Hazardous & Bulky Waste

Some Trash Needs Special Handling – Think Before You Toss

It’s obviously illegal to put hazardous waste into the trash. But, you may be doing it and not even realizing the extent of what’s being done.

We are surrounded with household products that are actually considered hazardous when it’s time to dispose of them in the trash. A broken fluorescent or new energy efficient light bulb which contains mercury is just one example. It’s assumed to be safe while intact, but once that light bulb burns out or breaks, you will need to dispose of it properly. Any improper handling of items like these pose a danger to trash handlers as well as safety in the entire neighborhood or anywhere along the path of where the traces of hazardous waste fall.

Other examples of household waste that could be hazardous, include:

  • Electronics
  • Cell phones
  • Computers
  • Scanners
  • Printers
  • Computer monitors
  • DVD, CD or VCR players
  • Other computer accessories, like a computer mouse
  • Television sets
  • Hair dryers
  • Radios
  • Alarm clocks
  • Medical syringes and other sharp products or items containing human fluids
  • Expired pharmaceuticals, including prescriptions
  • Paint and thinners
  • Cleaners that contain lye or acids
  • Used motor oil and oil filters
  • Turpentine
  • Batteries
  • Weed killer and pesticides
  • Metal polishers
  • Anti-freeze
  • Pool chemicals

Take extra precaution when disposing of:

  • Batteries – AA, AAA, C, D cell and button batteries. Batteries contain a corrosive chemicals that can cause burns and toxic heavy metals, such as cadmium.
  • Electronics – heavy metals like lead, cadmium, copper, and chromium microwave ovens
  • Light Bulbs – While the laws are changing to make lighting our houses more energy efficient, the way light bulbs are being manufactured now create a whole new need for proper disposal. Fluorescent tubes and bulbs, high intensity discharge, HID, metal halide, sodium, and neon bulbs all contain mercury vapor. When the bulb is broken, this vapor is released into the environment. Mercury is a toxic metal that has the potential of contaminating the air we breathe, causing harm to people and to animals that lead to nerve damage or even birth defects, and to pollute the water we drink, and affect the fish we eat.
  • Mercury – In addition to the obvious glass thermometers, this substance shows up in sometimes surprise locations. For instance, thermostats that have the old style glass tilt switch contain mercury, whereas the newer electronic models do not. Switches and relays found inside washing machines, some chest freezers, electric space heaters, sump pumps, clothes irons, automotive vehicle lights, ABS brakes, gas appliances often contain mercury, especially if the item was produced before 1972. Barometers, manometers, blood pressure gauges and vacuum gauges also contain mercury. There are other seemingly fun and innocuous items that contain mercury, such as greeting cards that play music when opened, and light-up athletic shoes made before 1997.

Bulky Trash

There are also bulky items that fill up landfills and potentially leak dangerous fluids or create other kinds of environmental hazards, not to mention that they are just plain large and an eye sore. If they are in a reparable condition, some drop-off sites are able to take in the special refuse collection items, fix them up, and sell it to those in need for a drastically reduced and affordable price or to donate it to be used again and keep it out of the landfill as long as possible.

These items include:

  • Tires
  • Refrigerators
  • Washers
  • Dryers
  • Dishwashers
  • Junked Cars or large parts
  • Lawn mowers
  • Ovens and Stoves
  • Mattresses
  • Yard waste and large tree limbs

In the State of California, it is illegal to dispose of certain items. These items are sometimes referred to as universal waste. If carelessly tossed, these items contain chemicals or components that seep into the land and can even eventually make their way to contaminate our clean water supplies and soil.