Safe disposal of potentially hazardous recyclables

October 20, 2015

Some things that are recyclable can't just be tossed into the blue bin. Instead, these items require thoughtful disposal to avoid contaminating the environment or harming others. Here are a few ways to ensure the safe disposal of potentially hazardous recyclables.

Safe disposal of potentially hazardous recyclables

Potentially dangerous household recyclables

  • Ask your pharmacist how to dispose of out-of-date medicines and other drugs. Do not throw them in the garbage or flush them down the toilet.
  • Check with your local council or the Poison Control Centre before you throw out the miscellaneous old cans and bottles in your garage or garden shed. Many of them will contain hazardous chemicals.
  • If you have decided to get rid of all the toxic cleaning products in your laundry and kitchen, don't simply throw them in the garbage. Contact your local councillor for information on their disposal.

Recyclables with heavy metals or toxic chemicals

Some items are recyclable but contain heavy metals or toxic chemicals that must be handled with care and disposed of carefully. Find out what can be recycled and how to do it from your city council or on the Internet.

  • Ask if your council takes car and household batteries for recycling. Many batteries contain heavy metals such as lead, zinc and cadmium. Some retailers recycle batteries.
  • Drain used motor oil into a clean container and take it to your local garage or council depot for recycling.
  • Find out if paint cans can be included with domestic waste or if they have to be taken in a separate collection.
  • Ask at mobile phone shops if they will accept your old mobile phone for recycling.
  • Recycle printer and toner cartridges. Some suppliers take back used cartridges.
  • Relatively new computers can be given to charities; older models can be recycled for parts.
  • Most city dumps accept electrical appliances, working or not. Refrigerators need to be disposed of carefully to make sure refrigerant does not leak into the environment.
  • Most councils offer information about where you can take a car to be recycled safely. Some charities love to receive old cars.
  • Rubber tires can be recycled into new products. Contact your local council or tire dealer for more information.
  • To recycle scrap metal, check with your city or in the Yellow Pages.

When it comes to the safe disposal of potentially hazardous recyclables, keep these tips in mind and contact your local government for more information.

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