The Garbage Bin: It’s Not for Just Any Old Thing

It might seem like you should be able to throw anything in your garbage bin, close the lid, roll it to the curb, and be done with it. That’s the service you’re paying the “hauler” for, right? To haul away all the stuff you don’t want anymore?

Actually, no.

Many household items are potentially hazardous for sanitation workers to handle and transport. They can also pose environmental hazards if they end up in a landfill. While it would be nice to be able to toss your dead batteries, used motor oil, and half-empty paint cans into the bin, your local hauler is not equipped to handle those items, known as household hazardous waste. You can’t put them in your recycling bin, either, for many of the same reasons.

Here is a quick list of waste that’s banned from the trash bin and the recycling bin.

  • Batteries, including alkaline and lithium-ion, rechargeable and single-use, car batteries, and any other batteries.
  • Fluorescent lamps and tubes, including fluorescent tubes, compact fluorescent lamps, metal halide lamps, and sodium vapor lamps.
  • Electronic devices, including computers, printers, VCRs, cell phones, telephones, radios, and microwave ovens.
  • Sharps and medical waste
  • Pesticides and herbicides
  • Paints and solvents, including latex paint, oil-based paint, and paint thinner
  • Treated wood
  • Motor oil and filters

Check Earth911’s search page to find out where to take these materials, and use our Where to Recycle map to find a used oil recycling center near you. You can also check our Local Government Household Hazardous Waste Websites directory. Some local governments offer HHW pickup, so check with yours about available services.

Sure, doing a little research and then perhaps carting your own trash around is not as convenient as simply rolling it to the curb, but each of us has a responsibility to recycle right. You’ll be doing your part to protect the environment and the workers who handle your waste.

For more detailed information, see our Wastes Banned from the Trash webpage.

— Heather Jones
Posted on Sep 12, 2018

Summary: While it would be nice to be able to toss your dead batteries, used motor oil, and half-empty paint cans into the bin, your local hauler is not equipped to handle those items, known as household hazardous waste. Here is a quick list of waste that’s banned from the trash bin and the recycling bin.