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Managing Household Hazardous Waste

Some jobs around the home may require the use of products containing hazardous components. Such products include certain paints, stains and varnishes; cleaners, polishes; automotive products, pesticides and fertilizers. Even certain electronics such as televisions and computer monitors contain hazardous components. Household hazardous waste includes items that have the words "warning," "danger," "toxic," "corrosive," "irritant," "flammable" or "caution" on their labels. These items become "household hazardous waste" (HHW) when they are no longer usable or no longer wanted.

When HHW is disposed of in the trash, it can contaminate landfills, and subsequently, our groundwater. When dumped onto the ground or poured into the storm sewer, HHW can contaminate surface water. In either case, water contamination results in higher water treatment costs and has a detrimental effect on the ecosystem.

The average American household generates 15 pounds of HHW annually. Our homes contain an average of three to eight gallons of hazardous materials in kitchens, bathrooms, garages, and workshops. The best strategy to relieve the environmental impact of household hazardous waste on our waterways and landfills is to implement the four "Rs": Reduce, Reuse, Recycle, and Rebuy and use less toxic alternatives to hazardous household products.

The 4 Rs

Reduce  Reuse  Recycle  Rebuy
Reduce the amount of hazardous products you buy   Reuse products again and again when practical.   Recycle as much and as many different materials as you can.   Rebuy products made from recycled

For specific information on how to implement these strategies in your home, contact the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality (TCEQ) at 1 (512) 239-0028 and request “What Do I Do With It Now?” pamphlet #GI-288. This pamphlet can also be accessed online at https://www.tceq.texas.gov/p2/hhw