Preserving the environment and protecting the public health and safety as well as the health and safety of everyone involved in the waste disposal chain is a job the SWA takes seriously. Managing Palm Beach County’s waste is the SWA’s job and everything we do - from waste reduction efforts to transporting to processing to final disposal of waste - is designed to minimize the impact the waste we create has on our local environment.

But some wastes are worse than others. Nearly every home and small business has some type of chemical product that can be hazardous to your family, coworkers, solid waste workers and facilities, and the environment if not used, stored, and disposed of properly. That’s why we have an entire staff devoted solely to collecting these products in order to keep them out of the garbage, protect the people and facilities who handle the garbage, and protect the environment.

Most of us recognize that household hazardous waste (HHW), materials like used oil, pesticides, and flammable liquids, shouldn’t be put in the garbage. However, materials such as fluorescent lamps, rechargeable batteries and electronics also contain toxic metals like mercury and cadmium that require proper disposal, and other chemicals are flammable, corrosive, reactive or toxic when mixed in the trash.

The SWA collects these materials, more than 1.7 million pounds last year, through our HHW facilities as we have for more than 15 years. There is no fee for residents and the SWA provides a fee-based system for qualifying low quantity small business generators.

And as consumer habits, styles and technology change, the SWA responds to meet those new challenges. In recent years, we have seen an explosion in the amount of discarded electronics and rechargeable batteries, and in the near future we expect to see lots of fluorescent lamps. The SWA accepts E-waste from County residents and everything we collect is processed and recycled in the U.S., and while rechargeable batteries are on the rise, the SWA has been collecting and recycling rechargeable batteries for more than 15 years.

On the horizon, due to federal legislation starting in 2012 the familiar incandescent bulbs that we all use will begin to be phased out in favor of more energy efficient bulbs, such as fluorescents. Unfortunately, fluorescent lamps contain mercury and must be disposed of properly. But, the SWA is ready. We recycled over 19,000 pounds of fluorescent lamps last year alone, and we are fully prepared for what the future brings.

The SWA’s HHW program is just one very important way that the SWA protects public health, safety and the environment. To learn more, click on the following links.

HHW Program