Household Hazardous Waste - Reduce Reuse Recycle

Reducing, reusing, recycling, and disposal options for household hazardous waste.

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Reduce, Reuse, Recycle

In May 2013, the Saint Louis Household Hazardous Waste Facility, as part of the Regional Saint Louis Household Hazardous Waste Program, opened at 291 East Hoffmeister in St. Louis, Missouri, 63125.  This facility is available to all residents of St. Louis City, St. Louis County, and Jefferson County.  Items accepted include:
  • Paints, stains, varnishes, wood preservatives, pesticides, herbicides, poisons, fertilizers,
  • Solvents and strippers, aerosols, motor oil and filters, gas cylinders (20 gallon tank or smaller),
  • Fluorescent tubes, batteries, driveway sealant, mercury-containing devices, gasoline, and more!
  • NOTE:  St. Louis City residents may recycle automotive batteries and motor oil at City transfer stations at no charge.
Items NOT accepted include:
  • Explosives and ammunition, radioactive waste, smoke detectors, medical and infectious waste, prescription drugs and medications,
  • Computers, televisions and other electronic devices, tires, trash, and bulky waste such as furniture and carpeting.
Visit www.hhwstl.com for more information and to make an online reservation for drop-off.  You may also call the Citizens' Service Bureau at 314.622.4800 to make your reservation (required for disposal).  

The following suggestions are intended to help prevent hazardous materials from entering our waste stream by reducing, reusing, and recycling them instead.

1.  Use the materials the way they're intended to be used.  If you have more than needed, share with family, friends, neighbors, etc.
2.  Replace hazardous products with less toxic alternatives.

Additional options for specific materials are listed below.  You may also check the Yellow Pages under "Hazardous Material Control and Removal" or "Waste Recycling and Disposal Service and Equipment."

Less Toxic Alternatives

Antifreeze

  • Check with your local automotive maintenance/repair shop or automotive parts store.

Batteries (Automotive)

Batteries (Household)

Cartridges (Ink or Toner)

Cellular Phones

Cylinders / Tanks (e.g., propane, helium, welding gases, etc.)

  • Use remaining gas in the manner in which it was intended to be used.
  • Return it to where you purchased or acquired it (e.g., retailer, grocery store, supplier).
  • Check with the manufacturer noted on the label.
  • Search for "scrap metal" dealers listed in the telephone book.  Be sure to let them know you have a compressed air or gas tank; they may decline it for safety reasons.
  • Reuse, recycle, or dispose of it through one of the companies listed in the telephone book under "tanks metal" or "hazardous material control and removal."

Electronics

Adonis Recycling
Phone:  866.496.6991 or 636.638.1017

e-Cycle St. Louis
Web:  www.ecyclestlouis.org

Best Buy
Web:  www.bestbuy.com

Midwest Recycling Center
Phone:  1-855-MRC-Recycle

Light Bulbs

City of St. Louis Publication
Web:  http://stlouis-mo.gov/government/departments/street/refuse/recycle/lightbulbs.cfm

Household Compact Fluorescent Lamp Use and Disposal
Web:  www.dnr.mo.gov/pubs/pub2273.pdf

Fluorescent Bulb Recyclers
Web:  www.dnr.mo.gov/pubs/pub451.pdf

Fluorescent Lamp Ballasts
Web:  www.dnr.mo.gov/pubs/pub2081.pdf

Fluorescent Lamps
Web:  www.dnr.mo.gov/pubs/pub24.pdf

Information on Proper Disposal of Compact Fluorescent Bulbs
Web:  http://energystar.gov/ia/partners/promotions/change_light/downloads/Fact_Sheet_Mercury.pdf

Medicine

  • Do not flush unused medications down the toilet or pour them down a drain.  Medications may not be removed by sewage or wastewater treatment systems, and some drains empty directly into waterways (rather than through treatment plants).
  • Check with your pharmacist for disposal options; they may have community pharmacy sponsored days when unused medications can be returned for destruction.
  • If the options below are not available to you, the FDA has the following recommendations for proper disposal in your household trash.
    • Take the medicine out of the original container.
    • Mix the medicine with an undesirable substance, such as cat litter or used coffee grounds.
    • Put the mixture into a disposable container with a lid, such as an empty margarine tub, or place in a zip-top sealable bag.
    • Place the sealed container with the mixture in the trash.  Do not flush unused medicines down the drain.
    • Many empty medicine containers are recyclable.  Before recycling, remove any personal information from the container using black permanent marker, duct tape, or peel the label off.
CVS
Web:  www.cvs.com
  • They offer mail-in disposal for needles, syringes, and expired or unused medicines.
Dispose My Meds
Web:  www.disposemymeds.org/index.php/pharmacy-locator

Kroger
Web:  www.kroger.com
  • They offer mail-in disposal for needles, syringes, and expired or unused medicines.
National Take Back Initiative
Web:  www.deadiversion.usdoj.gov/drug_disposal/takeback/index.html

Walgreens
Web:  www.walgreens.com
  • They offer mail-in disposal for needles, syringes, and expired or unused medicines.

Mercury

City of St. Louis Publication
Web:  http://stlouis-mo.gov/government/departments/street/refuse/recycle/hhw-mercury.cfm

Oil (Cooking)

  • Check the telephone book under "Greases."  There are businesses that collect and recycle cooking oil and kitchen grease.
  • Consider converting used cooking oil or grease into biofuel (also known as biodiesel).
St. Louis Biofuels Club
Web:  www.stlbiofuels.org/Main_Page

Oil (Motor)

Paint

Latex paint is not considered hazardous. The best option is to use it up, in the manner in which it was intended. Share it with family, friends, neighbors, community groups, or anyone you know who might need such material. Possible reuse contacts:
  • art departments at schools, colleges, or universities
  • building contractors
  • campgrounds
  • community centers
  • organizations involved in housing and home improvement for low income and elderly citizens
  • religious facilities
  • sign painters
  • summer camps
  • theater groups

Waste Less by Storing Properly

Paint can be stored for many years when sealed properly, eliminating the need to dispose of paint that is damaged. The American Coatings Association recommends sealing paint containers as follows:

  1. Clean both the lid and the can rim by removing wet and dried out paint.
  2. Cover the paint can opening with plastic wrap, then place the lid onto the can, over the plastic wrap. Use a rubber mallet to seal the lid tightly. If a rubber mallet is not available, use a small piece of wood to absorb the blow of a regular hammer.
  3. Store the container upside down in a room protected from extreme temperatures.

Paint Recycling Options

Earthbound Recycling
Web: www.earthboundrecycling.com

Preparing Paint for Disposal

Latex paint can be recycled or landfilled. If landfilled, residents must prepare the latex paint by removing the lid from the can, in a well ventilated area (away from sources of heat or flame, or other hazardous materials). This allows the volatiles or fumes to dissipate, so that the latex paint will solidify. Once the latex paint is solidified (dry and hard all the way through); the can and latex paint can be disposed of with the general trash (leave the lid off of the can, so that the hauler can see that it is solidified).

Lead based paint and oil-based (lead-free) paint are classified as household hazardous waste (HHW), and must be disposed of accordingly. Find disposal options in the yellow pages under "hazardous waste."

Less Toxic Alternatives
  • Latex Paint Alternatives: Paints with No/Zero VOC (volatile organic compounds), or Low VOC.
  • Oil-Based Paint Alternatives: Latex paint.

Paint Stripper

  • Safer Alternative: Sand paper or water-based strippers.

Paint Thinner (e.g., mineral spirits, turpentine)

  • If using oil-based finishes, clean brushes in a jar filled with just enough paint thinner to cover the bristles. After removing the brushes, cover the jar and let the paint residue settle to the bottom. After approximately a week, drain off the clarified paint thinner into a second jar, then cap the jar and save the paint thinner for the next cleaning. Let the residue in the first jar dry and harden, then discard.
  • Safer Alternative: Use latex paints to avoid the need for paint thinners.

Sharps (e.g., needles/syringes, medical blades, etc.)

  • Ask your health care provider, pharmacist, hospital, or veterinarian if they'll accept your sharps.
  • Participate in a sharps mail-back program.
  • Check in with a needle/syringe exchange program.

CVS
Web: www.cvs.com

  • They offer mail-in disposal for needles, syringes, and expired or unused medicines.

Kroger
Web: www.kroger.com

  • They offer mail-in disposal for needles, syringes, and expired or unused medicines.

Walgreens
Web: www.walgreens.com

  • They offer mail-in disposal for needles, syringes, and expired or unused medicines.
U.S. Environmental Protection Agency Publication
Web: www.epa.gov/epaoswer/other/medical/disposal.htm

Smoke Detector

Ionizing/ionization smoke alarms include radioactive material (Americiim-241), which is encapsulated in a metal chamber (a very small disc ranging in size from 3-5mm in diameter). As long as this disc remains in the smoke detector, radiation exposure will be negligible. The half-life (rate of decay) of Americium-241 is about 432-458 years. Generally, smoke alarms last or are recommended for replacement every 10 years. So, your smoke detector will still contain hazardous material when you're finished with it.

For proper disposal of ionizing smoke detectors, return the entire unit (intact) to the supplier or manufacturer, with a not indicating that it's for disposal. Their address should be listed on the labor on the smoke alarm, or in the product warranty or user's manual. For more information on smoke detectors, visit http://www.epa.gov/radiation/sources/smoke_alarm.html

When replacing smoke alarms, consider using photoelectric smoke detectors, which do not contain radioactive material.
Smoke alarms contain circuit boards, and are this accepted by electronics recyclers, including the following who are located within the City of St. Louis:

Gunther
Hours of Operation
: Monday-Friday 8am-5pm, Wednesday 5pm-7pm by appointment only
Web Site: http://www.guntherelectronics.com
E-mail: dgunthers@yahoo.com
Phone: 314-367-9933
Location: 5080 Delmar Boulevard, St. Louis, Missouri 63108

Keep in mind that some smoke detectors use lithium batteries, which can be recycled locally. For more information on household batteries, and where they can be recycled, visit
http://stlouis-mo.gov/government/departments/street/refuse/recycle/batteries.cfm
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