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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:
hazardous waste icons

  • 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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It’s your home, make it safe: a (very) short history of the HHW program

HHW logo w.tagline (horiz)

In 1993, planners in Kansas City, Mo., began to study ways to safely collect and dispose of household hazardous waste (HHW). Two years later, on a June weekend in 1995, nearly 4,300 people waited in long lines to properly dispose of their HHW in the area’s first mobile HHW collection event. This event, hosted by the city of Kansas City and sponsored in part by the MARC Solid Waste Management District (SWMD), demonstrated residents’ concerns about hazardous materials stored in their homes and their commitment to the safe and proper disposal of HHW.

One-third of the people who participated in that first HHW collection event in 1995 were people who lived outside the city limits of Kansas City, which highlighted the need for a regional program. The opening of the Kansas City HHW collection facility in September 1996, as part of the city’s environmental campus, offered the SWMD an opportunity to design a regional collection program. The district formally created the Regional HHW Collection Program in 1997 and offered 18 mobile collection events that year.

In the spring of 1997, the city of Lee’s Summit built the region’s second HHW facility, using funds from the district’s grant program. This facility is located at the Lee’s Summit Resource Recovery Park.

Today, the Regional HHW Collection Program provides residents of participating communities with access to both of the permanent HHW facilities and several mobile collection events held in outlying communities each year. The program is funded by a per capita fee paid annually by each participating city or county. To ensure the success of the program, the district provides grant funds to help meet unanticipated disposal costs and support education and promotional efforts.

Since the program started, more than 6 million pounds of HHW have been collected and safely disposed. More than 90 percent of the HHW material collected is recycled, reused or recovered through waste-to-energy methods.

Visit to learn more about HHW, including facility hours and locations, participating communities, this year’s mobile collection schedule, and materials accepted.


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Mattress Recycling

Do you wish we had mattress recycling in the Kansas City region? The MARC Solid Waste Management District staff is working to make that happen.Peeling textile layers off of mattress

In January, a small group of interested persons drove to Hutchinson, Kan., to the correctional facility where mattresses are dismantled by hand for material recovery. Most of the material is sent to market for recycling. The wood, however, is used on-site to construct outdoor chairs, planters and storage boxes for sale. The facility collects mattresses from 13 Kansas counties.

Materials extracted from the mattresses include:

  • Wood
  • Metal
  • Foam
  • Textiles, including cloth coverings, cotton batting, coconut fiber and cotton/poly blend padding

Mattresses are a viewed as a nuisance by landfill operators, since they can take up a significant amount of landfill space and do not degrade well. Regional landfill operators have expressed an interest in the opportunity to divert mattresses.
MARC SWMD staff hopes to collaborate with one or more agencies to make mattress recycling in the region a reality.

Staff contact: Nadja Karpilow, 816-701-8226

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