Household Hazardous Waste Day is upon us

Tomorrow, Saturday May 31st, is household hazardous waste day at the city of Whitehorse landfill. From 10 a.m. until 4 p.m.

Tomorrow, Saturday May 31st, is household hazardous waste day at the city of Whitehorse landfill.

From 10 a.m. until 4 p.m. members of the general public can drop off household hazardous waste free of charge at the designated drop-off tent.

Tipping fees apply to all other materials bought to the landfill.

It will be received by representatives of the city of Whitehorse and the Yukon territorial government.

Note that tomorrow is only for households.

Businesses cannot dispose of hazardous waste at the landfill. Forty-five-gallon drums of hazardous waste will not be accepted tomorrow.

Only household hazardous waste will be accepted.

There are many items around the home in small containers that do fall into the hazardous waste category.

That means they are explosive, poisonous, acidic or flammable. Sometimes they even combine hazards, such as being both explosive and flammable.

A careful reading of the container label should indicate if the contents are hazardous.

Any aerosol can where the contents are under pressure, such as spray paint or hair spray, are considered  explosive.

Unwanted containers of these substances can be handed in tomorrow.

It is surprising how many poisonous items are lurking in a home. At this time of year, it is wise to look at the ingredients on all those herbicides and pesticides left over from last year’s gardening.

If there is a skull and crossbones on the container, it means it is poisonous.

Be aware that not all poisonous waste, in fact not all household hazardous waste, is clearly marked.

If a homeowner is in doubt over whether an item is hazardous or not, assume it is.

Acidic wastes around the home can include certain automotive fluids and cleaning agents.

A surprising variety of household cleaners are flammable.

If any home has unwanted containers of these items bring them to the landfill for this one spring collection day.

Also being collected tomorrow is used motor vehicle fluids from all those do-it-yourself mechanics out there.

These fluids include motor oil, brake fluid, anti-freeze and dirty gasoline.

Do not mix the various fluids together in one container. Keep them in separate containers and have each container clearly labeled.

Not only is mixing fluids dangerous, it makes recycling them or disposing of them appropriately next to impossible.

The best way to deal with hazardous waste is to not purchase it in the first place.

Given the complicated world we live in it does seem that all of us do end up with some.

For example, anyone who purchased compact fluorescent light bulbs is now in possession of a potential hazardous waste.

Inside the bulbs is a mercury vapour. When the bulb reaches the end of its useful life, it should be considered hazardous waste.

Now people should still use the compact fluorescent bulbs, as the energy and fiscal savings are huge compared with the old style incandescent bulbs.

Just make sure that the used compact fluorescent ones are disposed of at a household hazardous waste day, and are not discarded into the regular garbage.

Tomorrow is the only spring household hazardous waste collection at the city of Whitehorse landfill.

Mark your calendars for the other household hazardous waste days in 2008. They are Saturday August 23rd and Saturday September 20th.

Businesses must contact the Yukon government directly to make their own arrangements to legally dispose of hazardous waste. The number to call is 667-3436.

Many people may be in the habit of also bringing in old computers and computer accessories, along with TVs and stereos, to the landfill on hazardous waste day. Do not do this.

These electronic items, known as e-waste, will not be accepted at the landfill.

Instead, e-waste can be dropped off year round at Computers for Schools, Monday-Friday 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. 

This is located at 1235 — 1000 Lewes Blvd, behind the department of Education building.

The organization can be reached at 456-4365 for more information. 

To contact the city of Whitehorse environmental co-ordinator for more information aabout household hazardous waste call 668-8312.

Lewis Rifkind is a Whitehorse based part-time environmentalist.

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