How to Dispose of Solid Waste

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As a nation, we have come a long way in our fight for a clean environment. However, much work is still needed. Despite recycling efforts, the average American generates over 4 lbs. of trash a day, according to the Clear Air Council. Much of that waste is in packaging and disposable items. Annually, Americans toss out over 18 billion disposable diapers, nearly four million tons of junk mail and 270 million tires. Proper disposal is necessary to prevent contamination of the environment. Many options exist.

  • Determine the type of waste that you need to dispose of. Disposal methods vary depending upon the nature of the solid waste, its potential toxicity and its imprint on the environment.

  • Dispose of paper waste through recycling. Americans use over 650 lbs. of paper, per person, each year. Much of that paper can be recycled.

  • Contact auto repair businesses for disposal options for auto waste such as tires and engine oil. Many businesses will accept used automotive items. Be aware there may be a charge for disposal.

  • Contact your waste disposal company regarding disposal of electronics. Items such as computers and other electronics may contain hazardous waste that cannot be tossed in the trash. Companies may allow a quota of electronics for residential clients. Businesses may be charged a nominal fee per item.

  • Dispose of compact fluorescent bulbs (CFLs) at a home improvement center or search for other drop-off sites at earth911.com. CFLs are considered hazardous waste by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) because of the mercury that they contain. Local regulations for disposal may also apply. Contact your city hall for more information.

  • Try grasscycling to dispose of lawn clippings. Leave clippings on the lawn rather than disposing of them. Besides reducing waste, clippings will recycle nutrients into the lawn and reduce moisture loss.

  • Refer to your waste management service for disposal options for potentially hazardous household products such as pesticides, paint and pool chemicals. Do not recycle empty containers nor rinse them in the sink.

  • Investigate options for disposing of medical waste such as sharps (needles). Some areas may consider sharps hazardous waste, making it illegal to toss them into the trash. Contact the North American Syringe Exchange Network for more information regarding needle exchange programs.

  • Dispose of steel and other construction waste by recycling. Recycling saves not only energy but money as well. Over 50 percent of U.S. steel comes from recycled steel.

Tips & Warnings

  • Try to reduce waste by refraining from making extra copies of office materials. Businesses use over 21 million tons of paper each year.
  • Purchase products with minimal packaging.
  • Check labels on common household products such as household cleaners and drain openers. Some products may be toxic. Refer to manufacturer instructions for proper disposal.

References

  • Photo Credit Thinkstock Images/Comstock/Getty Images
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