How to Dispose of Harmful Materials

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Photo by: Lance Cpl. M. C. Nerl

Disposing of household products is not always as easy as putting them in your trashcan or recycling bin. The Department of Sanitation places restrictions on what can and cannot be included in regular trash and recycling collection. Special steps must be taken to dispose of harmful household materials.

Materials restricted include rechargeable batteries, mercury containing devices, gasoline, tires, and corrosive or flammable liquids. Electronic equipment such as televisions, computers and cell phones will be added to this list on January 1st 2015.

Some items not excluded from trash pick up may have handling or packaging requirements. The Department of Sanitation asks that you double-bag broken glass, put cooking oils in non-recyclable containers, soak up liquids like oil based paint or non-corrosive cleaning products with kitty litter or newspaper, and wrap sharp objects like knives in cardboard. Any bulky metal waste that you wish to recycle should be put on the curb between 5 p.m. and midnight, the night before recycling collection.

Any appliances that include Freon (like refrigerators, air conditioners and freezers) must have their Freon removed. To have this done you must request a Freon removal appointment with the Department of Sanitation. After you have scheduled an appointment, appliances should be put on the curb, where sanitation personnel will recover the Freon and tag the appliance. Tagged appliances will be taken on the next recycling collection day. Refrigerators and freezers must have their doors removed before being placed out for collection.

For items that cannot be included with your regular trash and recycling, the city offers Household Special Waste Drop-off Sites. Sites operate between 10 a.m. and 5 p.m. every Saturday (except the last Saturday of each month) and on the Friday before the last Saturday of each month. Drop-off sites are located in each borough.

To recycle items at a drop-off site, you must show a New York State driver’s license and vehicle registration with a New York City address, or proof of residency if you do not arrive in a vehicle. Drivers with commercial license plates are not permitted to enter drop-off sites. When you arrive you must sign in with a sanitation official who will take down you name, address and what items you wish to recycle.

Drop-off sites will accept automotive, alkaline and rechargeable batteries; motor oil; fluorescent light bulbs; latex paint; items containing mercury and tires. Sanitation officials on site will tell you the guidelines for how to dispose of the items you bring.

Along with the regular drop-off sites, the Department of Sanitation also puts on SAFE Disposal Events. SAFE disposal events allow you to dispose of any materials that cannot be accepted in regular trash collection or at drop-off sites. Each borough will hold one disposal event in Spring 2013.

Disposal events are only open to New York City residents and will require proof of residency. They also require that you properly store your materials. DSNY asks that you do not mix materials or carry open containers, and make sure that all materials are labeled. All materials collected at disposal events will be recycled, blended for fuel or sent to hazardous waste treatment centers.

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