There are safety risks when hazardous waste is not disposed of properly. Recently, we’ve seen a couple of trash fires in our collection trucks due to inappropriate items being put in the trash bins. Learn the differences between household, bulk, and hazardous waste and how to dispose of each type of trash safely and successfully.
Household waste consists of items such as kitchen scraps, bathroom trash, packaging, and other common non-hazardous waste. Household waste should be bagged, placed in the big brown bin, and set at the curb on scheduled trash days.
For the safety of our employees, the State of Virginia and the Chesapeake Waste Management Office recommends that home-generated sharps (needles and syringes) be placed in a rigid plastic container (such as a Clorox or detergent bottle) and labeled "do not recycle." This container can then be disposed of with your regular garbage.
Burnt firewood and ashes can cause fires in garbage cans and waste management trucks if not disposed of properly. To dispose properly, first submerge ashes and logs in water, preferably in a container with a lid. Let the container sit outside of your house, away from wind and combustible items, for several days. Once the ashes and logs are completely cooled, drain the water (untreated wood ashes can be good for acidic soil). Place the firewood and ashes in a plastic bag and dispose of it in your garbage can.
Recycling and Composting
Some items, such as mixed paper (newspaper, office paper, magazines, catalogs, mail, and non-shipping box cardboard, i.e., cereal boxes) can be recycled at designated recycling drop-off sites. Some food scraps and other eco-friendly compostable materials can be thrown into a home’s compost pile (your garden will thank you!).
Did you know that some recycling opportunities can benefit animals? Directly assist Chesapeake Animal Services (CAS) and donate your aluminum cans any time by bringing them to 2100 Military Highway and recycling them in the trailer in the parking lot. This will earn CAS money which goes directly to their animal medical fund.
There are subscription-based recycling services in Chesapeake, as well as quarterly Chesapeake Recycles Days for items you wish to recycle. Chesapeake Recycles Day will help you dispose of unwanted electronics, plastic bags, sensitive documents, hazardous waste, and other recyclables. When this event is not happening, plastic bags can be disposed of at local grocery stores and the Goodwill will accept most electronics. Hazardous waste gets dropped off at the SPSA Transfer Station, mentioned below.
For yard waste and bulky items, request a bulk pickup at the curb. Do not place these items in your trash bin. Bulk waste collection requests can be made by calling the Customer Contact Center at 757-382-2489, online, or through the Chesapeake Service Request app.
Items that are considered bulk household items are appliances, boxes/bags of household dry goods, furniture, mattress/box-spring, patio furniture, lumbar and fencing, and small garage clean-out items. Remove doors from refrigerators/freezers and tape all glass surfaces. Items that are not allowed include hazardous waste, carpet, wood and fencing, construction and demolition debris, manufacturing process debris, and loose or dangerous refuse.
Items that are considered bulk tree/yard debris are bushes, shrubbery, tree branches/limbs, and large yard trimmings. Tree limbs, branches, and sticks must not exceed 6 feet in length and 6 inches in diameter. Items that are not allowed include tree trunks/logs/stumps that exceed 6 feet in length and 6 inches in diameter and any limb debris trimmed/removed by a contractor. (Please note that lumber and fencing is considered household bulk waste, not yard bulk waste.)
Household hazardous materials are anything that is toxic, flammable, or corrosive, including pool chemicals, brake and transmission fluid, used motor oil, paint, turpentine, paint thinner, spot remover, car batteries, antifreeze, pesticides, insecticides, and herbicides. Throwing such items in the garbage, down the drain, or on the ground is illegal.
Recently, we’ve seen a couple of trash fires in our collection trucks due to inappropriate items being put in the trash bins. Thankfully, no one has been hurt and the operators’ quick actions have also preserved the trucks themselves. However, the situations could have been much worse.
Below are just a few commonly used chemicals that should never go into your trash bin:
- Automotive Products (gasoline/diesel fuel, starting fluid, antifreeze)
- Batteries (particularly lithium ion)
- Workshop/Painting Supplies (paint, paint thinners & strippers, stains & finishes)
- Lawn Supplies (pesticides, fertilizers)
You can properly dispose of these items through the SPSA Household Hazardous Waste program. This program is available at the SPSA Transfer Station in Greenbrier on the first Wednesday and third Saturday of each month from 9:00 a.m. – Noon. You can reach them by calling 757-420-4700. You can also bring hazardous waste to Chesapeake Recycles Day, which takes place four times a year.
For more information on how to properly dispose of household hazard waste, contact SPSA at 757-420-4700 or visit CityOfChesapeake.net/Trash.