waste management rules

Unwelcome Trash: 9 Things You Can’t Put in a Dumpster, According to Waste Management Rules

When you’re ready to get rid of junk and clutter, the easiest method is to throw it away.

Yet with some items, you can’t chuck it in the dumpster and be done. There are rules about what you can dispose of and what you have to take more care of.

Follow these waste management rules carefully to make sure you aren’t exposing others to hazardous items. Here are nine items you can’t put in a dumpster.

1. Liquids

Liquids shouldn’t go in a dumpster. 

Types of liquids you may want to throw away include old paint, used motor oil, or other chemicals. These have to go in other disposal vessels.

Many mechanic shops have a place to dump used motor oil (but not if it’s mixed with other fluids, like brake or transmission fluid). Keep different automotive fluids separate from each other and label them accurately. Some gas stations also have this service.

Regular latex paint is easier to throw away than oil-based paint. Use cat litter or shredded paper to soak up the paint, then throw it away as usual. Oil-based paint has to go to a collection facility, which you can find by calling a home improvement store.

2. Batteries

Car and other large batteries aren’t allowed in a dumpster.

The caustic chemicals leak out, which is terrible for the environment. Seek out a recycling option instead.

Household batteries used to be a no-no also. You were required to recycle them because they had high levels of mercury. However, every state (except California) now allows you to throw them out with the regular garbage.

It’s still a good idea to recycle them. There are options for this, and a quick search online can help you find a recycling center near you.

3. Light Bulbs

Regular incandescent light bulbs are usually free of chemicals that are harmful.

However, there are several light bulbs that do have chemicals in them, like fluorescent bulbs and CFL (compact fluorescent light) bulbs.

Yet even regular halogen or incandescent bulbs can break when you throw them in the trash.

Make sure to dispose of them responsibly so that you’re not endangering employees at the recycling center. Glass shards are a problem, even if the chemicals aren’t.

4. Appliances with Chemicals

You can’t throw appliances in the dumpster if they contain chemicals like freon.

Refrigerators and air conditioning units are big culprits. Make sure you check to see if you can remove the freon before you throw these items in the dumpster.

If you can remove the freon, then it’s okay to trash those big appliances. Some companies will pay you to take them away, though, even if you stipulate they aren’t working anymore. Check and see if you can donate, sell, or recycle an item before adding it to a landfill.

5. Yard Waste

Some companies will pick this up if you put it in special bags or if you call ahead for a pickup.

Yet many trash companies don’t want it in the barrel with the regular garbage.

Check with your waste company before throwing any yard waste in the garbage with your other trash.

6. Aerosol Cans

You can’t throw any aerosol cans in the garbage if they still have product in them.

No matter the type of product, even nonhazardous materials can explode when they’re in an aerosol can. In this case, it’s more the packaging that’s a problem, rather than the material inside.

If you want to throw away an aerosol can, make sure it’s completely empty. This includes items like hairspray, spray paint, cooking spray, and any other aerosol can.

7. Hazardous Waste

Construction materials are okay to throw in a dumpster if they’re free of hazardous chemicals.

For example, older homes may have asbestos in the ceiling tiles or other building materials used before 1980. You’re still required to test your home for asbestos before starting demolition or construction, though, even if it was built after 1980.

Although there were bans in the 70s and 80s on certain types of asbestos materials, even today there are still some legal building materials that contain asbestos. The EPA recommends getting a professional to check before you start any projects.

Obviously, if there is any asbestos in the demo materials, you can’t throw it in the dumpster. You’ll have to call a specific licensed facility and an abatement professional to get rid of it for you.

Other hazardous waste materials you can’t throw in a dumpster include:

  • pesticides (including bug spray)
  • cleaning products
  • any product that says it’s flammable
  • biohazardous waste or medical waste
  • hydrochloric acid and other chemicals

These all have other ways of disposal, and you should follow regulations surrounding them carefully.

8. Electronics

Some states have specific laws about disposing of electronics.

This includes items like TVs, computers, printers, CD players, and other electronic appliances. While some states allow you to dispose of these items in the dumpster, a good rule of thumb is to explore other ways to dispose of them.

It’s better for the environment to find an electronics recycling location to drop off your old electronics.

Also known as e-waste, this type of trash doesn’t always get recycled even when companies say they will. Make sure you talk to your e-waste recycler before you send your things there to ensure they’re taking care of the items ethically. 

9. Tanks

Tanks from an old hot water heater or another large container can collect harmful gases.

You can’t throw these in a dumpster because they could explode if they collect too much of the wrong type of gas or substance.

In most cases, you can have someone haul away the old tank or container before you have a new one installed. If you aren’t having a new one put in, then call a home improvement store in your area for a list of companies that can take care of these large items or help you cut them up before throwing them away.

Follow These Waste Management Rules

Following waste management rules can involve a lot of steps, but it helps take care of your environment and the people working with waste. 

It’s important to keep the above items out of the trash unless you’ve followed the right steps for disposing of them.

Saving your local water table and soil from soaking up chemicals, as well as preserving the earth, makes you a hero.

For more info on our services and renting a dumpster, visit our website today.

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