Newsletter and Technical Publications
<Municipal Solid Waste Management>
1.7.3 Household hazardous waste
Households generate small quantities of hazardous
wastes such as oil-based paints, paint thinners, wood preservatives, pesticides,
household cleaners, used motor oil, antifreeze, and batteries. Household
hazardous waste in industrialized countries such as the US accounts for a total
of 0.5% of all waste generated at home. In developing countries the percentage
is even lower.
There are no specific, cost-effective sound practices that can be recommended
for household hazardous waste management in developing countries. Rather, since
concentrated wastes tend to create more of a hazard, it is best to dispose of
household hazardous wastes jointly with the MSW stream in a landfill, where the
biological reactions tend to have a fixating effect on small amounts of toxic
metals, while other toxic substances are diluted within the MSW.
When resources are available (typically in industrialized countries) there
are specific sound practices for separation of household hazardous wastes from
the regular MSW stream (see box).
|Sound practices for promoting the separation of household hazardous
wastes in industrialized countries
- The priority waste streams for separation are identified with
reference to the damage they do when released into the environment,
and with reference to the type of disposal that would be available if
the waste were not separated. For example, the prioritization of
battery collection would be related to a high reliance on
incineration, for which heavy metals are particularly unsuited.
- There is ample, clear, and frequent public education as to the need
for separation and the available opportunities to separate.
- The separate disposal or recycling opportunity is convenient,
matched to the normal disposal opportunity, and either continuous or
- Certain extremely dangerous substances are identified at point of
purchase (in the stores) as requiring special disposal practices.
- There is a heavy emphasis on point-of-purchase take-back systems for
those items which can be collected in this manner, such as batteries,
medicines, and used oil.
- There is considerable emphasis at the policy and program level on
redesigning consumer products to make them less dangerous (such as
reducing or eliminating the mercury content in batteries).
- Personnel handling household hazardous wastes must receive initial
and subsequent training, but are not required to be licensed or
trained chemical technicians.