Hazardous waste disposal

This is not an official page of the City of Austin.  Yeah, you'd think that would be obvious...

Not in Austin?

Then find your local hazmat facility by zip code.

Never put paints & household chemicals into your normal trash!

When chemicals are compacted in the garbage truck, they can mix with other chemicals and produce toxic fumes which can harm sanitation workers. Or they can drip out of the truck and harm pets, people, and waterways when they're washed into the creek system. Even if they make it to the landfill, the landfill can't keep all the chemicals from washing away into waterways.

So what do you do with them instead?

Take them to the City's Hazardous Waste Facility, 2514 Business Center Drive in Southest Austin. Call 974-4343 for directions and hours, or visit their website.  (Available only for households.  State law won't allow the City to accept from businesses.)

And here are some other ways to get rid of specific items:

Ways to get rid of specific kinds of hazmat

Motor Oil. If you need only to dispose of waste motor oil, contact your area service station, quick oil-change businesses, or auto parts store. Many of these establishments accept waste oil. (If you can't find one, call the City's Solid Waste Services hotline at 494-9400.)

Rechargeable batteries.  You can recycle these nearly anywhere -- Sears, Home Depot, Best Buy, Wal-Mart, Lowe's, Target, Office Depot, and more.  See Call2Recycle for the complete list.

Button Batteries.
Call the City at 974-4335 for a list of places that accept button batteries.

No local store accepts these, because they're not cost-effective to recycle.  The only way to recycle these is to buy a big collection box from an out-of-state recycler for $63, which includes the postage to mail the batteries to them.

Paint. All latex paint can be dried out and thrown in the trash.  If the can has paint in it you can mix cat litter in with it to solidify it and then throw it in the trash.  If it is a considerable amount you can paint a piece of cardboard over and over.  You can also pour it in thin layers in a shallow tray and let it dry.  Once latex is dry it is safe to throw it in the landfill.  The lid needs to be off the container so that the garbage collectors know the container is empty or dry.  (The Habitat for Humanity REstore no longer accepts paint.)

Computers. Here's a list of places that accept old computers and electronics.

Other Items. For recycling items not listed above, check out the Ecology Action website.

And in the future, try to avoid buying hazardous materials in the first place, so you don't have to worry about how to dispose of it.

What's considered hazardous waste?

The City's HWF (Hazardous Waste Facility) accepts household quantities of
  • pesticides, herbicides, & fertilizers
  • paint & paint products (e.g., thinners)
  • automotive chemicals (gas, oil, oil filters, antifreeze, etc.)
  • swimming pool chemicals
  • photographic chemicals
  • fluorescent bulbs
  • aerosol cans, cleaning fluids, & other household chemicals
  • household & car batteries

The City does NOT accept:

  • wastes generated by businesses
  • unidentifiable materials
  • radioactive materials (including smoke detectors)
  • ammunition
  • explosive or shock-sensitive materials
  • compressed gases
  • biologically active materials

Visit the City's HWF website.

Be careful when buying paint

  • When buying paint, consider getting eco-friendly, low-odor, VOC-free paint. VOC's are Volatile Organic Compounds, which cause nervous system damage, give you headaches, and create smog. No- and low-VOC paints are made by:
  • When possible, use water-based paints instead of oil-based paints.

  • Only buy what you need. Don't "stock up" on paint you'll never use.

Avoid buying other chemicals in the first place

  • Use sandpaper or a heat gun instead of a liquid furniture stripper.

  • Avoid purchasing any kind of pesticide. You'll avoid accidental poisoning of children and pets. Pesticides are also one of the most harmful chemicals, harming human and animal life, and ruining waterways (like the Colorado River).

Before you throw away...

What happens to the paint I get rid of?

Habitat for Humanity sells used building materials at their retail store. So, hopefully, someone may buy your old paint that you donate. (310 Comal, 478-2165)

Good-quality latex paint collected at the City's Hazardous Waste Facility is recycled into latex primer. Unrecyclable oil-based paints and solvent are incinerated and destroyed.

What are the guidelines for using the facility?

  • Facility is open only to residents of Austin or Travis County, and not businesses.
  • Sort paint cans by type (i.e., latex, oil-based, lead-based).
  • If a container has no label, place a label on the container stating its contents.
  • Please bring chemicals in sturdy boxes and sorted by type. Wrap glass containers in newspaper to prevent breakage.
  • Do NOT transport chemicals in the passenger compartment of your vehicle; put them in your trunk.
  • For your safety, please do not enter the facility on foot.

Related information

Have non-hazardous stuff you want to recycle? Here's How to Recycle Just About Anything in Austin, Texas.

Last Update: June 2010

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