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Household Hazardous Waste Program

What is HHW?

Household Hazardous Waste (HHW) is as any unwanted or spent household product that can catch fire easily (flammable), eat away at or irritate living tissue (corrosive), react violently with water or other chemicals (reactive), or be poisonous to humans and animals (toxic). Usable household products may exhibit hazardous properties, but until they become a waste they are not appropriate for the mobile household hazardous waste program. Click here for a list of acceptable and unacceptable items.

The average home in Tennessee produces 20 pounds of household hazardous waste each year. Typical items disposed of include cleaning fluids, pesticides, mercury thermometers and thermostats, swimming pool chemicals, paint thinner and automotive fluids. Some items that are accepted but may be recycled locally and on a year-round basis are used oil, batteries, used antifreeze, propane cylinders, and compact fluorescent bulbs. Many of these items are commodities and may generate revenue for the local collection site. Regardless, local collection sites are more convenient for the customer and they help to save the state tens of thousands of dollars annually.

Items no longer accepted at the mobile HHW collections are alkaline batteries, paint, and electronics. Alkaline batteries sold after May 13, 1996, have no mercury added and may be discarded in the regular trash. Nickel-cadmium (Ni-Cd), nickel metal hydride (Ni-MH), lithium ion (Li-Ion) and small sealed lead-acid (Pb) batteries may be recycled at local collection sites that partner with Call2Recycle or Metal Conversion Technologies. You may find a drop-off location near you by entering your ZIP code at www.call2recycle.org/locator. Other items not accepted at the mobile HHW collections include ammunition, explosives, medical waste, radioactive material and any items from a school, commercial business or agri-business. Smoke detectors are not accepted, but may be recycled elsewhere.

You may be surprised at how easy it is to clean without these hazardous chemicals. Click here for a list of do-it-yourself green cleaning solutions, many of which are as simple as vinegar and lemon!

HHW Collection Events 

Any Tennessee citizen can participate in the Mobile Household Hazardous Waste Collection Service. Collections only occur in the fall and spring to avoid extreme weather. The process is very simple. Check the collection schedule to determine a convenient event for you. The spring schedule is posted by February and the fall schedule is posted by August. You can also subscribe to our newsletter to receive collection event reminders for your county.

Check our list of Acceptable and Unacceptable Items to determine what you can bring. The day of the event, load the unwanted materials into your trunk or the back of your truck. For safety, don't mix materials, keep them in their original containers, double package any leaking containers, and place any breakable containers in a box, cushioned with newspaper. When you get to the event you will be surveyed to find out in what county you live and from how many households you are bringing waste.

Only households may use the service to dispose of hazardous wastes. No commercial, institutional, or agri-business waste will be accepted. The Tennessee Department of Agriculture runs an Agricultural Pesticide Waste Collection Program that will accept pesticides from farmers. Additionally, NO explosive, ordnance, ammunition, radioactives, or medical waste will be accepted. Smoke detectors are not accepted, but may be recycled elsewhere.

Tennessee's Mobile Collection Service has been in operation since 1993. Since then, there have been over 1000 one-day collections. Over 301,000 Tennessee families have brought in over 20 million pounds of household hazardous waste for proper disposal. The program is funded by a $0.90 per ton surcharge on waste entering landfills.

Safe Transportation of HHW to the Event

When transporting materials to the site, place containers in sturdy boxes lined with newspaper to prevent spills and cross-contamination in the trunk of a car or back of a truck. Be sure to keep materials away from children and pets. Materials should be kept in the original container whenever possible. If not, place the waste in a plastic jug with a secure lid and label its contents.

CESQG - Schedule an Appointment for a Collection Near You

Conditionally Exempt Small Quantity Generators, who generate less than 220 pounds of hazardous waste per month and have in storage less than 2,200 pounds, are now eligible to participate at the mobile HHW/CESQG Collection Events. To request a price quote and schedule an appointment please contact Clean Harbors Environmental Services at 615-643-3180 with a waste inventory. Most CESQG collection appointments will be scheduled immediately following the HHW event ending time.

Paint and electronic scrap from households will no longer be accepted at the mobile HHW events. Please contact your local Solid Waste Departments for collection and recycling guidance. Often HHW events are hosted at the county convenience center where paint and electronic scrap are regularly managed. If you are a resident of Knox, Hamilton, Davidson, or Shelby Counties, you may take your HHW to the permanent collection site located in your county.