It’s important to responsibly recycle and dispose of hazardous waste and, in some cases, our safety and lives depend on it!
Garbage and recycling collectors and processors have witnessed an increase in the improper disposal of explosive and hazardous materials, both locally and provincially. Hazardous waste such as propane canisters and lithium-ion batteries from cell phones and laptops can explode or ignite during landfilling and recycling processes, which can turn a regular household item into something dangerous or deadly.
Hazardous items can cause serious harm to workers and garbage and recycling facilities. It’s vital that the following items stay out of garbage and recycling containers:
- propane canisters
- flammable liquids
- helium tanks
- batteries for e-cigarettes
- lithium-ion batteries (cell phones and laptops)
- butane canisters
- bear spray
- lighters and matches
- household batteries
Download the Waste Wise App anytime to know what goes where.
The risk of fire or explosion is especially high for material-collection vehicles, landfills, and recycling facilities because they contain significant amounts of paper and other flammable materials. The combination of easily flammable material, the type of machinery used, air, and large amounts of material in piles where sparks can smolder undetected for lengthy periods of time makes the presence of hazardous material especially dangerous.
Follow these expert tips to help keep workers, facilities, and the environment safe from improperly disposed hazardous materials.
- Learn about the risks of hazardous materials: When they are incorrectly disposed of, a number of materials can be a health risk, cause personal injury, or even be fatal to collectors and processors. Hazardous materials can also cause destruction to recycling facilities and landfills. The City’s residential garbage and recycling collection services do not allow the following:
• lithium-ion and household batteries
• single-use propane and butane canisters
• flammable liquids
• helium tanks
• bear spray
2. Read Warning Labels: Hazardous materials should be kept out of garbage and recycling bins as well as the waste stream. For example, when household batteries end up in landfills, they can leak toxic mercury and lead, which contaminate the soil and groundwater. Always read the label! Any container that still contains even small amounts of corrosive, toxic, flammable, or reactive components can cause major problems at landfill and recycling facilities. These containers are often labelled with hazard text/symbolssuch as CAUTION, WARNING, CORROSIVE, EXPLOSIVE, FLAMMABLE, POISONOUS, or TOXIC. These materials and containers should never be placed in your residential recycling bins. Please only place them in your garbage bin if the containers are completely empty.
3. Take Action—Change Your Behaviour: Be part of the solution to help prevent tragedies. Do not put hazardous materials in your recycling bins, garbage cans, or drain/toilet. Some materials may be recycled, but they need to be taken to a specific recycling facility that can handle and manage the material properly. It is also important to ensure containers that can be recycled—either through residential recycling or through a specific location—are empty.