Household Hazardous Waste – where does it go?

Have you ever wondered what happens to the material you drop off at the Kansas City Household Hazardous Waste (HHW) facility or at a mobile collection event? Depending on the material, it may be used as fuel, treated and used as an ingredient in a new product, or filtered or cleaned to make it usable again. In total, about 90–95 percent of the material that comes through the regional HHW program is recycled or recovered as waste-to-energy.

For example:
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  • Good-quality latex paint is processed, filtered and sold back to the public. Latex paint that can’t be reused is sent offsite to a waste-to-energy plant.
  • Oil-based paints, flammable liquids and aerosols are sent to a plant in Arkansas where they are turned into an alternative fuel for use in cement kilns. The propellants from aerosols are recaptured and the metal from the cans is recycled.
  • Antifreeze is recovered locally and goes through a coolant distillation process with a 97 percent recovery rate for reuse.
  • Used oil is burned in the HHW facility’s used-oil furnace for heat, sent to Habitat Restore for use in its used-oil furnace, or sent to an approved local oil recycler.
  • Fluorescent bulbs — including CFLs — are sent to a facility for recycling. The mercury is recovered and the glass and metal are recycled.
  • All batteries are recycled. Heavy metals and casings are recovered and hydroxide compounds are burned off. The materials produced are used to make new batteries, metal alloys and corrosion-resistant coatings.
  • Lead acid batteries are recycled. The lead is recovered to 99 percent purity, the sulfuric acid is neutralized and discharged under permit, and the plastics are recycled into new battery casings.
  • Acids, caustics, pesticides, oxidizers and flammable solids are sent to a hazardous waste incinerator where they are treated in a furnace at 1,800 degrees Fahrenheit. .
  • Small propane cylinders are sent to a facility where the propane is reclaimed and the metal is recycled.
  • Metal paint cans are sent to a local metal recycler; empty plastic cans and bottles are sent to landfills; empty cans from flammable liquids are sent to landfills; and cardboard boxes from drop-offs are returned to the customers for them to recycle.

There are two more mobile events this season, but permanent HHW collection facilities are open year-round.

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