Though many people know which items are hazardous, they don’t necessarily know the proper way to dispose of them. The most natural reaction would be to toss them in the trash, but that could pose a danger to the dumper and the driver who has to haul the container away. Do not make the common mistake of throwing away hazardous waste inside a dumpster rental without taking the proper precautions. Read over how to properly dispose of dangerous materials in dumpsters.
What Is Hazardous Waste
According to the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), hazardous waste is waste with properties that make it dangerous or capable of having a harmful effect on human health or the environment. Several different sources can generate hazardous waste, including industrial sites that deal with batteries and dangerous liquids, solids, or gases.
Some hazardous items may seem innocuous, especially if people use them inside their homes, as in the case of old paint. However, the ability to use an item in your home doesn’t make disposing of it any less harmful to human health or the environment. Carelessly throwing such items inside a dumpster can pose a serious risk.
Aside from the physical dangers these items can present, improperly disposing of hazardous waste can result in extra disposal fees. Federal laws even prohibit waste management facilities from collecting hazardous waste alongside regular trash.
The EPA established a program to ensure hazardous waste is managed safely. The program oversees the waste through its creation, transportation, treatment, storage, and disposal. First, they sort the waste into the following categories:
- Listed waste comes from manufacturing processes.
- Mixed radiological waste contains radioactive elements.
- Characteristic waste can be found in everyday home products.
In addition to being sorted according to these categories, there are further subcategories intended specifically for hazardous waste.
Flammable waste means ignitable waste. This can relate to liquid waste that has a flash point below 140 degrees Fahrenheit or a flammable solid or ignitable compressed gas. If the US Department of Transportation classifies a material as an oxidizer, it’s also considered flammable waste.
Oxidizers are chemicals that give off oxygen when they encounter other substances. They can intensify existing fires and react dangerously with chemicals. Any type of waste can easily catch fire by being tossed in regular trash alongside an oxidizer. Nail polish remover, rubbing alcohol, cleaning solvents, matches, and flares are common items that fall into this category.
Toxic waste contains any of 40 different hazardous constituents at a concentration equal to or greater than a certain amount. These 40 constituents include 8 metals, 6 pesticides, 10 volatile organic compounds, 14 semi-volatile organic compounds, and 2 herbicides.
Toxic waste is extremely harmful and can even be deadly. Be on the lookout for antifreeze, P-, U-, or D-listed medications, and compact fluorescent lightbulbs.
Reactive waste is unstable. If it reacts with water or hazardous mixtures with water, it can release toxic cyanide or sulfide gases. Under certain conditions, the waste can be explosive and capable of detonating.
Compressed gases like unemptied aerosol cans can explode in the heat of a dumpster or garbage truck. Common reactive wastes are fertilizer, propane, oxygen tanks, and ammunition.
Waste is corrosive if it’s water-based and has a pH of 2.0 or lower. This makes it a strong acid. Corrosive wastes are extremely acidic or basic materials that damage human skin. Some are strong enough to erode steel at a rate greater than 1/4 inch per year.
Corrosive waste can contaminate groundwater, posing a risk to aquatic life in the area. Refrain from throwing away chlorine bleach, rust remover, oven cleaner, and automotive lead-acid batteries.
Hazardous Waste and Roll-Off Dumpsters
Hazardous waste can’t go inside roll-off dumpsters. Placing any hazardous items inside dumpsters can cause a fire, chemical reaction, explosion, or environmental contamination. If you encounter a provider that claims it’s acceptable, choose another provider. That’s a clear indicator they don’t handle their dumpsters with care or precaution.
Providers transport waste to landfills, and then the waste management team sets out to sort the items. If any items contain hazardous waste materials, the renter could be charged additional fees.
Save everyone from trouble by handling these items separately and identifying them before placing them inside the bins. Once you know what you’re dealing with, you’ll know how to dispose of them.
Types of Hazardous Waste
Having a clear understanding of the common types of hazardous waste and what to do in the event of disposal can help protect you against accidents.
Fireworks celebrations are common in the summer, even after the Fourth of July ends. Block parties and festivals sometimes include them for added fun. To safely dispose of fireworks, soak them overnight in water. Then, double-bag them so that they aren’t exposed to other waste items. Finally, toss them inside the dumpster.
Old paint has the tendency to contain lead and solvents that are extremely flammable. Don’t try and dispose of oil-based paints and other leftover household solvents on your own. Take these items to a waste collection program or facility.
Asbestos is a big hazard that may be present during renovations and remodels. Homes built before the 1980s are more likely to contain asbestos than modern homes. If you need to remove asbestos from your home, make sure you wear a mask during the project. The removal process is harmful to your health and those in the surrounding area. Reach out to an expert for further guidance and assistance on how to safely complete this project.
Pesticides like weedkillers and other lawn maintenance chemicals often feature specific instructions for their use and disposal. On the side label, you should find directions telling you how to properly dispose of these items. Don’t deviate from the listed process. If you have any questions, reach out to your local waste facility.
Single-use batteries can be disposed of alongside regular trash, but you can also recycle them. Ask your local recycling center about the process. However, you cannot do the same for automotive batteries, as they contain lead-acid cells that are corrosive. Luckily, metal recycling facilities or auto retailers can recycle old car batteries for you.
Motor Oil & Diesel Fuel
Diesel fuel and motor oil are flammable. Take them to a hazardous waste facility for proper disposal. Your local auto shop could also take them off your hands. Just make sure you store the fuel securely in its original container.
At Vine Disposal, we have roll-off dumpsters in Lawrenceville, GA, that will gladly take your discarded items as long as they’re not harmful. We encourage our customers to properly dispose of dangerous materials. For more information, visit our website.