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Household Hazardous Waste - Information for Event Coordinators

Overview of HHW

Providing household hazardous waste collection to the citizens of Tennessee is an important and worthwhile cause. Proper disposal of HHW helps to protect the environment and sanitation workers and can reduce the toxicity of landfill leachate. Additionally, it provides an opportunity for citizens to rid their homes of potentially dangerous chemicals.

Tennessee's Mobile Collection Service is open to any Tennessee resident. The program is limited to households. Businesses, institutions, and agri-business operations should contact a permitted hazardous waste transporter for proper disposal. Agri-businesses may, however, dispose of their pesticides through the Agricultural Pesticide Waste Collection Program.

New Developments in the HHW Program

In an effort to provide mobile collection service to a greater number of counties and to capture the most hazardous household chemicals throughout the State the HHW Program will no longer accept paint or electronics at the mobile collection events. Local governments will be expected to provide regular collection of batteries, oil, paint, antifreeze, and electronics (BOPAE) to be considered for future HHW service. The minimum requirements to be considered to receive mobile HHW collection service are detailed in the following section.

The State’s contractor will collect oil-based paint only, at fixed locations (i.e. convenience centers, recycling centers, etc.). They will continue to provide storage containers, box liners, and milk run pickup service. This service will continue to be provided at no cost to the County. Refer to the Household Paint Management Guidance and Policy for details.

In Fiscal Year 2010, paint and electronics combined represented a statewide average of 74% by weight and 35% by costs of materials collected and managed at mobile HHW events. This volume of material requires the mobilization of increased staffing by the contractor and the county, heavy equipment, and additional supplies and resources to adequately manage these wastes at mobile collection events. Experience indicates that when these two minimally hazardous waste streams are diverted away from the mobile collection events participation and idle times in long lines decrease tremendously. Reduced participation and shorter traffic lines allow for smaller HHW event sites. We suggest hosting events at solid waste convenience centers or recycling centers where BOPAE is currently managed by the county.

The Household Hazardous Waste Program staff is available to discuss options that can best meet the needs of each County. Learn more about year round collection of BOPAE and hosting successful BOPAE Collection Events. If you would like to participate and need technical assistance in launching a local BOPAE program please contact Bob Fletcher by email or at 615-532-9265.

Minimum Requirements to Qualify for an HHW Collection Event

The HHW Program has established criteria for scheduling HHW events. The following provides an overview of minimum requirements to qualify for an HHW Collection event. These requirements are established to eliminate the collection of BOPAE materials at mobile events and provide funding for disposal of the most hazardous materials found in households. A county shall provide regular or year round services directly or by contract, if adequate sites are not otherwise available in the county for the use of the residents of the county.

Alkaline Batteries: The County may recycle alkaline batteries or educate the public that alkaline batteries no longer contain mercury and therefore may be disposed in their garbage.

Rechargeable Batteries (Ni-Cd, Ni-MH, Li-Ion, Ni-Zn, small sealed lead acid): The County shall provide year round collection and recycling of rechargeable batteries. The Rechargeable Battery Recycling Corporation (RBRC) offers a collection program at no cost.

Lead Acid Batteries: Per T.C.A. 68-211-866, “each county shall provide directly, by contract or through a solid waste authority at least one (1) site to receive and store waste tires, used automotive oils and fluids, and lead-acid batteries, if adequate sites are not otherwise available in the county for the use of the residents of the county.”  Lead acid batteries have value and most counties contract with a local battery recycler.

All other batteries shall be managed by the State HHW Contractor at mobile HHW collections.

Used Automotive Oil: Per T.C.A. 68-211-866, “each county shall provide directly, by contract or through a solid waste authority at least one (1) site to receive and store waste tires, used automotive oils and fluids, and lead-acid batteries, if adequate sites are not otherwise available in the county for the use of the residents of the county.” Well managed used oil collection generates revenue from used oil transporters or provides cost avoidance when collected by the county and burned in used oil heaters.

Used Antifreeze: Per T.C.A. 68-211-866, “each county shall provide directly, by contract or through a solid waste authority at least one (1) site to receive and store waste tires, used automotive oils and fluids, and lead-acid batteries, if adequate sites are not otherwise available in the county for the use of the residents of the county.” Most used oil transporters provide antifreeze collection at no cost in order to get the used oil also. Otherwise, antifreeze collection and recycling averages a cost of $35-50 per 55-gallon drum.

Paint: The County shall provide regular collections of oil-based paint. Oil-based paint shall be collected at a fixed location and disposed by the State HHW contractor in scheduled milk run pick-ups. The county may collect and manage the latex paint by recycling or solidification, as approved by the Department’s Division of Solid Waste Management Environmental Field Office. Refer to the Household Paint Management Guidance and Policy for details.

Electronics: The County shall provide scheduled collections of household electronic scrap for recycling. The equipment to be collected shall include central processing units (CPUs), laptops, cathode ray tubes (CRTs), televisions, flat screen monitors, peripherals, printers, scanners/copiers, fax machines, cell phones, and personal digital assistants.

Organizing and Hosting HHW Collection Events 

HHW - The Division of Solid Waste Management (SWM) has a policy guide for counties interested in planning an HHW collection event. The policy guide describes the responsibilities of the State, the host county, and the State's HHW contractor. These responsibilities are based on Federal and State laws, regulations, and policies concerning the management of HHW.

HHW collection events only occur in the spring and fall to avoid extreme conditions.  Spring events begin in late March and end in early June.  Fall events begin on the Saturday after Labor Day and end in early November. HHW events do not occur on Easter or Memorial Day weekend. Request for service may be sent up to a year in advance, but must be received by December 1st of the previous year.  

The State pays the contractor a minimum set-up fee each time the HHW Collection Service is mobilized regardless of the participation at the event. In order to provide the most cost efficient service, the events should be well utilized. A collection event cannot be successful without advertisement. Sample press releases and advertisements are available. In addition, a pre-event checklist and timeline for local coordinators is available to assist in planning and advertising the event.

Year Round Collection of HHW and BOPAE

Solid Waste Management encourages counties to educate its citizens year-round concerning the proper use and disposal of HHW. Counties should use all available means to communicate the characteristics of HHW, the consequences of improper disposal, and the basic concept of reducing, reusing, and recycling HHW whenever possible.

By following certain guidelines, many HHW items (i.e. propane tanks, computers and televisions, paint, batteries, used oil, antifreeze, fluorescent lamps, mercury thermostats, and oil filters) can be safely collected by existing solid waste staff on a year-round basis. This higher level of service to local residents can reduce mobile collection costs, prevent landfilling of waste, and improve water quality. The Division of Solid Waste Management established Household Paint Management Guidance and Policyfor counties involved in household paint collection and handling.