Inappropriate disposal of empty hazardous materials containers can cause adverse human and environmental harm. The remnant wastes can harm wildlife, people, and seep through the soil to contaminate groundwater.

Preventing these damages starts with how we clean our empty toxic materials containers and how we dump them. This article will take you through several key concerns:

  • Examples of toxic materials
  • Safe ways to dispose of empty hazardous material containers

Examples of toxic materials

Determining whether a material is hazardous can be challenging, making it hard to decide on the best disposal method for its empty container. Some labels are poorly designed, pushing users to misread the universal signs and guidelines.

The following is a list of hazardous chemicals you can refer to to establish the right method of disposing of the empty container you’ve in hand.

  • All brominated and chlorinated hydrocarbons
  • Chlorofluorocarbons
  • Chlorinated solvents such as methylene chloride, tetrachloroethylene, trichloroethane and trichloroethylene
  • Concentrated acids and bases
  • All alkanes and water-insoluble hydrocarbons such as mineral spirits and petroleum hydrocarbons

If you’ve got these materials containers, and you want to discard them safely, contact a hazardous waste transportation company in your area.

Safe ways to dispose of empty hazardous material containers

The following are safe options for disposing of empty toxic materials containers.

1. Recycling

The recycling of empty hazardous material containers should be done in strict compliance with the local government's guidelines.

The original content determines the safe way of disposing of hazardous material containers. You shouldn’t throw them into standard recycling bins as toxic residue can harm the recycling staff and workers handling them at pickup or disposal sites. Besides, it can cause serious environmental damages. Here’s a simple guide on how to recycle empty hazardous materials containers:

  • If you’re disposing of standard household containers for things like lawn pesticides, drain cleaners, antifreeze, nail polish and motor oil, treat and mark them before recycling. Some plastic, metal and glass containers are also recyclable.
  • Ensure that you empty, clean and dry the containers to remove chemical residue.
  • Remove the caps and labels and mark the container as “EMPTY.”
  • You can air-dry containers for volatile organic solvents like methanol, ethanol, petroleum ether and acetone, in a ventilated area before recycling.

2. Reusing

Although they originally contained hazardous materials, empty containers can be reused whenever appropriate or possible. For instance, you can use old containers to collect or dispose of spill residues. However, ensure that the containers are compatible with the toxic waste or other chemicals you store in them. You should clean the container before reusing to avoid possible explosive chemical reactions. Finally, you must remove the containers’ original labels and mark the container with labels clearly displaying its current contents.

3. Disposal

Some empty hazardous material containers aren’t reusable or recyclable. Thus, they need to be disposed of appropriately adhering to the EPA regulations as well as the institutional or local disposal guidelines. Follow the following steps to dispose of them:

  • Before discarding the containers, clean them thrice with compatible solvents.
  • Air-dry the container.
  • Remove all labels, indicators and warning signs such as “hazardous” or “flammable,” and write “EMPTY” on the containers.
  • Remove the seals or caps.
  • Place the empty container in the institutional or community disposal site.

4. Hire a skip

Empty hazardous waste containers can be disposed of as toxic wastes. Based on the nature the can's original material, hiring a skip may be the easiest and most convenient method of disposing of the containers. Contact a skip hire service in your region to learn more about what you can put in a skip.

5. Contact a junk removal company

If you've got many empty hazardous material containers to dispose of, consider finding a junk removal service in your region. Ensure that the company you contact is licensed and complies with EPA guidelines on safe disposal of hazardous wastes.

Are you looking for a safe option to dispose of an empty hazardous material container? Follow these steps, and you’ll help minimize the harmful impacts the hazardous waste containers can cause to the public health and environment.