, visit the Earth 911 website to find companies that accept appliances for recycling.

Back to top

 

Household wastes that contains asbestos

Asbestos is a naturally occurring fibrous material used in many products to add strength, durability and fire resistance.
  • Inhaling asbestos fibers can cause cancer.
  • Asbestos may be either friable or non-friable.
    • Friable asbestos can be crumbled to a powder by hand when dry and is the most dangerous form.
    • Nonfriable asbestos can’t easily be pulverized to a powder, but non-friable asbestos-containing products can be damaged to the extent that it becomes friable during handling or demolition activities.
Asbestos hasn’t been totally banned from building products and may be found in homes of any age, including new construction.
  • Products that may contain asbestos include floor tile and mastics (glue), roof shingles, wall and ceiling textures, drywall and drywall joint compound,vermiculite insulation and pipe, duct and boiler insulation.

Removal

  • The most important thing in removing, handling, transporting and disposing of asbestos is to do so in a way that prevents airborne release of asbestos fibers.
  • If you're the homeowner, you may remove asbestos from your primary residence without obtaining a permit from us.
  • Contact us for procedures you should use when removing asbestos to protect yourself and your family.
  • If you choose not to do the work yourself, you must hire a certified asbestos contractor to do the work.

Disposal

  • You and/or your certified asbestos contractor must dispose of waste asbestos materials properly.
  • Friable asbestos waste and non-friable asbestos waste damaged to the point of being friable must be properly packaged before being transported to the landfill whether you do the work yourself or have a contractor do it.
    • It must be tightly sealed in at least two 6-mil, leak-tight polyethylene bags or in a wrapping or other container we deem equivalent.
    • The outermost layer of the packaging must be labeled with a waste shipment manifest label that gives your name and address and either of the following statements in letters at least a half-inch tall:
 
CAUTION
Contains Asbestos
Avoid Opening or Breaking Container
Breathing Asbestos Is Hazardous to Your Health
 
or
 
DANGER
Contains Asbestos Fibers
Avoid Creating Dust
Cancer and Lung Disease Hazard
 
  • Not all landfills can or will accept asbestos waste for disposal.Friable asbestos and non-friable asbestos damaged to the point of being friable may be disposed of only in landfills expressly authorized to accept these wastes.
  • Contact the landfill operator for approval before transporting the waste for disposal.

Contact

Back to top

 

Household batteries

Alkaline batteries

  • Alkaline batteries manufactured in the United States no longer contain mercury.
    • These batteries can be disposed of in the regular trash.
  • Batteries often still have some charge left when disposed.
    • Place a piece of tape securely over each terminal end of the alkaline battery before placing it in the trash, or place individual batteries in a strong plastic zip-top bag before placing in the trash.

Rechargeable batteries

  • Includes nickel cadmium (ni-cad), nickel metal hydride (ni-mh), lithium (li), most button (Hg) and small sealed lead-acid (Pb) batteries. The best option is to recycle these batteries.
  • Many stores participate in the national call2recycle program.
  • Many household hazardous waste collection events and programs accept rechargeable batteries.
  • If you must dispose of batteries in the trash, place a piece of tape securely over each terminal end of the battery before placing it in the trash, or place individual batteries in a strong plastic zip-top bag before placing in the trash.

Automotive batteries

  • Automotive lead-acid batteries are prohibited from disposal in Colorado landfills.They\'re generally turned in for recycling at the time a replacement battery is purchased.
  • Some battery retailers will accept additional automotive batteries for recycling even if you don\'t make a purchase.
  • Some household hazardous waste collection programs accept automotive batteries.

Back to top

 

Household cooking oil

A few household hazardous waste programs collect used animal and vegetable oils for biodiesel generation.

  • Most are available only for a few days following major holidays like Thanksgiving.
  • Local governments that sponsor cooking oil collection programs often advertise them in utility bills and the local newspaper.
    • Contact your local government to learn whether this service is offered.

If a collection program isn't available

  • Landfills aren't allowed to accept liquid wastes, so animal or vegetable oil should be solidified by mixing it with cat litter or other absorbent to the point that the absorbent is moist, but not dripping.
  • ​​The moist absorbent should be double-bagged in trash bags and can then be put in the trash.
  • If you have a large quantity of animal or vegetable oil, check your phone directory for rendering plants or other recyclers.

Back to top

 

Household fireworks

Most household hazardous waste facilities don't accept fireworks for disposal. Contact local law enforcement to see if they have a disposal program.

  1. Soak the fireworks in water until they are completely saturated.
  2. Wrap the wet fireworks in double trash bags.
  3. Store safely away from children and pets.
  4. Place the packaged waste in your trash on the day it's picked up or taken to the landfill.

Back to top

 

Household smoke detectors

Smoke detectors can be one of two kinds: photoelectric or ionizing

  • The ionizing variety contains a small amount of radioactive material, americium-241.
  • A smoke detector with an ionizing sensor will usually indicate on its back that it shouldn’t be disposed of in the regular trash.
  • Although they’re more expensive, you should consider purchasing the photoelectric variety to avoid future disposal problems.

Ionizing smoke detector procedures

  1. Remove the battery from the smoke detector and manage separately.
  2. Return ionizing smoke detectors units to the manufacturer, which should be listed on the back of the unit, for proper long-term disposal.
  3. If the manufacturer is no longer in business or isn’t willing to accept the used detector, wrap the smoke detector in several layers of newspaper to prevent breakage.
  4. Place the wrapped smoke detector in your trash.

Back to top

 

Household thermostats

  • Some older household thermostats contain mercury.
  • Some heating, ventilating and air conditioning (HVAC) contractors, wholesalers and distributors collect wall-mounted mercury thermostats for recycling as part of a free national program.
    • Contact heating and air conditioning contractors, suppliers and home improvement stores in your area.
  • ​Some household hazardous waste collection events and programs accept used thermostats for recycling.
    • Contact your local government offices to learn whether this service is available in your area.
  1. Place the thermostat in a strong plastic zip-top bag.
  2. Wrap the bagged thermostat in several layers of newspaper to prevent breakage.
  3. Seal the wrapped newspaper with strong tape and place the wrapped waste in a trash bag.
  4. Store the packaged waste away from children and pets.
  5. Place the packaged waste in your trash on the day it's picked up or taken to the landfill.
 

Household thermometers

 

The preferred disposal method is to take the thermometer to a household hazardous waste collection event or program.
  • Place the thermometer in a strong plastic zip-top bag.
  • Wrap the bagged thermometer in several layers of newspaper to prevent breakage.
  • Seal the wrapped newspaper with strong tape and place in a trash bag.
  • Store the packaged waste away from children and pets.
  • Place the packaged waste in your trash on the day it's picked up or taken to the landfill.