Eartha Steward: The journey of our HHW |

Eartha Steward: The journey of our HHW

What happens to all that hazardous stuff I drop off at the Summit County Resource Allocation Park?

– Karl, Keystone

Karl, Eartha gives you an A+ for properly disposing your household hazardous waste (HHW)

at the Summit County Resource Allocation Park (SCRAP) instead of down the drain or in the trash! HHW materials, including nasties like paint, pesticides, mercury-containing devices, cleaners, chemicals, adhesives, and wood preservatives, can present serious human and environmental health risks if not disposed of properly.

Many of us are guilty of letting our HHW lead a cob-webby existence in

our garage, which is not recommended. For those

of us that lack Karl’s go-get-em personality and motivation to clear the cobwebs from toxic products sleeping in our home, it’s time to get real. Household products that are hazardous and contain any of the following warnings on the label should not

be aging in your attic or garage: poison, danger, caution, or warning. Believe

the warning on the label and handle these products with care. Take them

to the HHW facility at the SCRAP and put them to rest peacefully.

Once HHW products are delivered safely to the SCRAP, you can rest assured that these materials are not poured down the drain, tossed in the trash, or released

into the environment in any way. Instead, HHW is safely stored and until it can

be removed by a third-party vendor, CleanHarbors Environmental Services,

for further processing. What I’ve recently learned about HHW disposal is that it is

a very complex process, which is no surprise, considering the complexity of the chemicals in these products.

Materials that contain high BTUs, including paint products, transmission fuels, adhesives, flammable solvents, and even nail polish are blended into an alternative fuel to operate cement kilns. Acids and bases including bathroom, oven and pool cleaners are neutralized and discharged to wastewater treatment after being tested.

Batteries, including alkaline, rechargeable, lithium ion, and lead acid are accepted at the Breckenridge and Frisco recycling drop-off centers. We ask you to sort your batteries by type into separate bins because disposal requirements for batteries vary based on type.

Automotive batteries are dismantled, the lead is reclaimed, the sulfuric acid is neutralized, and the batteries are recycled. Household rechargeable batteries can also be recycled while non-rechargeable household batteries are disposed of at a hazardous waste landfill.

A host of other HHW materials that contain a dangerous mix of toxic materials are sent to an incinerator, where high temperatures are used to thermally destroy organic matter. Post-incineration, ash and other residues are disposed of at a specially designed hazardous waste landfill. The following materials are destined for incineration; aerosols, roofing tar, sealers, rat poisons, fertilizers, pesticides, fungicides, ant spray, wood preservatives and brake fluids.

While it’s frustrating to have to pay for disposal of HHW, it’s easy to understand why there’s a fee. HHW materials are expensive to handle and dispose of properly. In America, manufacturers are not required to pay for their products’ end-of-life disposal cost. Instead, the burden falls on the consumer and our local government.

Even though the state of Colorado has yet to pass a landfill ban on HHW, disposing of HHW properly is critical for protecting our environment, our health and our peace of mind. For a full list of hazardous household materials accepted and disposal fees at the HHW facility at the Summit County Resource Allocation Park, visit or call us at (970) 668-5703.

Eartha Steward is written by Jennifer Santry and Erin Makowsky, consultants on all things eco and chic at the High Country Conservation Center, a nonprofit 501(c)3 organization dedicated to waste reduction and resource conservation in our mountain community. Eartha believes that you can walk gently on our planet, even if you’re wearing stylish shoes.

Submit questions to Eartha at or to High Country

Conservation Center, PO Box 4506, Frisco, CO 80443.

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