The presence of waste and hazardous materials in our environment has consequences that cut across a number of environmental issues. Waste disposal can shape land use by requiring space for landfills, rather than alternate uses. In addition, landfill disposal, as well as improper disposal of hazardous waste, can result in chemicals leaching into soil and groundwater. Additional pollution from waste may reach rivers and streams through stormwater runoff. Finally, landfill waste contributes to the production of methane, a greenhouse gas linked to global warming. Therefore, the simple steps of reducing consumption, reusing materials and recycling eligible waste not only decrease the waste stream, but have beneficial impacts on a host of related issues.
Hazardous materials may also be encountered in daily life via certain products and building materials. Lead, asbestos, radon, pesticides, and mercury are just some examples of potentially hazardous materials that may be encountered through routine activities. Therefore, it is important to understand the potential health effects of these substances, as well as how to handle and dispose of them safely.
- Of the waste collected through the Department of Public Works' residential collection program, 18.3% is recycled.
- It costs the District about $25 to haul and dispose of one ton of recyclable materials, compared to $60 per ton of non-recyclable trash.
Recycling, Waste and Hazards Resources:
- New Recycling Regulations (posted December 17, 2010)
- DC Solid Waste Management and Multi-Material Recycling
- Household Hazardous Waste Disposal in the District: Information provided by the Department of Public Works.
- Handling Compact Fluorescent Light Bulbs: A US EPA Guide [PDF] As the popularity of energy efficient light bulbs grows, consumers should be aware of how to dispose of used and broken bulbs safely.
- Recycling in the District of Columbia: Contains guides to residential and commercial recycling requirements, as well as information about which materials are ok to recycle.
- How to Manage Leftover Paint [PDF]: Tips for properly disposing of leftover paint.
- Not in Our DC: The Connect with Kids program partnered with the DC Department of Public Works to create ten powerful videos about young people and adults who are performing cleanups and bringing about change. Watch this program (in English or Spanish).
- Recycling Reports [PDF] from the Office of the Deputy Mayor for Operations