Household Waste Disposal Solutions

There are many items that consumers have doubt about when it comes to proper disposal. Some may be discarded as regular garbage and others require special treatment. Below is a list of some of the most common items that require special treatment.

Appliances

Items that fall under the classification of appliances include refrigerators, freezers, ranges, water heaters, air conditioners, humidifiers, and other similar domestic and commercial large appliances. These items, also referred to as white goods, that have not had their components removed were banned from landfills on July 1, 1994. These components are mercury switches, chlorofluorocarbon (CFC) refrigerant gas (Freon), and polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs).

The only landfills permitted to receive appliances are those that:

  • Participate in the Illinois EPA's Industrial Material Exchange Service;
  • Remove the white goods components prior to sending to a landfill; and
  • Have an Illinois EPA approved operating plan and permit for white goods disposal.

Rather than placing the appliance in a landfill after its components are removed, you can arrange to have the appliance hauled to a scrap yard where the metal can be reclaimed.

Batteries

Lead acid motor vehicle batteries were banned from landfills on September 1,1990.

  • Exchange old motor vehicle batteries for new when purchasing a battery.
  • Sell used motor vehicle batteries to a salvage yard or recycling center.

Information about recycling rechargeable batteries is also available.

Construction Debris

Landfills accept both clean and general construction and demolition debris. It is illegal to open dump either clean or general construction or demolition debris.

Clean construction or demolition debris, also known as "clean fill", is defined as uncontaminated broken concrete without protruding metal bars, bricks, rock, stone, reclaimed asphalt pavement, or dirt or sand generated from construction or demolition activities. Clean construction and demolition debris can be recycled, buried below grade provided it is outside of a groundwater well setback zone, or disposed of in a landfill. If the material is recycled, make sure the recycler is a bona fide recycler; otherwise, the generator, hauler and property owner where the material is placed may be subject to substantial penalties. If buried below grade outside of a groundwater well setback zone, the construction and demolition debris must be covered with sufficient uncontaminated soil to support vegetation within 30 days of the completion of the burial. Broken concrete without protruding metal bars may be used for erosion control.

General construction or demolition debris is defined as non-hazardous, uncontaminated materials resulting from the construction, remodeling, repair, and demolition of utilities, structures, and roads, limited to the following:

  • soil
  • wall coverings
  • reclaimed asphalt pavement
  • rock
  • plaster
  • glass
  • non-hazardous painted wood
  • drywall
  • plastics
  • non-hazardous treated wood
  • plumbing fixtures
  • electrical wiring
  • non-hazardous coated wood
  • non-asbestos insulation
  • bricks
  • wood products
  • roofing shingles
  • concrete
  • general roof coverings

If recycling general construction or demolition debris, make sure the material is taken only to a recycling facility in compliance with the Environmental Protection Act and regulations; otherwise, the generator, hauler, and property owner where the material is placed may be subject to substantial penalties.

Illinois EPA has a fact sheet which contains more information about construction and demolition debris.

If you choose to dispose of construction or demolition debris in a landfill make sure the cost of proper disposal is specified in the contractor's bid. As a precaution, get receipts from your contractor.

For more information about construction and demolition debris disposal management, contact the Illinois EPA's Permit Section at 217-524-3300 or your Illinois EPA Regional Field office.

Electronic Equipment

The law establishes a statewide system for recycling and/or reusing the items listed on the electronic waste recycling page discarded from residences by requiring electronic manufacturers to participate in the management of discarded and unwanted electronic products.

Fluorescent Lamps

Improper disposal of used fluorescent and high density discharge lamps damages the environment. When broken, these lamps release mercury and other metals that damage the environment. Used fluorescent and HID lamps may be classified as hazardous waste due to their mercury content and are thus regulated under the Resource Conservation and Recovery Act (RCRA). They should be managed properly to ensure safe usage. There are recyclers that will take your used lamps.

Landscape Waste

Landscape waste has been banned from landfills since July l, 1990. There are many landscape waste disposal options:

  • Leave grass clippings and leaves on the lawn as a nutrient.
  • Mulch grass clippings, leaves, and wood chips for lawn and garden application.
  • Take landscape waste to a permitted compost facility.
  • Participate in community landscape waste collections.
  • Construct an on-site, well maintained, household compost bin. Use the compost as a soil amendment.

Mercury Containing Products

In order to protect health and the environment, safe and proper storage of mercury is vital! Mercury-containing products have no alternative disposal options and must be saved for a household hazardous waste collection. View more details on disposal of mercury, or what citizens need to know about mercury.

Motor Oil

The release of used motor oil can have adverse effects on the environment. Just one gallon of used oil can make a million gallons of fresh water undrinkable. When used oil is poured down the drain and enters a sewage treatment plant, a very small concentration of oil can foul the treatment processes. A film of oil on a water surface prevents oxygen from entering the water and blocks sunlight. This makes it difficult for plants to grow, thus reducing the animal and plant life in a body of water. Water, air and soil are all connected, and oil can make its way to these media.

Because of these risks, proper management of used oil is a major environmental concern. Illinois state law banned liquid used motor oil from landfills as of July 1, 1996. The ban does not include oil filters, absorbents used to clean up oil spills, or containers which previously contained used oil.

  • Save the used oil in a leak-proof container. Some service stations and recycling centers accept used oil.
  • Have your oil changed at a service station or a lube center that recycles and properly disposes of used oil.
  • Take the used oil to a local Household Hazardous Waste collection.

Do not dump used oil in the street, alleyway, on the ground, down the sewer, or use it for dust control. Doing so can pollute waterways and subject you to substantial penalties. Our Office of Small Business discusses the topic in more detail.

Paint

Oil-based paints are considered acceptable waste at state sponsored Household Hazardous Waste Collection events.

Latex paints however are not toxic and therefore not acceptable for Household Hazardous Waste Collection events. There are various disposal options for this type of paint.

The removal of lead-based paints from surfaces of various structures presents specific problems in preventing air, water and land contamination and should be dealt with in the appropriate manner.

Automotive repair shops have special regulatory compliance issues pertaining to their particular usage.

Paint Thinner

Paint thinners, turpentine, mineral spirits and other solvents must not be poured down the drain. Instead consider these alternatives:

  • Let used turpentine or mineral spirits sit in a closed container until paint particles settle. Then, pour off the clear liquid into another container for reuse.
  • Mix paint residue with unused cat litter, let dry in a well ventilated area and dispose with your household waste at an Illinois EPA permitted landfill.

Propane Gas

There are many companies throughout the state that will accept old-style propane gas cylinders at no charge.

Used Tires

For more information, visit the Illinois EPA's Used Tire Program web pages.