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Household Hazardous Waste Program

Household Hazardous Wastes (HHW) are those wastes produced in our households* that are hazardous in nature, but are not regulated as hazardous waste, under federal and state laws. Each person in Pennsylvania produces an average of four pounds of HHW each year or about 25,000 tons/yr. statewide. Included are such items as old paints and paint related products, pesticides, pool chemicals, drain cleaners, and degreasers and other car care products. Such consumer waste products, if carelessly managed can, and frequently do, create environmental and public health hazards.

 
*The term "households" includes multiple residences, hotels, motels, bunkhouses, ranger stations, crew quarters, campgrounds, picnic grounds and day-use recreation areas.

 

 

HHW: How Should It Be Managed?

  1. The best method of managing HHW is to prevent its generation in the first place. This involves selecting the least toxic item "to do the job" and buying only the amounts necessary.
  2. If the material is still useable (damaged/shelf life expired, etc.) check to see others might be able to use it. Check with community groups to see if they can use the product.
  3. If the material is not useable and/or if such "outlets" are not available, it should be taken to your community's HHW Collection Program. Such programs will ensure that your HHW is recycled or, otherwise, managed, in an environmentally preferable way, under the hazardous waste provisions of the law.
    1. If you have used oil, take it to a used oil collection site.
    2. Spent lead acid batteries can be returned to sellers. In Pennsylvania, dealers are required to take old batteries when new ones are purchased. Spent lead acid batteries may not be discarded in landfills.
    3. Note - Used oil and intact lead acid batteries from households are not considered to be hazardous wastes in Pennsylvania. However, they are frequently generated in households and are thus often grouped in the household hazardous waste category. They are also frequently included in HHW collection programs.
  4. If your community does not have a collection program or you must discard the materials prior to the next scheduled event, you may legally discard them in your regular trash pick up, provided:
    1. You have read the label and complied with any disposal directions.
    2. Liquids have either been allowed to evaporate (if water based) or absorbed (if non-water based) on some material such as vermiculite, cat litter, or sawdust, so that there are no freestanding liquids).
    3. The remaining residue has been packaged to prevent leakage while the material is being transported to the disposal facility
    4. The material is placed out in small quantities, over several collection periods.
  5. Pharmaceutical Management
    1. Pharmaceutical Collections
      1. DEA National Drug Take-Back Initiative  PA Take-Back Day - September 12, 2015
        1. DEA Releases New Rules That Create Convenient But Safe and Secure Prescription Drug Disposal Option
        2. Federal Register Final Rule - Disposal of Controlled Substances (PDF)
      2. Controlled and Non-Controlled Substances
        1. Healthy Pennsylvania - Prescription Drug Take-Back - PA Department of Drug and Alcohol Programs
          1. Contact your local law enforcement office to find out if they have established a permanent collection location for unwanted or expired drugs.
        2. Procedures for conducting a muncipal run one day pharmaceutical collection in PA (PDF)
          1. Elk County Pharmaceutical Collection Events
            1. Penn Highlands Elk Medical Center - 9/26/15
        3. Non-Controlled Substances Only
          1. Registered Onsite Pharmaceutical Collections (Excel) - To be used only by pharmacies for onsite pharmaceutical collections
          2. Notification for Registration of Onsite Pharmaceutical Drug Collection Program 2520-FM-BWM0010 (eLibrary)
    2. Instructions for homeowner to dispose of unwanted medication if there is no pharmaceutical collection in your area
      1. How to Dispose of Medicines Properly (PDF) - U.S. EPA
  6. How to Manage Old Propane Cylinders and Tanks

For questions on specific disposal issues, contact a waste management chemist in your DEP Regional Offices. You can get additional information by contacting the PA HHW hotline at 800-346-4242

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