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Panel: Steve Risotto
Media: Sarah Scruggs

What is a waste? A waste is a solid, liquid, or a compressed gaseous material that is no longer needed. Waste is often stored until there is enough of it to treat or dispose. The Federal Resource Conservation Recovery Act (RCRA) and its associated regulations govern the disposal of hazardous waste, which is further discussed on EPA's Website.

Industries producing or using chemicals are highly regulated in how they can dispose of unwanted chemicals. Disposal can be accomplished by fuel blending, recycling or recovery, aqueous treatment, incineration, or secure chemical landfill disposal. Some forms of disposal generate a valuable product (energy from fuel blending or incineration, or a usable product from recycling or recovery). Minimizing or preventing the generation of solid and hazardous waste offers the greatest environmental benefits and is a key element of the environmental, health and safety program of the American Chemistry Council’s Responsible Care® program to which American Chemistry Council members commit.

Industry is not the only producer of chemical wastes. Everyday consumers use and dispose of products containing chemicals. Many local and state agencies as well as local companies offer locations for chemical waste disposal or periodic chemical waste pick-up programs where consumers can take their unwanted chemicals. These agencies or companies then dispose of these materials in a responsible manner. Items that are frequently included in these programs are:

  • HOUSEHOLD PRODUCTS: Full aerosol cans, bleach, chemistry kits, nail polish, polish removers, perfumes, disinfectants, drain cleaners, floor wax, mercury thermometers, moth balls, oven cleaner, smoke detectors, spot remover, toilet cleaner
  • HOME HEALTH CARE PRODUCTS: Prescription medications, used syringes
  • EXPLOSIVES: Ammunition, firecrackers, gunpowder
  • WORKSHOP ITEMS: Corrosives, paints (other than latex), small compressed-gas cylinders, solvents, stains, strippers, thinners, varnish, wood preservatives, fluorescent bulbs 
  • GARDEN/YARD ITEMS: Fungicides, herbicides, pesticides, pool chemicals
  • AUTOMOTIVE ITEMS: Antifreeze, auto batteries, degreasers, waste fuels- gasoline, kerosene, used motor oil mixed with other fuels

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