What is Household Hazardous Waste?
HHW products include paint, thinners, solvents, pesticides, herbicides, fertilizers, poisons, automobile fluids, hobby chemicals, some aerosol spray products, and heavy metals found in batteries (automotive and dry cell), fluorescent light bulbs, and electronics. Look for the following warning words on product labels: toxic, caution, corrosive, pesticide, combustible, poison, flammable, warning, or danger. Never pour down the sink, discard in the trash, pour into a street drain, or mix together.
How Do I Dispose of HHW?
Unwanted hazardous household products can be properly disposed of at one of Metro's hazardous waste facilities. Contact Metro at 503-234-3000 for hours of operation and fees and how to prepare materials. HHW is accepted at:
- Metro South Station, 2001 Washington Street, Oregon City
- Metro Central Station, 6161 NW 61st Avenue, Portland
Oregon E-Cycles for E-Waste
Electronics, such as TVs and computers, contain hazardous materials. To reduce the amount of toxic materials heading to the landfill, as of January 1, 2010, Oregonians can no longer throw away computers, monitors, and TVs in the garbage. Unwanted computers, monitors, and TVs must be recycled instead. To safely dispose of e-waste, up to seven computers, monitors, laptops and televisions can be recycled for free through Oregon E-Cycles. For more information and to find locations for free disposal of computers, monitors, and TVs, visit the Oregon E-Cycles web site.
Recycle Compact Fluorescent Light Bulbs (CFLs)
It's important to recycle burned-out (unbroken) CFLs so the small amount of mercury can be reclaimed and reused, rather than released into the environment. In addition to CFL recycling available through Metro (see above), some retailers, including ACE Hardware, Home Depot, Lowe’s and IKEA offer CFL recycling programs; call your local store for details.
While mercury is hazardous, the small amount of mercury in the bulb is unlikely to cause harm, especially if you take a few simple precautions to ensure safe cleanup of the broken bulb. The Environmental Protection Agency offers instructions on how to clean up a broken CFL.
Metro runs a paint recycling program, re-blending leftover paint into high quality, environmentally-friendly latex paint safe for indoor and outdoor use. There are several MetroPaint disposal sites throughout the Portland area, and their website includes an informative video on their paint recycling program. Drop offs under 35 gallons are free of charge.
Sherwin Williams (15659 Boones Ferry Road, Lake Oswego, OR 97035) and Miller Paint (544 N. State St., Lake Oswego, OR 97034) both participate in the PaintCare paint recycling program. Drop offs are limited to 5 gallons at a time and include the items listed on the PaintCare website. This is a very convenient paint recycling option for Lake Oswego residents!
Reducing Household Toxins
The most effective way to reduce the amount of hazardous waste requiring disposal is to replace toxic products with more healthy and environmentally friendly alternatives. Many cleaning and household products include irritants that impact not only children and those with respiratory illnesses, but also pollute our watersheds and threaten wildlife. There are many online resources to help you identify common household toxins and their healthy alternatives- many of which can be made at home! Below is a short list of websites to help you get started:
- Environmental Working Group Consumer Guide: understand what's in your cleaning products, cosmetics and food!
- Oregon Environmental Council: Give your home a health check up!
- Metro Green Cleaning: videos and recipes to help you make your own cleaning supplies at home.