Recycle and dispose of hazardous household products
Any product we use has a life cycle. Products are made, then used, then disposed of. At any point, products can impact your health and that of the environment and wildlife.
It's important to dispose of hazardous products properly to keep toxic chemicals out of the environment. Improper disposal can do harm to wildlife, ecosystems, and human health.
Learn how to:
- Recycle hazardous household products through free programs.
- Dispose of hazardous household products that cannot be recycled.
- Understand why proper disposal is important.
List of recycling and disposal programs
Here is our guide to products you can recycle, where to take them, and where you can take other recyclables or hazardous household products.
- Recycling programs are free.
- Most hazardous household waste disposal sites are free, with some exceptions. Call your local disposal site to see their restrictions or fees.
|Product||Where to take it?|
Used computer monitors, TVs, or other appliances
|Fluorescent and mercury-containing lights
Compact fluorescent lights (CFLs), fluorescent tubes, and high-intensity discharge (HIDs)
|Pharmaceuticals, drugs, medications
Prescription and non-prescription drugs, medicines, medications
|Safe Medication Return program
(free mail-in envelopes or local drop-offs)
|Household paint (interior, exterior)
Latex, acrylic, water-based, alkyd, oil-based
|PaintCare (free drop-off sites)|
|Recyclable (non-hazardous) household products||1-800-RECYCLE|
|Hazardous household products||Household hazardous waste sites|
Why is proper disposal important?
Toxic chemicals get into the environment through many pathways:
- Using certain products results in traces of chemicals getting into the environment.
- Making products can result in chemicals getting into the environment.
- Disposing of products – they have to go somewhere.
Once a chemical gets into the environment, it can sometimes stay there, building up for years in the water, dirt, air, wildlife, and people. We monitor the affects of toxic chemicals as they build up to study the long-term impacts of toxic chemical use.
We are finding that many chemicals are persistent (meaning, they stay in the environment for years), such as per- and poly-fluorinated substances (PFAS). It is estimated that all of us have PFAS in our bloodstream. These chemicals are used in a wide variety of products and are currently unregulated.
Chemicals overwhelm the environment
There are other chemicals, such as phthalates that, in smaller amounts, the environment can flush and neutralize. However, because they are used so widely, the environment cannot flush and neutralize the sheer volume that is regularly leaked into it.