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Household Hazardous Materials: Best Practice
Table of Contents
Background and Overview
Management Options
Where To Go for P2 Help
Consumer Education
Best Practice
Complete List of Links

Essential Links:

Glossary of Products with Hazards from A to Z
Hazardous component, recommended us and alternatives for each product

Six Suggestions for Your Community

The best management practice for HHW combines various strategies to address the different types and sources of wastes in the most affordable and efficient method. Components of a comprehensive program include the following:
  1. Collect old stored chemicals from homes, garages, and outbuildings. Many homes contain old cancelled pesticides, unknowns, and other dangerous and sometimes unstable wastes.
  2. Implement product stewardship policies to reduce the future generation of wastes by requiring manufacturers and distributors to share responsibility for the product at the end of its useful life.
  3. Educate consumers on hazardous product recognition, non-hazardous alternatives, safe handling and disposal. Consumers must learn to read labels, identify the hazards, understand the environmental impact, recognize exposure symptoms, and take responsibility!
  4. Establish recycling programs for materials that will continue to be generated - motor oil, antifreeze, batteries, fluorescent tubes, and paint fall into this category.
  5. Create opportunities for citizens to exchange, or dispose of products when they move, are closing an estate, or product has become unusable.
  6. Develop protocol for waste handlers who encounter hazardous materials, citizens who must store hazardous products between collections, and local responders who receive calls from the public on what to do with hazardous materials.
  7. All HHW collection programs deal with the least preferable, but necessary, part of the waste management hierarchy, i.e., treatment and/or disposal. Somewhat better are the programs that collect for recycling, and even better are programs that promote material exchange and complete use of products that would otherwise form a hazardous waste. The best management practice available is to prevent the generation of the waste.

    Product Stewardship

    Hazardous consumer products are still being developed and sold, so we can anticipate greater volumes and costs of hazardous waste disposal in the future.

    Several states are turning to "product stewardship" for hard-to-manage products. Product stewardship is also being encouraged in the U.S. by international trade organizations. The current U.S. focus is on electronics, mercury containing products, pesticides, paint, and carpet (which is non-hazardous but presents a difficult disposal problem). Under agreements worked out between government and business, the responsibility and costs for managing these products safely would be shared among manufacturers, distributors, and consumers. Product stewardship includes other strategies such as incentives for redesigning products to eliminate the hazard, building products for durability and recyclability, take-back programs and deposits (currently employed by automotive batteries).

    It is likely that product stewardship will play a more significant role in household hazardous waste management in the future. Anticipating this, many states are reluctant to invest in programs to collect electronics and other problem wastes now. They are concerned that program sustainability cannot be achieved through government funding alone. National efforts toward product stewardship can be followed through the Product Stewardship Institute, at University of Massachusetts, Lowell.

    HHW Alternatives

    Publications from across the country that identify specific alternatives have been collected as part of the links on this topic hub. By searching the links for this section you can find selected publications describing alternatives for paint, garden chemicals, cleaners, batteries, aerosols, mercury, and automotive products. As this resource grows, a single link for each type will be created to automatically make this sort for you.


The Topic Hub™ is a product of the Pollution Prevention Resource Exchange (P2Rx)

The Household Hazardous Materials Topic Hub™ was developed by:

Pollution Prevention Regional Information Center
Pollution Prevention Regional Information Center
Contact email:

Hub Last Updated: 5/7/2009