Household Hazardous Waste

 

The Problem

Many household products – including varnish and paint remover, fuel additives, lighter fluid, lubricants, rust and tar removers, pool chemicals, fuel cylinders, gasoline contaminated with oil or water, and pesticides – contain hazardous ingredients that are toxic, corrosive, flammable, or unsafe for the environment and human health. These products therefore often require special handling once consumers no longer need them, and are then classified as household hazardous waste (HHW). Although the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency sets stringent requirements for hazardous waste generated by businesses, it does not regulate similar wastes generated in the home. Residents therefore often unknowingly put dangerous HHW in the trash.

A Solution 

Source reduction, reuse, recycling, and safe disposal of HHW products all help negate their health and environmental impacts at end of life. The recent success of extended producer responsibility (EPR) programs – or safe disposal programs run and financed by product manufacturers – for paint, electronics, and other products has sparked an interest in pursuing a similar approach for other HHW.

 

While a legislated EPR program for HHW doesn’t yet exist in the U.S., such programs have been operating successfully in Canada since the 1990s.

 

Metro, a regional government in the Portland, Oregon metropolitan area, worked with legislators to introduce a bill (HB 3251-1) in February of 2015 that would establish a statewide EPR program for HHW. The state held an informational hearing on the bill and Metro held a series of stakeholder meetings to get feedback on the bill’s approach. A new bill (HB 3105 A/SB 199) was introduced in March 2017 (view the public hearing here).

 

PSI's Impact

Conducts Research

PSI offers research and analysis services to inform and shape product stewardship policy. In 2014 and 2015, we conducted research on EPR for HHW programs in British Columbia, Manitoba, and Ontario to examine operational aspects of these programs as well as program challenges and lessons learned. This research informed OR’s proposed EPR bill in 2015. In 2017, PSI analyzed cost and collection data from Canadian EPR for HHW programs. PSI will continue to conduct similar research with the goal of developing model legislation for U.S. states. PSI members and partners can access the research reports on our website.


Convenes Stakeholders and Provides Technical Assistance

PSI brings together government, industry, and other stakeholders to help develop solutions for improving the collection and safe disposal of HHW. PSI hosts briefing calls and webinars to provide expert guidance and inform stakeholders, discuss key stakeholder issues and interests, share information about existing programs, and provide technical expertise on legislative options. In 2014 and 2015, PSI held national calls on EPR for HHW, which brought together local and state government officials, waste management industry representatives, and Canadian governments. For the past three years, PSI has provided technical support to Metro in Oregon on its EPR for HHW bill, including support for a stakeholder process. In 2017, PSI hosted a National Pesticide Stewardship Webinar Discussion to discuss potential solutions to problems of pesticide management, a component of HHW, in the U.S.

 

Advocates for EPR Legislation

PSI monitors, informs, and advocates for product stewardship legislation for HHW. We also offer expert testimony supporting EPR legislation at hearings.

 

Develops Resources

PSI provides resources for governments, non-profits and other stakeholders looking to promote EPR for HHW. In 2017, PSI developed a Pesticide Stewardship Briefing Document, which considers the problems of leftover pesticides (a component of HHW), goals for pesticide stewardship, and suggests potential solutions, including EPR. In addition, PSI’s CEO and founder, Scott Cassel, wrote and published a comprehensive book chapter, "Product Stewardship: Shared Responsibility for Managing HHW," in the Handbook on Household Hazardous Waste (edited by A.D. Cabaniss), which outlines a brief history of the topic, how key elements of a product stewardship system apply to HHW, and how HHW product stewardship and EPR programs work in other jurisdictions.

 

We provide exclusive resources for PSI Members and Partnerslogin or learn more.

 

For more information, please contact Suna Bayrakal at (617) 671-0616. 

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