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2022 HHW Collections: A Successful Season at Keeping You Safe

The Barnstable County Hazardous Materials Program intercepted 600,970 pounds of hazardous waste from residents in 2022 BEFORE these toxic substances made their way into our aquifer, which provides the Cape’s drinking water. Common household toxins and chemicals ranging from mercury to pesticides were collected at Household Hazardous Waste (HHW) Collections that were held throughout the Cape. These chemicals were not poured down the drain, tossed into the trash or recycling or left around to become a hazard to families, wildlife, and our drinking water. 

Here at Extension’s Hazardous Materials Program we are proud to be able to serve Cape residents and small businesses in doing the right thing by disposing of common household chemicals and toxins properly. Attending an HHW collection is a tangible and proactive approach to making a positive difference to the overall environmental health of the Cape; to your family and pets; and to our drinking water.  The collections events, in additional to our outreach email, allows us to address and respond to the many questions you have about what items are considered hazardous and how to dispose of certain items. Continue reading for our most commonly asked questions of 2022 – and their answers, too.  

Latex paint 

Latex and other water-based paints are not hazardous. The cost of disposing of non-hazardous paint as hazardous is 27% more than if disposed of as solid waste. Consider using water-based paints up, buying less, donating to organizations that need paint, or giving to folks who are on a fixed income. There is a global paint shortage and paint is VERY expensive.   

Sharps Collections and Disposal Options 

Barnstable County continues to operate the Residential Sharps Collection Program in coordination with towns and fire districts across Cape Cod, with multiple locations available for drop-off of used sharps and pick-up of free sharps containers anonymously and at no charge. Over 20,000 pounds of used sharps were diverted from the solid waste and collected according to state regulations in Barnstable County in 2022.  Over 3,000 regulation sharps containers were distributed for free to Cape Codders at designated locations.  You can find out how to dispose of sharps as well as other products here. 

General HHW Collections Info and Why We Have Them 

Cape Cod residents and small businesses have access to 24 HHW events from April through October. This allows far more access than most other residents in the Commonwealth to correctly dispose of items too toxic to trash, thus protecting our solid waste and recycling from contamination. Cape Cod has a fragile and vulnerable drinking water supply, an unconfined, sole-source aquifer. HHW events proactively protect our drinking water supply. Disposing of poisonous chemicals before an emergency protects our first responders from toxic exposures and protects our environment in storm events where flooding or destruction of homes may be common (see Florida…).  

The HHW events allow residents to create a healthy home environment for families, pets, and visitors. HHW events allow small businesses access to legal, convenient, and inexpensive environmentally-friendly disposal.   

We are already planning for the 2023 season and being able to help you find ways to safely dispose of your hazardous waste. The 2023 brochures will be published in early spring, you can find updates at our website and our Facebook page. Thank you for loving your local water!