Hazardous Waste is the unused or leftover portion of household products containing toxic chemicals and can be identified by key words on the container label: danger, warning, and caution. The container may also describe the health or environmental hazard of the product by using the following words: flammable, combustible, poison, caustic, and irritant.
The average U.S. household generates about 30 pounds of household hazardous waste per year. The United States generates about 1.6 million tons each year. If not disposed of properly, it can pose a threat to human health and the environment.
5 Simple Ways To Reduce Hazardous Waste
- Avoid commercial household cleaners. Many commercial cleaners on the market today contain harmful chemicals that are damaging to the environment and human health. You can clean your entire house and save money making your own non-toxic cleaners. For non-toxic cleaning recipes, see UNC CEHS Green Cleaning Fact Sheet (PDF).
- Check the label before you buy to make sure the product is appropriate for the job. If you see a cautionary notice, understand this material will become a household hazardous waste if not used up properly.
- Buy only what you need so you do not have any leftover. Some products cost more to dispose than they do to purchase. Use forethought when purchasing products that may be costly for you or your community to dispose.
- Give leftover hazardous products to someone who can use them. Friends, neighbors, community groups, or charities may be able to put your leftovers to good use.
- Recycle whenever possible. Orange County Waste and Recycling Centers accepts used motor oil, oil filters, batteries, and antifreeze. See below for more information on these recycling programs.
Household Hazardous Waste (Residential)
There are two Household Hazardous Waste Drop-offs in Orange County:
- Orange County Eubanks Road Waste and Recycling Center (Chapel Hill)
- Orange County Walnut Grove Church Waste and Recycling Center (Hillsborough)
Anyone using either one of these facilities with more than 20 gallons of paint or 25 pounds of other hazardous waste material should contact Orange County Solid Waste Management first to set up an appointment.
The following items are accepted at the Household Hazardous Waste Collection:
- Aerosol cans (if aerosol spray cans are completely empty they can be recycled with residential or drop-off recycling)
- All batteries (also accepted at Orange County Waste & Recycling Centers)
- Anti-freeze and other automotive fluids (antifreeze and used motor oil are also accepted at Orange County Waste & Recycling Centers).
- Automotive chemicals
- Fluorescent light bulbs, including tubes and compact fluorescent ("twirly") lights
- Helium tanks up to 3 gallon size
- Household cleaners and chemicals
- Lawn, garden, and pool chemicals
- Propane tanks 1 gallon size only
- Thermostats and thermometers containing mercury
- Used cooking oil and many other items in your home that may be toxic, flammable, caustic, or otherwise hazardous.
Bring items in their original containers with original labels intact whenever possible.
Do not mix wastes.
- Medical or infectious wastes
- Radioactive wastes
Business Hazardous Waste (Commercial)
Businesses that generate less than 220 pounds of Hazardous Waste per month can use the Orange County Hazardous Waste Collection at the Eubanks Road facility only at no additional charge. Businesses using this facility must call ahead for an appointment at 919-968-2788 and they must sign an affidavit that states they are a "Conditionally Exempt Small Quantity Generator."
Federal Law divides commercial generators of hazardous waste into three categories: Large Quantity Generators (over 2,200 pounds per month), Small Quantity Generators (220 to 2,200 pounds per month) and Conditionally Exempt Small Quantity Generators (under 220 pounds per month). Federal Law regulates the first two types of hazardous waste generators. Only Conditionally Exempt Small Quantity Generators are permitted to use the facility at the Orange county Landfill.
Antifreeze, Batteries, Oil Filters & Used Motor Oil
Orange County Solid Waste Management recycles the following hazardous materials at its Waste & Recycling Centers:
- Antifreeze: Recycle in a separate yellow tank at the Orange County Waste & Recycling Centers. Do not mix it with motor oil.
- Batteries: All types of batteries can now be recycled at Orange County Waste & Recycling Centers.
- Wet-cell batteries such as automobile batteries can be stacked on pallets located at each center. Auto-battery retailers in North Carolina are also required by law to take these batteries back. Please do not place lead-acid batteries in the dry-cell battery receptacle.
- Dry-cell batteries of all types, flashlight, button cell, hearing aid, camera, etc. can be dropped off at special containers now located at each Waste & Recycling Center.
- NEW RULES FOR LITHIUM BATTERIES. Please separate and tape the ends/terminals (if button cell, tape the entire battery), before bringing to drop off sites. Please only place Lithium and Lithium-ion batteries in receptacles labeled for Lithium batteries.
- Batteries of all types are also collected at the following locations:
- Town and Country Hardware (Timberlyne Shopping Center)
- Weaver Street Market (all 4 locations)
- Southeastern Camera at 205 W Main St., Carrboro
- Oil Filters: These filters can be recycled at Orange County Waste & Recycling Centers. The steel is recovered to make new steel and the paper and oil are burned for fuel. Each filter, even after being hot-drained, can contain as much as 4 ounces of motor oil that may still leak out. The State of North Carolina has banned Oil Filters from being disposed of in North Carolina Landfills.
- Used Motor Oil: Oil collection tanks are located at all five Orange County Waste & Recycling Centers and at the Hazardous Household Waste collection facility. The used oil collected is cleaned and used as boiler fuel. Some is reprocessed into lubricating oil. It is unlawful to dispose of motor oil in landfills, down drainage ditches, or into storm sewers. Please recycle your motor oil! One gallon of motor oil when dumped into fresh water can foul 1,000,000 gallons of drinking water supply.