Common household items contain hazardous waste that can be harmful to humans, animals, and the environment, if not disposed of properly. Getting rid of things you don't want is good to do before you pack, but don't just grab a trash bag and throw everything away or spill it down the drain. Be responsible and protect the wellbeing of your community by selling, donating, or recycling whenever possible. To locate local disposal sites in your area, visit earth911.com or call2recycle.org.
Paint can’t be transported by a moving company so don’t pack it.
At-home Latex Paint Disposal
If you’re unable to donate, return, or take leftover paint to a recycling center, here are four simple and safe disposal steps.
Old batteries contain tons of reusable materials so the best way to get rid of them is to recycle them. Regular alkaline batteries are not considered hazardous waste in most states and can be safely disposed of with normal household trash. According to the EPA, rechargeable batteries contain nickel cadmium which will pollute the soil, water, and air if they end up in a landfill or incinerated. Rechargeable batteries, along with batteries from electronics, should be donated or taken to an e-waste disposal site for recycling. Collect your old batteries, tape the ends, and put them in a container until you can take them to a recycling center. Some batteries may have some charge left in them so taping the ends will prevent a fire from starting. For specific guidelines on how to dispose of household batteries in the state of Pennsylvania, please click here.
If you have a new bottle of cooking oil, and the seal hasn’t been broken, it can be transported by the moving company. Throw away all opened bottles of cooking oil in the regular garbage before moving day. Oil spilled down the drain in large quantities will accumulate and clog the pipes.
According to the FDA, almost all medicines can be safely disposed of by using medicine take-back programs or using U.S. Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA)-authorized collectors. Locate an authorized collector in your area here.
If a take-back or mail back disposal program is not available to you:
Donate, sell, or recycle unwanted laptops, cellphones, TVs, and tablets. Some electronics contain toxic substances such as lead, mercury, and cadmium so these items can’t be thrown away. Twenty-five states, including Pennsylvania, have passed a law requiring e-waste to be recycled. Pennsylvania has an Electronic Recycling Management Program, plus many electronics manufacturers and stores offer recycling and buy-back options. Read How to Recycle Old Electronics by Consumer Reports for a list of places and current programs. Be sure to wipe all personal information from electronics before they leave your possession.
Aerosol cans can’t be transported by the moving company because they contain liquid or gas packed under pressure which can explode and catch fire. Toss empty aerosol cans in the trash and bring the rest to a hazardous waste collection site.
Compact fluorescent lightbulbs (CFLs) contain mercury, so they should be recycled. LEDs, incandescent lightbulbs, and halogen lightbulbs are safe to disposed of in the garbage—just be careful. Some home improvement stores like Ikea, Lowes, and Home Depot have lightbulb recycling programs for CFLs and other types of non-toxic lightbulbs.
Pennsylvania law requires all used motor oil to be recycled. To find a local collection site in your area, click here.