Household Hazardous Waste
What is "household hazardous waste"?
Household hazardous waste (HHW) is comprised of products that contain chemicals or properties that make them potentially dangerous to human health or the environment. Some examples include batteries, electronics, liquid paint, certain cleaners, solvents, antifreeze, used motor oil, energy efficient lights, and appliances.
How do I identify HHW?
While it may not be simple to tell if a product is HHW, there are ways to figure it out. Check for labels on the product or on the original packaging. There may be a warning label or a disclaimer ("caution," "warning," or "danger"). If in doubt, please see the Contacts page and contact the Benton County Public Works Department or your local waste collection service provider. They will be happy to tell you if they can accept the waste or explain what other options are available.
I have HHW. What do I do with it?
First, if there is a label on the product or original container, be sure to read it and follow any disposal instructions that are stated. Second, please browse the Waste Disposal page. If you can locate the type of waste you have, check what options are available to you on the relevant subpage. Many of these options are free, and some even pay you for your waste. Finally, if there are no other alternatives, the Benton County Public Works Department runs free residential collection events for HHW a few times each year. Generally, these are run in the spring and in the fall, and there are usually a few locations that run over the course of several weeks. Please be aware that the amount of waste that can be accepted is limited and that the number of events that are held is subject to a state grant. Therefore, the number of collection events, their durations, and their locations, are subject to changes based on funding.
How much of an issue is HHW?
Proper disposal of HHW is an important aspect of protecting human health and the environment. Due to the potential dangers of improper disposal, it is illegal in the State of Washington to place hazardous waste in the garbage, a landfill, or private or public property. Those immediately at risk are waste handlers and landfill workers who can be harmed by the improper disposal of HHW. Beyond that, HHW can leech chemicals into the soil that can work their way to the water table, contaminating groundwater. Storm water runoff can carry contaminated material to new locations, as can exhaust or fumes from improperly incinerated material.
Of course, storing HHW on site is not ideal, either. We understand that most people would like to be rid of HHW as soon as they are able. Our goal is to help you dispose of your waste throughout the year in a safe, easy, and responsible manner that benefits residents and the environment.
I heard that Franklin County has a moderate risk waste facility (MRWF). Can I dispose of my HHW there?
No. Solid waste programs are operated at the county level of government. Grants are distributed at the county level, and counties can pass taxes for solid waste programs. (Cities can pass their own taxes and adjust rates in addition to this base tax.) Therefore, proof of residence is required to use solid waste facilities or to participate in solid waste programs. Conversely, Franklin County residents (including those in the City of Pasco) should not bring waste to a Benton County HHW collection event, but should use the MRWF or contact the Franklin County Solid Waste Division (509-545-3514).
Benton County had a MRWF, but it was lost to fire in 2010. The County is working towards establishing a new facility. More information will be released as this process moves forward.