Household hazardous waste along with E-waste is not only becoming an enormous problem locally in developed nations but also a major issue on a global scale. “A hazardous waste is a waste that exhibits a hazardous characteristic or is a listed waste. There are four criteria that define a characteristic hazardous waste. They are: 1. Ignitability, 2. Corrosivity, 3. Reactivity, 4. Toxicity.” These materials can be flammable, reactive, or unstable enough to release toxic fumes into the atmosphere. They are capable of corroding metal containers such as tanks, barrels, and drums. Currently, the Environmental Protection Agency has over 500 items designated as hazardous waste.
Examples of household hazardous waste include, but are not limited to, solvents, pesticides, paint, gasoline, ammonia, antifreeze, batteries, and pool chemicals. These materials are consumed by millions of people around the world on a daily basis. However, these materials can pose immediate or long-term risks to humans, animals, and plants in our environment when not disposed of properly. E-waste can be defined as electronic consumer items as LCD displays, cell phones, computers, fax machines, stereo equipment, and cameras to name a few. Also included in E-waste are the thousands of miles of cabling required to run the electronic devices. These devices do not disappear when they break, or become obsolete. Some end up in the basement or garage, and some end up in landfills. They pose a threat to our environment when not disposed of properly.
We are throwing household hazardous waste and E-waste away for numerous reasons. For example, if you paint a room in your house you will probably end up with some left over paint. When you are finished consuming the paint, you can either discard it, or store it in your garage. We reason we discard electronic devices is that they become obsolete. We are not going to be able to use the same computer for more than a few years. The processor and operating system will not be able to run the latest applications that are available. The electronics industry is still in its infancy; therefore, many changes and advances in technology will be developed for many years to come. Again, you can throw out the old computer, or it can collect dust in your basement or garage. Eventually our homes fill up with this “stuff” and we need to dispose of the waste. The question is, “What should we do with this stuff?” How much is it going to cost me? Can I throw it away with my normal trash? Do I have to go out of my way to properly dispose of it? The citizens of the world can answer these questions in many different ways; some will be harmful to the environment. What will you decide for yourself, your family, your community, and your world?
The Local Level’s Current Approach to the Problem
Until recently, very few of us understood the Household Hazardous Waste disposal procedure in our county of residence. The facility is located at 1716 Morgan Road, Modesto, Ca. The phone number is 209-525-4123. Residents of the County of Stanislaus can drop off up to 125 lbs. of household hazardous waste per visit. This includes batteries of all kinds, paint, pool chemicals, liquid chemicals (in 5 gallon containers), oil, and antifreeze. This service is currently free of charge. There are no curbside pickups of this type of waste. The drop off hours are Friday and Saturdays from 9 am until 1 pm. The County does make it slightly more convenient for residents by offering a mobile unit service approximately 3 times per year. These pick-up areas are not curbside, but are dispersed through the county. The mobile pick-up station truck will likely be located near a county facility. These locations can change from year to year. You are responsible for calling and asking about the service or watching for their announcements in the local paper. One major problem with this system is that it does not...