Disposing of Hazardous Household Items

    Whether you’re spring cleaning or getting ready to sell your house in Gainesville, chances are you will end up with a box full of household materials like paint, pool cleaner, maybe even an old water heater, that you can’t simply throw in the trash or recycle box, but you no longer use.

    While you make an effort to use reusable bags and buy packaging that can be recycled, there are still some common household items whose disposal can be hazardous to the environment if not properly recycled.

    When it comes to recycling such materials, the most important thing to remember is that not all recycling centers are the same and not all counties have the proper facilities to accept certain items; sometimes you may have to look to national repurpose companies. Here are some of the most common items, and how to recycle them in Alachua County:

    The easiest and most common way of disposing of items like refrigerators, stoves, washers, water heaters or any other electric or gas-powered appliances is to ask the retailer of your new appliance is they have a recycling program and can haul away your old item when they bring in the new one.

    If the appliance is in proper working order, you can donate it to a local thrift store like the Salvation Army. If the item is not working, you can call a local company like Commercial Metals and see if they will buy it for scrap metal, or you can call the Solid Waste Division and have them pick it up for free – please note that if you are planning to leave the appliance on the curb for pickup, you must look up the proper way of disconnecting the lines on items like refrigerators to prevent hazardous chemicals from being released in your home.

    Building Materials:
    Have you done any remodeling lately that left you with scraps of flooring, plumbing, even windows or doors? As long as it was a DIY, you can probably recycle it. If a contractor did a project, they are responsible for the waste disposal. Most materials you can donate to Habitat for Humanity, while items like bricks or rocks can be reused in your landscaping. Old windows can be reused as greenhouses for gardening and doors can be repurposed into desks or other furniture.

    Although it’s not the most “green” alternative, a few local companies will pick up materials for a fee and take them to a landfill, and you may also leave up to two cubic yards of waste next to your garbage on trash pick-up day by 7am.

    Chemicals like cleaners, fertilizers, paint and paint thinner, car fluids, pool cleaners or poisons are hazardous waste and cannot be disposed of in regular trash. Keep these materials in the original containers if possible, clearly labeled, and safely transport to the Household Hazardous Waste Collection Center on 2125 NE 63rd Avenue in Gainesville. It’s a good idea to call and ask the center for the proper packaging and transportation of such materials to assure safety from exposure.

    Not sure what to do with a specific item? Here are some helpful numbers to call:

    Hazardous Waste Collection Center (352) 334-0440
    Gainesville Solid Waste Division (352) 334-2330
    Alachua County Waste Collection (352) 338-3233
    Alachua/High Springs Rural Collection Center (386) 454-2563
    Archer Rural Collection Center (352) 495-3257

    If you have an appliance or any other household item that is in good working condition, consider donating it to www.freecycle.com, a free website for people to give away unwanted items in the community.

    For a complete guide to recycling numerous materials in Alachua County, please visit the City of Gainesville Recycling Division.

    For tips on living “green” and home recycling, visit Alachua County Recycles.

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