blog: Household and business hazardous waste collection program-p.2 |

blog: Household and business hazardous waste collection program-p.2

Pallavi Mukerjee
Vail CO, Colorado

The experience of writing blogs on the subject of my passion has been very fulfilling.

My goal has been to reach out to the Eagle County residents and hopefully this has been achieved to a moderate degree.

Like all good things come to an end, my ‘blogging’ is also coming to an end with this blog. I will miss writing regularly on this subject for the paper. It was a valuable and learning experience for me.

I would like to thank the readers who took the time to read my blogs, and respond to them. And I would like to wish everyone a very Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year.

This blog is a continuation of the last one. We will talk about the waste that will be accepted in the facility, what waste are unacceptable, timings, and residents to be served. Finally we will wrap up by suggesting some safer alternatives to household hazardous waste.

Waste Acceptable in the Facility:

The Eagle County HHW will collect household hazardous wastes and CESQG waste, and serve as a holding facility until the wastes are picked up by a contractor certified to haul each type of waste, as classified by the Department of Transportation (DOT) and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA).

The types of wastes accepted at the facility are classified as follows:

1. Latex Paint: An example is water based paint

2. Compressed Gasses: Examples include aerosol cans, small propane cylinders, and backyard barbecue propane cylinders

3. Flammable/Combustible Liquids: Any liquid that is labeled flammable, combustible, or is ignitable through testing. An example is oil-based paint, petroleum products, gasoline, and diesel.

4. Flammable Solids: May also be considered reactive materials. Some are self-reactive, thermally unstable, and can undergo a strongly exothermic decomposition. Examples are sodium and aluminum dust.

5. Oxidizing Materials: They can support combustion. Examples include potassium hypochlorite, hydrogen peroxide, and many pool chemicals.

6. Poison/Toxic Materials: liquids and solids: They are capable of causing injury or death through ingestion, inhalation, absorption, or injection. Examples include pesticides, herbicides, insecticides, mercury equipment, or any other liquid or solid that is considered toxic and does not fit any other DOT hazard class.

7. Corrosive Materials: liquids and solids: They are capable of burning the skin and corroding steel. Examples include household cleaners, battery acids, and muriatic acid. Any material thought to be corrosive will be tested to determine the pH. Acids and bases will be kept separate.

8. Miscellaneous Materials: Examples include fluorescent bulbs, polychlorinated-biphenyls (PCB) ballast.

9. Motor Oil and Antifreeze: Examples include used motor oil, petroleum, and antifreeze.

10. Batteries: Household batteries segregated by type: alkaline, lithium, mercury, and nickel cadmium.

11. Ammunition: Examples include Class C fireworks and ammunition up to 50 caliber rounds.

12. The Eagle County HHW facility will accept sharps. However, sharps will NOT BE HANDLED PHYSICALLY by Eagle County HHW facility staff. There will be a ‘sharp container’ in a designated location in the lab. The staff will provide the container to the resident who will drop their sharps into the container.

13. Mercury Thermostats and bulbs: Examples include mercury thermostats and bulbs containing mercury.

Waste Unacceptable in the Facility:

Waste not accepted in the Eagle County Household Hazardous Waste facility includes the following:

1. Explosives

2. Radioactive Materials

3. Shock Sensitive Wastes

4. Waste that can’t be characterized by the tests

5. Medical/ Biohazard Waste – this includes human blood, blood products, body fluids, specimens and wastes from labs, carcasses, body parts and bedding exposed to pathogens in research.

The programs of the household hazardous waste facility will allow HHW to be collected and disposed of in an appropriate manner. However, the key is to prevent HHW generation in the first place. The best way to do this is by

a) Reducing generation of Household Hazardous Waste

b) Using non-hazardous products

Here are some simple concepts that can help you evaluate your household practices and identify ways to reduce the impact of HHW from your home:

Changing What You Use

Read labels on the products you use and ask yourself, “Do I really need to use this product?” Safer alternatives may exist.

For example, you could use water-based (latex) paint instead of oil-based paint, compost instead of chemical fertilizers, cedar chips instead of mothballs, or boric acid instead of commercial ant and roach killers.

Changing What You Do

If you must use hazardous products, read and follow the specific instructions on labels. Most products provide instructions for use and proper disposal.

Buy hazardous products only in the quantity you need and use the product up entirely; consider how you will dispose of unused portions of a hazardous product before you purchase it.

Make sure you don’t use too much of a product. More is not necessarily better. In fact, using more material than necessary costs you money and may be more hazardous for you or the environment.

If they are still in useable condition, reuse hazardous products and recycle what can no longer be used. You can also share hazardous products you cannot use, with a friend or neighbor.

Improving Your Housekeeping

Store hazardous products according to the instructions on labels.

Unless the containers are leaking, always keep hazardous products in their original containers. Immediately clean up any spills or leaks according to the instructions on labels.

Make sure the containers always have readable labels. If a label comes off or can no longer be read; make a new label with a permanent marker.

Another way to prevent generation of household hazardous waste is to use safer alternatives.

There are five basic ingredients that can also be used as alternatives to hazardous cleaning products commonly found in the home. These ingredients are baking soda, pure soap, white vinegar, borax, and washing soda. Baking soda is an excellent scouring powder, deodorizer, and water softener.

Pure soap decomposes naturally in the environment and can be found in liquid, bar, powder, or flake form. White vinegar deodorizes and cuts grime and grease. Borax disinfects, cleans, and softens water. Washing soda removes stains, disinfects, and cuts grease.

Some interesting websites which list safer alternatives are listed below.

Lastly, I have penned down some safe alternatives to common household hazardous products.

Here are a few safe alternatives to a few common Household Hazardous Waste:

Aphid killer – Spray thoroughly with water. Repeat three times weekly.

Aerosol spray – Use non-aerosol, pump type sprays.

Ant control – Mix borax, sugar and water on a cotton ball.

Bathroom cleaner – Mix baking soda and castile soap. Scrub.

Bug spray – Place screens on windows and doors.

Chemical fertilizers – Use compost or coffee grounds, bone meal and wood ashes.

Copper cleaner – Scrub with vinegar and salt. Rinse well.

Deodorizers/Air fresheners – Simmer cinnamon and cloves.

Drain openers – Baking soda and vinegar, followed by boiling water. Or, use a plumber’s snake.

Flea repellent – Use a flea comb. Bathe pet weekly. Feed pets Brewer’s yeast, vitamin B or garlic cloves.

Floor cleaner – Vinegar and water.

Furniture polish – For unvarnished surfaces, mix lemon juice and vegetable oil.

Glass and window cleaners – Vinegar and water.

Laundry detergent – Use washing soda, or a non-phosphate concentrate.

Oven cleaners – Washing soda.

Oil or solvent based paint – Water based or latex paints.

Rat and mouse poison – Snap or live traps

Rug and upholstery cleaners – Club soda.

Scouring powders – Baking soda or borax. Rinse thoroughly.

Slug/snail bait – Pan with beer or slug hotel.

Toilet bowl cleaner – Baking soda and castile soap.

Weed killer – Pull by hand.

Pallavi Mukerjee can be reached at

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