Do you put them in the trash? Some things shouldn’t go in the dumpster, and we’ll explain why.
Whether you’re spring cleaning, renovating, or moving, that big empty dumpster in your driveway seems like the perfect place to store all your junk. After all, trash is trash, right? It’s not.
There are quite a few things that shouldn’t go in a typical dumpster. Here are 13 items that should not go in the dumpster, and some reasons why.
- Car batteries and other non-alkaline batteries
Alkaline batteries can be thrown in the trash, but non-alkaline batteries are not allowed. These include car batteries, computer and electronic equipment batteries, lead-acid batteries, rechargeable batteries (such as lithium-ion batteries for cell phones), and silver oxide batteries. These types of batteries are harmful to the environment and cannot be placed in the trash because their final destination is the landfill. Fortunately, there are proper disposal methods for all types of batteries.
- Grandma’s couch or old roommate’s mattress
If you were fortunate enough to inherit your grandmother’s old couch or unfortunate enough to inherit your college-aged roommate’s mattress, you can’t throw them in the trash. Both of these items contain recyclable materials and they need to be disassembled before they can be disposed of. Consider calling a local furniture removal service and be aware that there are often fees associated with disposing of these items.
- Spare tires.
Methane gas is released from the wheel gaps of the tire. Methane gas can suspend a tire, even if it is buried low in a landfill. The tire can then destroy the protective barrier that separates the environment from the landfill, causing serious environmental damage.
One way to avoid disposing of tires in an illegal manner is to coordinate with a representative of the dump truck company and ask how the tires will be disposed of. Other disposal options include taking the tires to a recycling center, giving them to a member tire store, or having them transported by a waste collection company.
- Empty paint cans
Oil-based paint cans should not be placed in the trash. This is because they can leak and the chemicals in the paint can leach out onto the ground. However, latex paint can be disposed of in this manner once it has hardened. The paint will harden on the lid, but adding a paint hardener, such as kitty litter, to the can will speed up the hardening process.
- Household appliances and electronic equipment
Household appliances and electronic equipment, such as microwave ovens, air conditioners, televisions, computers and refrigerators, are usually not allowed in the litter box. This is because they usually contain environmentally harmful substances or recyclable parts.
Instead of throwing them in the trash, you can book an appliance recycling service. Some transfer stations also accept appliances on certain days for a fee, so call ahead to check the local schedule.
- Gas, oil and propane cans
Don’t throw oil cans in the trash. The same applies to old gasoline cans and rusty propane gas tanks. These materials are highly flammable and are not safe in any landfill. Liquids left in tanks and cans can also leak and leach into the soil and groundwater. The best way to dispose of these materials is to call your local hazardous materials office and ask what to do.
- Animal carcasses and medical waste
Although it may seem unlikely in your home, it is not uncommon for households to find animal carcasses in their garages and attics. However, some businesses consider carcasses to be infectious waste and require special disposal methods.
The same is true for dialysis waste, hospital bags, blood-stained fabrics, prescription drugs, and medical equipment such as needles and sharps. Follow EPA guidelines for medical waste or local health authorities for proper disposal methods.
At this point, most people know that carcinogens like asbestos should not be disposed of in trash cans or bins. However, it is still difficult to identify all forms of asbestos. Floor tiles, insulation, roofing shingles, siding materials, and even electrical fixtures and wiring can contain asbestos.
If asbestos is present in a home, it is important to pay for professional asbestos removal.
- Railroad Ties
Do not throw railroad ties in the trash, as Cabo does. These large pieces of wood are plentiful and long-lasting in towns and cities along railroad lines. The reason for this? Because they are soaked and treated with creosote and other substances that are not friendly to the local environment. Some waste disposal sites may accept rails, but be sure to ask for help in hauling them away, as they usually do not fit in the trash as is.
- Cell phones you have been using
While the above discussion covered large electronic devices, small electronic devices should also have their own category. Smartphones and tablets contain not only high-demand items such as microchips, but also minerals that need to be mined from the earth’s surface. These minerals include copper, tellurium, lithium, cobalt, manganese, and tungsten.
Do not throw your cell phone in the trash, no matter how bad or old it is, as recycling is by far the most environmentally friendly way to dispose of electronic devices.
- Contaminated dirt
Contaminated dirt cannot be disposed of in the bin. This could be dirt that accumulated in the basement during a flood or in a garage or barn with some dirt left over from previous years’ use.
Soil containing oil, grease, gasoline, or other hazardous wastes should be taken to a sewage treatment facility for proper disposal. There, chemicals will be separated from the soil before disposal or recycling, and chemicals will be lost to landfills.
- Some large commodities
This is a gray area, but items that are small and cannot be broken down, such as boulders, concrete slabs, tree trunks, and other large items, may not be placed in the trash. This is true even if the item itself is not harmful to the environment.
The reason for this is that landfill space is scarce and large items may take up valuable landfill space. Please inquire with your waste hauler about items that can be picked up.
- Power tools
Burned-out power drills and reciprocating saws that do not move back and forth should not be thrown in the trash. Like electronics, these tools contain chips and valuable materials that can be reused by manufacturers to rebuild tools or recycled by retailers.
Instead of throwing old tools and batteries in the trash, take them to your local home improvement store. Most stores have recycling bins that accept tools.