How Can I Safely Dispose of My Waste?

What to do with old paint, batteries, TVs, computer monitors, mercury-containing wastes, pesticides, old gasoline, and waste oil.

What is Household Hazardous Waste?

Many common household items contain chemicals that can create environmental hazards if not handled properly. These wastes include old paint, TVs, computer monitors, batteries, fluorescent lights, thermometers and thermostats, waste oil and gasoline, and pesticides. This brochure gives you information about how to safely handle and dispose of these most common household hazardous wastes. You can also contact your local solid waste facility for more specifics on local disposal and recycling options.

What's so hazardous about my TV and computer?

Computer monitors and TVs may contain mercury paste and gas along with leaded glass. The circuit boards in the computer may also have hazardous levels of lead and cadmium. Deliver your household's old TVs and computers to your local municipal solid waste facility. They will send them to a recycler to reclaim the valuable materials.

What about old gas and used oil?

If you don't use up all the gas in your lawn mower or other gas-powered tools, you can buy an additive that will allow you to leave gas in these tools for an extended length of time. You can also add small amounts (no more than 1-2 gallons) of old gas to your automobile gas tank.

Waste oil collection is offered by some towns at their transfer station or landfill. Also, local garages often collect waste oil as a service to their customers; check with your favorite mechanic to see if they will do this for you. Or call DEP to ask for the nearest site that will recycle your used oil.

What are mercury-containing wastes?

Mercury is an essential component in fluorescent lamps , and may be found in thermometers and thermostats . If these items are broken or not recycled, they can release harmful levels of mercury into the environment. Check with your local transfer station or landfill to see if they have a collection program for recycling these items. You can give your old thermostat to your heating contractor to return for recycling, or call 1800-238-8192 for a free shipping label to send your thermostat for recycling and receive a $5 reward. Remember to buy low-mercury lighting fixtures, from now on.

How about batteries?

There are several different kinds of batteries which can cause pollution if not handled properly. When you buy a new automotive lead acid battery , bring your old one to the store where you are buying your battery. You will avoid paying a $10 fee and your battery will be recycled. You can call 1-800-8-BATTERY to find the retail outlet closest to you that will recycle your NiCad batteries . Prior to 1993, household alkaline batteries contained added mercury. Alkaline batteries manufactured since 1993 contain only negligible amounts of mercury; you can dispose of these in your regular household trash.

My town's solid waste facility won't take paint because it's liquid...what do I do?

First, if the paint is still usable, you may be able to find a school or non-profit organization that can use the old paint . If not, take the cover off the paint can and put it outside under something that will keep the rain or snow out. When it dries out, throw it away with your regular household trash. You can also add the old paint to kitty litter so all the liquid is absorbed. Put the kitty litter in a couple of trash bags, then add the paint and dispose with your regular household trash.

Remember to buy latex paint whenever possible.

Pesticides and other household chemicals...

To dispose of unwanted pesticides, call the Board of Pesticide Control at 287-2731 to find out when they will be holding a collection in your area. You may also dispose of pesticides at household hazardous waste collection programs. If your town is not planning one, you may legally dispose of these items in your regular household trash or store them until your town schedules a collection program. Check the container for any special disposal instructions.

For more information on disposal of household wastes, contact your local Maine Department of Environmental Protection office:

Portland (207)822-6300

Augusta (207)287-2651

Bangor (207)941-4570

Presque Isle (207)764-0477

The Maine Environmental Depot, located in Lewiston, also accepts household hazardous wastes from any Maine citizen.

Portland Maine Riverside Recycling Company