Hazardous Waste Disposal

Household Hazardous Waste is a big issue these days! We can all make a difference in our environment by reducing, reusing, and recycling products that contain hazardous material.

Did you know that Americans generate 1.6 million tons of Household Hazardous Waste each year? The average home can accumulate as much as 100 pounds of Household Hazardous Waste in the basement, garage and storage closets.

Household hazardous wastes are often disposed of improperly or unsafely by pouring these products down the drain, on the ground, into storm sewers, or putting them out with the trash. The dangers of such disposal methods may not be immediately obvious, but they have the potential to injure sanitation workers and contaminate wastewater treatment systems, and may present hazards to children and pets if stored improperly around the house.

What you can do to help

Know your products:

Read product labeling to find out if a substance is hazardous. Look for these signal words:

  • Danger
  • Warning
  • Caution
  • Flammable
  • Corrosive
  • Caustic
  • Volatile

Minimize Waste:

  • Buy the correct product for the job and only the amount you can use up.
  • Read product labels to identify products that minimize or do not contain hazardous substances.
  • Follow label directions and use the amount recommended.
  • Give leftover or excess materials to neighbors, a business (pesticides to a greenhouse), a charity or school (high school theater groups might need paint).

Store Safely:

  • Always keep products in their original containers.
  • Store containers upright, not on their sides.
  • Make sure labels are secure and readable.
  • Keep in a cool, dry place, out of reach of children.

Dispose of Properly:

  • Take it to a facility that will recycle it.

Use Non-Toxic Alternatives

Many hazardous products have alternatives that are safer for you as well as the environment, and will also save you money. These substitutes should be used whenever possible. Most of the non-toxic alternatives listed on this page involve the following ingredients:

  • Ammonia -- Always provide good ventilation. Never mix with bleach or commercial cleansers; deadly fumes may form.
  • Baking soda -- Cleans and deodorizes. Softens water to increase sudsing and cleaning power of soap. Good scouring powder.
  • Borax -- Cleans and deodorizes. Excellent disinfectant. Softens water. Available in laundry section of grocery store.
  • Soap -- Biodegrades safely and completely and is nontoxic. Available in grocery stores and health food stores. Sold as liquid, flakes, powder or in bars. Bars can be grated to dissolve more easily in hot water. Insist on soap without synthetic scents, color or other additives. Synthetic detergents cause more poisonings than any other household product. Even phosphate-free, biodegradable laundry detergent contributes to water pollution.
  • Washing soda -- Cuts grease and removes stains. Disinfects, softens water. Available in laundry section of grocery store or in pure form from chemical supply houses as "sodium carbonate."
  • White vinegar -- Cuts grease and freshens.

When using alternatives that have less hazardous ingredients, use and store with similar caution. Please follow these guidelines for any household cleaner or pesticide:

  • DO NOT mix anything with a commercial cleaning agent. Since these are strong chemicals, it's best to leave them alone.
  • If you store a homemade mixture, make sure it is properly labeled. Do not store it in a container that could be mistaken for a food or beverage.
  • When preparing alternatives, mix only what is needed for the job at hand and mix them in clean reusable containers. This avoids waste and the need to store any cleaning mixtures.

The City of Prattville assumes no responsibility and disclaims any injury or damage resulting from the use or effect of any product or information on the pages noted below. Much of the information provided on these pages was obtained from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and a non-toxic alternatives website.

Alternatives for Household Cleaners

Alternatives for Gardening and Pest Control