Spring is almost here and it’s time for some Spring cleaning! As you begin to clean out your garage, attic, basement and other parts of the house, remember, not everything goes in the garbage! When cleaning up your home, keep the Earth in mind. (Hey! Earth Day is coming up!)

Most people begin their Spring Cleaning with their closets. Those pants you’ve been saving, that shirt that you forgot to wear, that jacket that has seen better days- they all can have another life. Consider donating to a local thrift shop or to a clothing donation bin found in many shopping center parking lots. Clothing donated to thrift shops is placed up for sale with the profits benefiting a worthy cause. Any clothing not sold is sent to a recycler to be broken down and reused. Clothing can find a new life as such items as cleaning rags, carpet padding, insulation. Even sneakers can find a new life as material for rubberized playgrounds. According to Earth 911, the average United States citizen throws away 70 pounds of clothing annually. Rather than sending them to the landfill, give them a new life and donate them- you can even get a tax write-off!

In your Spring Cleaning, you are bound to come across environmentally-sensitive materials such as household hazardous waste and even used tires. Fortunately, the Hudson County Improvement Authority has scheduled Household Hazardous Waste & Tire Amnesty Collection Days in the Spring and Fall at locations across Hudson County. These days provide residents with the opportunity to dispose of a number of hazardous household items for free, thank to sponsorship in part by the New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection, Division of Solid and Hazardous Waste. Proof of residency is required.

So what can you bring? We are glad that you asked. Hudson County residents are invited to bring the following to HHW Collection Days:

  • Smoke Detectors (NEW for 2018- see more on that below!)
  • Tires
  • Cleaners
  • Corrosives
  • Pool & Photographic Chemicals
  • Oil-Based Paints
  • Oil-Based Varnishes
  • Rechargeable & Car Batteries
  • Propane Tanks (From Barbecue Grills Only)
  • Solvents and Thinners
  • Formaldehyde
  • Used Motor Oil
  • Old Gasoline
  • Fire Extinguishers
  • Compact Florescent Bulbs & Tubes
  • Antifreeze
  • Marine & Automotive Flares
  • Computers, monitors, printers mice & keyboards
  • Cell Phones and Tablets

Most of us have many of these items in our home taking up space but also posing a health risk to residents, especially children! Young children love to touch and play with a variety of things including dangerous household hazardous waste which can be harmful to them. It’s best to dispose of these items safely at an HHW Collection Day.

Household Hazardous Waste is just that- hazardous! As a result, it is best to dispose of them properly rather than trying to dispose of them yourself which will pollute the environment and pose a threat to the health of animals and humans. Certain types of hazardous waste pour down a sink or flushed down the toilet can cause physical injury to sanitation workers while also damaging a plumbing system. Some products contain hazardous chemicals that are poisonous, corrosive and ozone depleting and should not be placed in the household trash.

Please remember to have your identification with you prior to heading to the HHW Collection Day so that staff can confirm your Hudson County residency. The whole process is quick and easy when you arrive. HCIA personnel will ask you to identify what you are disposing of, help you remove it from your vehicle and you’re on your way.

What happens to your items after you dispose of them? We’re glad that you asked. Some hazardous wastes are stabilized and solidified in order to be disposed of in a landfill. Other wastes can be treated and recycled into products such as pavement filling. Another treatment for hazardous wastes is cement-based solidification and stabilization which improves physical characteristics while also decreasing the toxicity and transmission of contaminants. Flammable hazardous wastes can be incinerated which generates energy from the gases released during the process.

In 2018, the HCIA is proud to be accepting used smoke detectors at our HHW Collection Days. Residential smoke detectors have a 10-year life span and often chirp when they are in need of replacement. Used smoke detectors should never be placed in the garbage. Most residential detectors are ionization chamber smoke detectors which contain a small amount of radioactive metal. As a result, these smoke detectors should not end up in a landfill. The isotope found in most smoke detectors, Americium 241, has a half-life of 458 years! When sent to a facility for disposal, the isotope is contained while the other materials in the smoke detector such as plastic, gold and other metals can be recycled. If you have replaced or are planning to replace your smoke detectors, bring them to a HHW Collection Day and we will take it from there!

Remember when we mentioned tires earlier? The HCIA invites Hudson County residents to bring up to four tires for proper disposal- free of charge. If you are unable to attend a Tire Amnesty Event, please either store the tires indoors in a shed or garage, or cover them with a tarp until they can be disposed of properly. Contact your municipal Department of Public Works for disposal locations and cost.

Scrap tires pose a major threat to human health and the environment. In New Jersey alone, 8.4 million scrap tires are generated annually. Unfortunately, only 25% of these tires are disposed of properly with the remainder ending up in landfills or are illegally abandoned. Discarded tires can collect water and become a breeding ground for mosquitoes, leading to the potential spread of West Nile Virus. As the rubber in tires decay, they pose a fire hazard. In addition, discarded tires left outdoors can become a perfect home for rodents, including snakes!

On the environmental front, tires are made of primarily of rubber which does not decompose, but floats. If tires are disposed in a landfill, the rubber causes them to “float up” which causes compaction problems. Other materials contained in tires include fiber, textile and steel cords which do not decompose.

Scrap tires are generally transported out-of-state for final management. Scrap tires which still have usable tread are often shipped to Central American countries for re-use. All other tires are shipped to facilities in states such as Connecticut, Delaware, Maryland, Massachusetts, New York and Pennsylvania.

The primary disposal method for scrap tires has been incineration for their full value. As technology has advanced, new methods of repurposing have been developed such as for construction purposes including sub-grade fill for roads, landfill projects and septic system drain fields. Tires can also be recycled for surfacing basketball courts or shredded for use as rubber mulch in playgrounds. Other re-uses for tires include flooring materials, patio decks, sidewalks and moveable speed bumps.

So now you know, proper disposal of household hazardous waste is smart not only for the health of humans and animals, but is also a good way to be environmentally conscious! We look forward to seeing you at one of our Household Hazardous Waste Collection Days scheduled in the Spring and Fall of 2018!


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