Common dangerous waste

Electronics, batteries and fluorescent lights are common dangerous wastes and businesses are obligated to manage these wastes correctly.

Fluorescent Lights

Fluorescent bulbs and tubes are dangerous waste because they contain mercury and other toxic chemicals. They are required to be recycled under universal waste rules. Use the following guide for recycling fluorescent lights.

Handling and storage

Lights are fragile and should be handled with care. Store spent lights in a durable container to prevent breakage. Universal Waste rules require that used lights are stored for no longer than one year before being recycled. For safety and ease of transportation, stockpiling fluorescent tubes is discouraged.

Broken lights

Broken lights can still be recycled if cleaned up safely and correctly. Follow LightRecycle Washington’s detailed guide for handling broken lights.

Recycling

LightCycle Washington is a free program for Washington residents and businesses to recycle up to 10 mercury-containing lights per day. Visit LightRecycle.org for more information and drop-off locations.

Electronics

Electronics contain toxic components that are required to be managed properly under Dangerous Waste Regulations from the Department of Ecology. Your business can avoid dangerous waste regulations by recycling your electronic waste through a certified vendor.

Recycling

Due to the value and abundance of used electronics, there are many vendors for electronics recycling available to your business. Visit RecyclingA-Z.com and search Electronic Material to find locations of recyclers near you. Call before you drive and confirm that the vendor accepts waste from businesses.

E-Cycle Washington

The free stewardship program, E-Cycle Washington, is an electronics recycling option open to residents, small businesses (less than 50 employees) and charitable organizations in Washington. Visit ECycleWA.com for drop-off locations and more information.

Batteries

Batteries continue to grow smaller and more powerful, and pose many dangers when not managed properly. They come in many forms and in different products, but all batteries are dangerous. Batteries are regulated under universal waste rules.

Handling and storage  

Be careful not to damage batteries. Tape the contacts or bag each battery to prevent contact between battery charge terminals. Contact between batteries can cause electrical discharges, leading to smoke, fire or explosions.

Damaged batteries

Damaged batteries, especially lithium-ion batteries, are known to react, causing fires and explosions. Employees who handle batteries should be made aware of the dangers batteries pose to prevent reactions.

Recycling

Batteries are required to be recycled under Universal Waste rules. Check with regional solid waste vendors for recycling options for your business. Visit Recycling A-Z for Clark County battery recycling locations, or use one of the options below.

Waste hauling vendors

Contracting a local waste hauler may be necessary if your business uses many batteries. Below is a list of vendors that service the Clark County area.

Mail-in Battery Recycling

A mail-back program may be more suitable for your battery recycling needs. The following companies provide boxes to ship your dead batteries to their recycling facility.

Hazardous and dangerous waste

Businesses are legally responsible for knowing if any of their wastes are dangerous and how much they generate. Use the following guidelines to learn how to identify and manage your business’s dangerous waste.

What is dangerous waste?

Waste is dangerous when it poses a threat to human health or the environment. Dangerous waste has many forms but can be identified as showing characteristics of ignitability, reactability, explosiveness, corrosiveness and more.

General Requirements

  • Label dangerous waste as dangerous waste, flammable, corrosive, toxic or reactive
  • Keep containers closed and use secondary containment to prevent spills
  • Know how much dangerous material is kept on site and the timeframe of accumulation
  • Dispose of dangerous waste properly

Determine your Generator Status

The amount and type of waste a business produces and accumulates determines their “generator status,” which influences the types of regulations they fall under for waste management. Conducting a hazardous waste inventory well help you determine your status.

Washington State Dept of Ecology generator status

Storing Dangerous Materials

  • Have Safety Data Sheets (SDSs, formerly Material Safety Data Sheets or MSDSs) on file for every type of dangerous material on site
  • Label everything properly
  • Follow warning labels for preventing fires, spills or other hazards
  • Be sure all employees are trained in proper handling, storage and disposal of dangerous materials

Spill Response

  • Make sure a spill plan is in place
  • Train employees on what to do when a spill occurs
  • Have an accessible spill kit
  • Have the local Ecology Spill Response unit’s phone number on hand

Disposing of Dangerous Waste

Hazardous and dangerous waste should be disposed of through a permitted waste management and recycling facility. It cannot be disposed of in the garbage or in curb-side recycling.

Small quantity generators can bring their hazardous waste to Clark County transfer stations during hours they accept household hazardous waste. Visit RecyclingA-Z.com for more information.

Medium to large quantity generators often hire a hazardous waste service provider to transport and recycle or dispose of their dangerous waste. Providers in the Vancouver, Washington area include Clean Harbors and Stericycle. A business is responsible for the safe management of hazardous waste as long as the waste exists.

Reducing Hazardous Materials

There are many things that a business can do to reduce or eliminate their use of hazardous materials. Everyone from manufacturers to retail centers can benefit from eliminating dangerous products. Here are some examples of how your business can reduce hazardous materials:

  • Improve efficiency to use a smaller amount of hazardous material
  • Use the EPA’s Safer Choice program to find alternative green products
  • Using technology to replace chemical use (i.e. UV lights in place of chlorine for water treatment)
  • Replace internal combustion engines with electric alternatives to eliminate the use of oil products
  • Replace mercury-containing lights with energy efficient LEDs
  • Practice organic landscaping and pest control

Resources