Household hazardous wastes (HHW) are materials that are residentially generated but potentially have the dangerous properties of hazardous waste when they are no longer used for their intended purpose. Common examples of HHW include oil-based paints, lawn chemicals, and fluorescent lamp bulbs. A more comprehensive list of common HHW is available here. State and federal law allow HHW to be disposed of with other residential garbage. However, taking these wastes to an HHW collection that is specifically designed to handle such problematic materials is more protective of human health and the environment.
Illinois EPA provides financial support to five permanent collection locations and coordinates one-day household hazardous waste (HHW) collections each year in the spring and fall. The first of these collections began in November 1989. Since then, 401,350 households have participated in 449 events, with more than 78,100 drums of material collected. HHW collections funded by Illinois EPA are free to the public. An Illinois EPA contractor assures that all collected HHW are properly containerized, manifested, and safely transported to their ultimate destination.
Illinois EPA's contractor will accept all HHW delivered to one of the permanent collection sites or a collection event. However, there are alternative outlets available for some types of HHW. For example, used motor oil should be taken to local recyclers to be re-refined and reduce the volume of wastes at collection sites. Though lead-acid batteries are not commonly accepted during collections, local retailers are willing to accept them; lead and acid from batteries can be recovered for future use. Liquid motor oil and lead-acid batteries are banned from Illinois landfills. Many batteries can be handled through a national mailback program administered by Call2Recycle. Call2Recycle is a battery stewardship organization in North America that operates a household battery recycling program and helps businesses manage their battery recycling efforts. Visit Call2Recycle to find a drop-off location near you.
Please note: latex or "water-based" paints are not household items that should be delivered to HHW collection events. Modern latex paint does not contain hazardous constituents and can be dealt with in cheaper, more efficient ways than at a HHW collection. Check out latex paint disposal options here
Illinois EPA encourages communities to co-sponsor HHW collection events. An
application is available for printing or you can apply online. Applications are accepted on a rolling basis and are kept active indefinitely. Approval of an application is based on numerous factors, including available funding, and potential event applications are not chosen on a first-come, first-served baseis. Illinois EPA provides funding and contractor oversight for the selected collection events and serves as the waste generator for manifesting and reporting purposes. Co-sponsors are responsible for providing promotional materials and advertising, site location, and volunteers to supervise traffic control, greet, and survey participants and distribute information for the events. Illinois EPA reserves the right to review and, if necessary, reject all promotional materials should those materials not accurately characterize the collection event.
Collections are scheduled on Saturdays, from 8 a.m. to 3 p.m., for the greatest convenience of working families. Citizens are asked to bring harsh chemical cleaners, paints, thinners, antifreeze, weed killers, insecticides and pesticides, and similar hazardous household products to the events. Explosives, propane tanks, fire extinguishers, smoke detectors, agricultural chemicals and business wastes are not accepted. View a complete list of household hazardous wastes that are and are not accepted at one-day collections.
Long-term collection sites are in Naperville, Rockford, Chicago (Goose Island), Gurnee, and Wood River. These locations provide area residents with ongoing locations to take their household hazardous waste. More information can be found on the Collections page.
For more information on this program, or to obtain an application to co-sponsor a collection in your community, contact the Materials Management and Compliance Section at (217) 785-4116 or email Illinois EPA.