Do you ever find yourself wondering whether certain items in your house are safe to throw away in the regular trash?
If you’ve ever cleaned out your garage, or organized your storage room or shed, the answer is probably yes.
There are a surprising number of household items that contain hazardous materials, including:
- Insect and pest killers
- Auto oil, brake fluid, antifreeze, and other fluids
- Drain cleaners
- Fire extinguishers
- Fluorescent light bulbs
- Hair dye and spray
- Lead-based and oil-based paint
- Paint thinner and stripper
- Nail polish and polish remover
- Weed killers
- Electronics (e-waste), many of which contain toxic materials, and are illegal to throw away in Colorado
- Many types of cleaning products
What is Hazardous Waste?
The EPA defines any waste that can have a harmful effect on the environment or on human health as hazardous.
In general, if the packaging or label on a product lists words such as “toxic”, “volatile”, “combustible”, “poison”, “corrosive”, or “harmful”, it’s likely something you shouldn’t put in your trash.
What are the Dangers of Hazardous Waste?
Items that are described as hazardous shouldn’t be thrown out with your weekly garbage, or dumped down the drain.
The chemicals in them can pollute the soil and water. Some of them also pose a danger if handled incorrectly, with the potential to explode or burst into flame.
Fortunately, there are ways to safely dispose of or recycle of hazardous materials here in Boulder County.
How to Safely Dispose of Hazardous Waste in Boulder County
If you just want to get rid of your hazardous waste, the best catch-all solution is to take it to the Boulder County Hazardous Materials Management Facility.
For residents of Boulder County, Erie, and Broomfield, it’s free to take hazardous waste to the Boulder County HMM Facility, so take advantage of it!
You’ll find the Boulder County HMM Facility at:
West of Boulder County Recycling Center
1901 63rd St Boulder, CO 80301
Hours: 8:30 a.m. – 4 p.m. Wed-Sat.
Phone: 720-564-2251 | Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
Note: Check their website or contact HMM to make sure their hours are as listed.
If it’s tough to find time to visit the HMM Facility, you may be in luck. Broomfield, Longmont, and Superior all hold regular hazardous waste collection days, at least once a year, giving you a chance to conveniently and safely dispose of your household hazardous items.
You can get information about the next hazardous waste pick-up date in your area on your local city’s website.
Options for Recycling Hazardous Waste in Boulder County
The easiest way to recycle household hazardous waste is to find ways to reuse it.
The Boulder County Hazardous Materials Management Facility does exactly this. They recycle materials such as paint, fertilizers, automotive fluids and more by offering them for free to people who can make use of them. So if you need to fill up on brake fluid, you might find it there.
Some other options for recycling certain types of hazardous items (many of these charge fees, check the websites of each for more information):
How to Safely Store Hazardous Waste
We understand that you can’t take your hazardous waste to proper disposal or recycling locations every day. In the meantime, be sure to keep these items safely stored out of reach of children and pets.
Every product that contains hazardous waste is different, so first, check the packaging or label for proper storage instructions. Certain aerosols, for example, should not be stored at extreme temperatures or in particularly humid environments.
High temperatures can cause pressure in these cans to build up and potentially cause an explosion. So it’s a bad idea to keep such products in the trunk of your car in the middle of summer.
If the product emits fumes, be sure to store it in a well-ventilated area outside of your living area.
Cleaning and automotive fluids should be stored in sealed containers, ideally with a child safety cap, and out of reach of children. If possible, store such hazardous materials behind locked doors.
Regularly organize your hazardous materials, safely disposing of what you can, to minimize the risk to you and your family.
What to Do With the Rest of Your Trash
Here at General Services Corporation, our professional trash removal service doesn’t accept most hazardous waste. But we can help you with electronic waste and appliances, and just about anything else.
We’ll load up, haul, and safely dispose of:
- Concrete, dirt, and other construction materials
- Furniture and carpet
- Firewood and yard waste
- Computers and appliances
Before you call us to come pick up the waste or items you don’t want, you’ll want to go through everything and sort out what needs to go and what needs to stay.
In the garage, one of the first targets for spring cleaning, you’re bound to find some old hazardous materials you should either store safely or get rid of as soon as possible.