Many recycling centers do not accept hazardous wastes commonly found around the home, such as car batteries, paints and oven cleaners. But with a little extra effort, those products can be recycled too--or at least disposed of properly.
Several government agencies hold periodic hazardous waste roundups, where household wastes of all types are collected free of charge. The County Sanitation Districts has tentatively scheduled its next roundup on Oct. 20 at Hollywood Park in Inglewood. For more information, call (213) 908-4286.
The city of Los Angeles also sponsors roundups, although none is currently scheduled. To get on the city's mailing list for announcements about upcoming collections, call (213) 237-1634. Contact your local city government for more information about roundups in other cities.
The publishers of "The Recycler's Handbook: Simple Things You Can Do," which is scheduled to be in bookstores Nov. 15, make suggestions about how best to handle household wastes that are difficult to recycle. The book can be obtained by sending $4.95 plus tax and a $1 shipping fee to The EarthWorks Group, 1400 Shattuck Ave., 25, Berkeley, CA 94709, or by calling (415) 841-5866.
Among the recommendations:
* Batteries--If a service station changes your battery, check to make sure it will be recycled. If you replace your own battery, buy the new one from a retailer who will recycle the old one. If you cannot find someone to recycle an old battery, take it to a hazardous waste facility or to a hazardous waste roundup. Do not store old batteries for any length of time in your garage or house.
* Motor Oil--If a service station changes your oil, check to make sure it will be recycled. If not, take your car elsewhere. If you change your own oil, store it in a screw-cap container that will not leak, such as a plastic milk jug, or use a recycling kit available in hardware and automotive stores. Avoid spilling oil on the ground, where it will leak into the ground water or wash into storm drains--and eventually go into the ocean. Take old oil to collection sites at service stations and garages or to a hazardous waste facility or roundup.
* Paint--If old latex paints still look fresh, mix them together and use them as a primer. Some communities have paint exchange programs, where people bring reusable paint to trade or give away. Check with your city government. Unusable paint should be disposed of at a hazardous waste facility or roundup.
* Paint Thinner--Put used thinner in a jar. After it settles, reuse the clean thinner on top, and let the sediment sink to the bottom. When enough sediment accumulates, dispose of it at a hazardous waste facility or roundup.
* Household Products--The EPA estimates that 25% of hazardous wastes come from homes. The culprits include lighter fluid, pesticides, furniture polish, nail polish, nail polish remover, drain openers, scouring powders, oven and toilet bowl cleaners, caulk, mothballs and adhesives. Give unneeded products to neighbors or friends who could use them, or properly store and label them for future use. Otherwise take them to a hazardous waste facility or roundup.