Explosive. Corrosive. Flammable. Toxic.
A comprehensive description of 2020? No. Well, maybe. But these terms do capture another topic of imminent concern: Household Hazardous Waste. Household hazardous wastes are substances that can harm human health or the environment.
This year McLean County residents have been carving out space for home offices and homeschooling. As residents have been cleaning out garages, sheds and basements, the Ecology Action Center has received a great many inquiries about proper HHW disposal practices, drop-off sites, and collection events. We know that getting hazardous household waste items out of your way has been a priority, and we’re glad to hear from so many members of our community acting on that personal responsibility to protect the environment by disposing of items with warning labels. What can you do to safely and lawfully dispose of cleaners, batteries, fluorescent bulbs, oil-based paints, antifreeze, pesticides, and similar hazardous household products? Here are your options:
The fastest, easiest, and most environmentally sound way to get these items out of your way is to donate them to someone who will use them. Online platforms like Freecycle, Facebook Marketplace, and Nextdoor.com offer convenient, safe venues where community members can offer or seek items for reuse. If you’ve hesitated or shied away from these online platforms because you’re not sure how to use them, we’ve created a step-by-step guide to help you get started: https://ecologyactioncenter.org/guide-to-community-reuse/
Some hazardous items can be recycled, or materials reclaimed. Automotive fluids such as oil, antifreeze, diesel and gasoline can be reclaimed through local drop-offs. Automotive batteries and used tires can also be reclaimed, and are accepted by some local retailers. Visit RecycleBN.org or download the Recycle Coach app for up-to-date listings, hours and contact information.
HHW Collection Events and Collection Sites
These events/locations do not accept:
- Latex paint – because it’s not hazardous. If unable to find someone who can use it, dry it out completely and discard with trash.
- Smoke detectors – due to radioactive content, these should be routed back to the manufacturer.
- Needles or controlled substances – use proper sharps containers/services to dispose of needles. There are several pharmaceutical drop-off locations in the area – see RecycleBN.org for more information. Call ahead to verify hours and procedures, and please note that these sites generally do not take liquids, lotions, ointments, or inhalers.
- Automotive batteries – see Recycle Coach for local reclamation options.
- Propane tanks, fire extinguishers, or explosives – check with manufacturers for disposal options
- Non-residential items such as agricultural chemicals and business wastes – contact a commercial disposal service such as Safety-Kleen
Locally Funded Collection Events
At the last McLean County HHW Collection in the fall of 2019, our new drive-through appointment system worked wonders to increase efficiency. The average time on site for a drop-off was under 20 minutes, and some residents were in and out in as little as 7 minutes! Fundraising is now underway for the fall 2021 McLean County HHW collection event. We need your help to make this happen! Please donate today at HHWmclean.org.
State-Funded Collection Events
The Illinois EPA is increasing the number of one-day HHW collection events and hopefully will soon fund another McLean County event. Meanwhile, there are other events within a reasonable drive; as these are state-funded, they are open to any Illinois resident bringing residentially-generated hazardous waste items.
HHW Permanent Collection Sites
The State of Illinois provides four household hazardous waste drop-off facilities. Though they are not conveniently located for central Illinois residents, they do provide an outlet when other options simply won’t work for you. Just like the HHW collection events, these facilities accept residential waste only. In some cases storage capacity may be limited, so please phone ahead before dropping off items.
City of Chicago – Goose Island
1150 N. North Branch / Chicago, IL
Tue 7:00 am – 12:00 pm
Thu 2:00 pm – 7:00 pm
1st Saturday of every month 8:00 am – 3:00 pm
156 Fort Hill Drive / Naperville, IL
Sun 9:00 am – 2:00 pm
Sat 9:00 am – 2:00 pm
Rock River Reclamation District
3333 Kishwaukee Street / Rockford, IL
By appointment only
Solid Waste Agency of Lake County
1311 N. Estes St, Gurnee, IL 60031
By appointment only
The Ecology Action Center is always available to answer questions, provide community education, offer alternative options when possible, in order to help ensure these substances are handled properly so they don’t end up in our regional landfills or waterways. We continue to monitor policy and new developments surrounding safe disposal of HHW. We are working very hard to meet the needs of McLean County residents, and are optimistic about our prospects for more convenient options in the near future. Your help and financial support can help make that happen.
You can help!
- Reduce – purchase only as much hazardous substance as you need
- Route usable materials for community reuse
- Recycle when possible
- Take unusable portions of non-recyclable hazardous products to a collection event or site
- Donate today at HHWmclean.org to support our next local HHW collection event, anticipated for fall 2021 OR to help support a future local permanent HHW collection facility.