It’s easy being green

Written by on February 2, 2018 in Housing Choice Voucher Program, Scattered sites, Seattle Housing Authority - Comments Off

What to do with hazardous waste and disposable diapers

Editor’s note: Each quarter, The Voice asks sustainability experts at Seattle Housing Authority to identify the most pressing issues in recycling and garbage services. If you have questions about recycling, composting or other environmental topics, send them to GreenQuestions@seattlehousing.org. We might feature and answer your question in the next column.

By Bobby Coleman
Sustainability Supervisor, SHA

Greetings Readers! As part of our ongoing series about how residents can become more knowledgeable about recycling, composting and other environmental topics, this month we’re focusing on two common problems: what to do with hazardous household wastes and what to do with disposable diapers.

Q: What are household hazardous wastes? How can I dispose of them?
A: Great question! The Environmental Protection Agency considers some leftover household products that can catch fire, react or explode under certain circumstances, or that are corrosive or toxic, as household hazardous wastes.
In Seattle, you can dispose of household hazardous waste items at either the North or South Household Hazardous Waste Facility. Accepted products include household cleaners; lawn and garden products; oil based paints, thinner and stains; as well as flammable liquids like gasoline or used and unused motor oil.

Additionally, these centers also accept mercury-containing thermostats and thermometers, fluorescent tubes and bulbs. Items that are not accepted at your local hazardous waste facility include ammunition, fireworks, televisions, computer monitors and electronics, medical sharps (needles) or asbestos-containing materials.

If you have further questions about facility locations or accepted items, call the Household Hazards Line at 206-296-4692, 9 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. Monday through Friday, or visit www.HazWasteHelp.org.

Q: Are disposable diapers compostable?
A: No, disposable diapers are not compostable − once used, they should be placed in the garbage.
Disposable diapers are not made of just paper; they often contain petroleum-based plastic and chlorine-bleached wood pulp.

In addition – diapers should not be flushed down the toilet, King County Wastewater Treatment Division advises against flushing anything down the toilet besides toilet paper and human waste.

You might want to consider a diaper service that delivers clean, sanitized cloth diapers and removes soiled ones as an alternative to adding disposable diapers to landfills.

The Union of Concerned Scientists has estimated about 20 billion diapers are thrown into landfills every year. And a 2016 study by the Environmental Protection Agency found that diapers made up 3.5 million tons of waste, or 2.1 percent of U.S. garbage in landfills that year.

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