West Virginia University Logo

Disposal of Hazardous Products

Many state laws, municipal codes, local practices, and educational programs, have addressed the issue of instructing consumers how to dispose of household hazardous waste and containers. The most frequent recommendation directs consumers to contact local waste management authorities for advice on what to do with particular containers. Many states have passed laws limiting the types of waste that can be put in their landfills, sometimes excluding all hazardous waste, regardless of source. States and municipalities across the country have created more than 4,000 hazardous household waste collection events and facilities, and that number continues to grow. Some products, such as used motor oil, can be recycled and reused. Consumers are also encouraged to buy only the amount of the product they need.

Limiting the amount of hazardous waste materials or removing them from the solid waste stream allows municipalities to reduce the potential for accidental exposures to sanitation workers, materials recovery facility workers, landfill workers, and the environment.

Some general guidance for disposal is outlined bel


  • Do Not Puncture or Incinerate!
  • If empty: Place in trash or offer for recycling if available.
  • If partly filled: Call your local solid waste agency for disposal instructions.


This includes liquids and solids (tablets, dusts, gels, pet products, etc.) in all other types of product containers (e.g., bags, boxes, bottles, cans, bait stations, squeeze tubes, etc.)

  • If empty: Do not reuse this container. Place in trash or offer for recycling if available.
  • If partly filled: Call your local solid waste agency or for disposal instructions. Never place unused product down any indoor or outdoor drain.

The phrase “call your local solid waste agency” is intended to direct consumers to contact their local government agency responsible for waste management in order to receive instructions on how to properly dispose of the product in their area. Disposal instructions and reuse and recycling capabilities vary from municipality to municipality. For more information on disposal of hazardous products where you live, call Earth 911 at 800-CLEANUP or visits www.earth911.org.

In the past, consumers had been directed to “securely wrap original container in several layers of newspaper and discard in trash.” However, wrapping containers prior to disposal in the trash does not appear to provide reliable protection to sanitation workers as intended and may result in accidental or unknown exposures. Consumers were also previously instructed to rinse their empty containers, but experience has shown that many consumers were confused by rinsing procedures and often incorrectly disposed of the rinse water down the drain or down sewers. States have reported detecting some pesticides in drinking water that appear, in some cases, to be linked to disposal or rinsing in residential waste water systems. There is also the potential risk of adverse chemical reactions occurring when products are poured down drains, singly, or in combination with other products. In addition, storage of rinse water is highly discouraged because of the absence of adequate labeling or packaging.