4 Types of Waste You Might Not Know Are Hazardous

4 Types of Waste You Might Not Know Are Hazardous
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When you think of hazardous waste, you probably imagine metal drums full of nuclear byproducts or toxic sludge. That is indeed hazardous waste, but it’s not the only kind. Some forms of hazardous waste seem relatively harmless or at least commonplace. Truthfully, some waste is only dangerous when it’s concentrated and left to disintegrate or corrode in a landfill or another place. Here are four types of waste you might not know are hazardous and what to do about them.

Old Electronics

We love our digital and electronic gizmos, but we don’t think much about them and where they go after they wear out. But laptops, phones, pads, and other devices simply can’t go with the rest of the trash. Most devices contain some number of hazardous substances like mercury, lead, cadmium, and other materials. When you toss them in the trash, they end up in landfills, where they eventually leak and leach those elements into the surrounding soil. Check to see if your community has a special electronic waste recycling program, and bring old electronics to them.


You can throw away some household batteries with the regular trash with no guilt. However, certain batteries contain hazardous materials like lead, mercury, cadmium, lithium, and other stuff that’s bad for the ecosystem. Batteries also have the potential to explode or ignite if their contents get out. Many cities have battery recycling programs, so investigate that. Car batteries are especially toxic and should go to a mechanic or car supply store for disposal.

Light Bulbs

Most light bulbs are generally safe to toss, but some contain our old frenemy mercury and require safe recycling. Handle light bulbs with caution so that their contents can’t get out and poison the environment. Many recycling facilities can handle light bulbs and their proper disposal.

Cleaning Products

Many cleaning products are harmless in that they won’t hurt the ecosystem and others’ health when you throw them away. But concentrated cleaning products can be a real hazard. For starters, you should never pour insoluble products down the drain. Soaps and the like are generally safe to pour, but if you have a septic system, refrain from it. Pouring them in can kill the helpful bacteria living within the system. Check cans and bottles for disposal instructions. You can mix some products with cat litter before you throw them away. Aerosol cans should be empty before you trash them as well.

Those are four types of waste you might not know are hazardous. When it comes to industrial and business settings, you should never handle hazardous waste yourself. But most household waste, while it requires some special handling, is easy to take care of. Keep the above in mind so that we can all have a greener future.