Household Hazardous Waste
Household Hazardous Waste

The Problem

Many household products – including cleaning fluids, varnish, paint remover, fuel additives, lighter fluid, lubricants, rust and tar removers, pool chemicals, and gasoline contaminated with oil or water – contain ingredients that are toxic, corrosive, or flammable. These HHW products often require special handling once consumers no longer need them.

Many local governments run HHW collection events to help their residents safely dispose of dangerous products. But these events are infrequent and often underfunded. Some communities build and operate permanent facilities that collect HHW year-round, but at a major expense to taxpayers and government.

The Solution

We need comprehensive, statewide programs that allow residents to conveniently drop off HHW for safe disposal. To be effective, such programs must be sustainably funded, be readily available to everyone, provide sustained public education and outreach, and operate permanent collection facilities year-round.

PSI works to pass “extended producer responsibility” (EPR) laws that make the producers of hazardous household products pay for and manage HHW collection programs. HHW EPR programs relieve governments and taxpayers of the costs of HHW collection, and give consumers a safe, convenient way to get these products out of their homes.

Although no such programs currently exist in the U.S., HHW EPR programs have operated successfully in Canada since the 1990s. Manitoba’s program increased collection volumes from approximately 2,600 gallons at the start of the program to 13,500 gallons in 2017. In British Columbia, collection volumes increased from approximately 28,000 gallons in 2001 to 131,000 in 2017 and 74 collection sites were added in the same time period.

Most people unknowingly dispose of HHW unsafely.

Some people put HHW in the trash, where it can injure waste management workers and cause explosions in garbage trucks. Others pour HHW down the drain, where it enters our waterways, poisoning wildlife and threatening the quality of our drinking water sources. Some people even store HHW in the home for long periods of time – risking child and pet poisonings, fires, and spills.

How We’re Leading the Way

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PSI is at the leading edge of HHW legislation in the U.S. PSI’s research has fueled the introduction of HHW EPR bills in both Oregon and Vermont. This year, we conducted a groundbreaking study that quantifies, for the first time, the full scope of products and companies that would be covered under an HHW EPR law in Vermont. We are working closely with our members and other key stakeholders in Oregon and Vermont to strengthen and pass HHW EPR bills this year.

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We bring together governments, companies, environmental groups, and other stakeholders to form coalitions that support HHW EPR bills in state legislatures. Thanks to an initiative led by Chittenden County, the Vermont Product Stewardship Council, and PSI, an EPR bill passed the Vermont House last year. We also host briefing calls, strategy meetings, and webinars to share best practices for HHW collection, connect stakeholders to discuss key issues, and provide technical expertise on legislative options.

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We also create educational resources. Our CEO and founder, Scott Cassel, wrote comprehensive book chapters about HHW stewardship policy and practice in the First and Second editions of the Handbook on Household Hazardous Waste, published by Bernan Press.

How You Can Help

Contact PSI for assistance to develop or pass an EPR bill for HHW in your state.

Drop off your HHW at a collection location near you or at a collection event in your community.

Raise awareness about safe HHW disposal options in your community.

Get Involved

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