How to dispose of household hazardous waste | Finding Solutions | 2012 | Spring | Publications | David Suzuki Foundation
Photo: How to dispose of household hazardous waste

Household hazardous waste (HHW) can cause illness or death to people, plants, and animals. It can contaminate our bodies, homes, and the environment.

HHW includes hair colouring, car wax, nail polish remover, rechargeable batteries, and shoe polish. Most household cleaners are also HHW, including abrasive and all-purpose cleaners, aerosol air fresheners, bleach, disinfectants, drain cleaners, fabric softeners, and glass and toilet cleaners.

If you have these chemicals in your home, you'll want to dispose of them correctly. This will ensure waste workers are not at risk of inhaling toxic substances and reduce the chance of fires or explosions. Never pour or flush HHW down the drain. Not only will this contaminate our waterways and oceans, it can corrode plumbing and cause septic system failure.

Each Canadian province has a HHW collection program to help you dispose of these chemicals with minimal environmental impact. Search your city website for drop-off depots and collection dates.

Before heading to the depot

  • Keep materials in their original containers or ensure that
    containers are well-labelled
  • Do not mix different products together
  • Tightly cap all containers
    You can identify HHW by these hazard symbols

You can identify HHW by these hazard symbols

Toxic/PoisonPoison

These items poison or damage living organisms: solvents, batteries, antifreeze, medications, pesticides, fertilizers, wood stains and preservatives, radiator coolants, compact fluorescent light bulbs, and any confirmed or suspected carcinogens.

CorrosiveCorrosive

These items eat away at surfaces, including the skin of humans or animals. Corrosive materials include bleach and household cleaners, rust removers, wax strippers, laundry stain removers, oven cleaners, drain cleaners, and automotive lead-acid batteries.

Flammableflammable

These items burn easily and pose serious risk of igniting with minimal spark or heat. They include fuel oil, gasoline, motor oil, kerosene, camping fuel, paint thinners, lighter fluids, contact cement, oil-based paints, insect repellent, partially full aerosol containers, furniture cleaners, paint brush cleaners, and gasoline/oil mixtures.

Reactive/Explosiveexplosive

These pressurized containers contain materials that can poison or damage living organisms: gas cylinders that carry propane or butane and aerosol cans with unused product.