Household Hazardous Waste (HHW)
Guidance for Managing Recalled Alcohol-based hand sanitizer. In July 2020, the Federal Food and Drug Administration issued a warning about a sharp increase in hand sanitizer products that are labeled to contain ethanol (also known as ethyl alcohol) but that have tested positive for methanol contamination. Methanol, or wood alcohol, is a substance that can be toxic when absorbed through the skin or ingested and can be life-threatening when ingested. The FDA is working with manufacturers to recall products. This guidance addresses actions that can be taken to dispose of recalled hand sanitizer. Households with recalled hand sanitizer should take advantage of any return, takeback, or exchange programs for the products that they possess. More information on recalls can be found here. If takeback is not available, alcohol-based hand sanitizer generated by a household can legally be disposed of with regular trash, though DEC recommend that it be taken to a local household hazardous waste (HHW) collection event or facility. Residents can check with their municipality for available HHW collection events or facilities in the area.
Homes, sheds, basements and garages can contain household hazardous wastes that should be handled and discarded with special care. Household hazardous wastes (HHW) are materials found in residential wastes that would be regulated as hazardous wastes if they were generated outside of a household. These household wastes can be flammable, toxic, corrosive, or reactive and can be dangerous if handled improperly.
These wastes are subject to stringent management standards when generated outside of a household. However, when generated in a household, they are exempt from State and federal hazardous waste regulations.
Examples of HHW include oil-based paints, pool supplies, automotive fluids, home hobby chemicals, and compact fluorescent bulbs (CFLs).
Reducing HHW in your Household
Ways to reduce the HHW in your household can be found on at the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency's (US EPA) Household Hazardous Waste website (link leaves DEC's website). Please see the HHW Products Safer Alternatives (PDF, 155 KB) or try the US EPA's Safer Choice search tool (link leaves DEC's website) to find substitutes for hazardous products.
Best Management Practices
Household hazardous wastes should be handled carefully to avoid injury to self or damage to the environment. They should be kept out of the reach of children and pets and away from heat sources. It is recommended that they be stored in their original containers with the labels intact and, if possible, they should be directed for disposal to a household hazardous waste collection event. For more information on disposal, please contact your Regional DEC Office.
Please see additional information on how to properly dispose of the following waste types:
HHW Collection Locations
Residents can bring their household hazardous waste to authorized HHW collection facilities or HHW collection events hosted by counties and municipalities. To locate an authorized household hazardous waste collection facility in your area, refer to the Interactive Map of HHW Collection Facilities (link leaves DEC's website) or look on the list of permitted household hazardous waste facilities (PDF, 155 KB). If there is no permitted collection facility in your area, check with your municipality to see if they host periodic HHW collection events. Collection events are typically one- or two-day events that are held throughout the year to allow local residents to bring HHW to a centralized location.
HHW Collection Funding
For HHW collection programs to be effective, they must be readily accessible to residents and include effective promotion of both the collection program and general source reduction information. To help achieve these goals, New York State's Environmental Protection Fund provides financial assistance to local governments.
State funding is available from the Environmental Protection Fund for up to 50 percent of the costs of municipal HHW collection programs. For more information about State funding, please review the HHW State Assistance Program webpage or contact DEC at 518-402-8678 or email us at [email protected].