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High Country Conservation Center 737 Ten Mile Dr Frisco CO 80443 PO Box 4506 Frisco CO 80443


(970) 668-5703


Dear Eartha, I have some old paint and electronics in my house that I need to get rid of, but I feel bad throwing them away. Are there options to recycle household items? 

It’s that time of the year. Time to get out of the winter funk and refresh our spaces with some spring cleaning. But inevitably, after a good spring cleaning you are left with a pile of old items that you need to get rid of. Luckily, you don’t have to toss those items in the trash! In fact, it is best you don’t.  

Household items often contain hazardous materials that shouldn’t go into the landfill because it can be absorbed into our soil and water. In fact, because of this, landfills do not accept liquids or electronics meaning it’s against the law to toss them! But don’t worry, Summit County offers great services to help you easily (and properly) dispose of household hazardous waste, meaning that you can truly feel good about spring cleaning. 

What is Household Hazardous Waste? 

Household hazardous waste (referred to as HHW in the recycling industry) is a fancy name for many of the items that you use every day. Think of batteries, paint, medications, electronics, cleaning products, etc. Hazardous waste can come in many forms, so it is important to be aware of which products might be considered HHW in your home.  

A great way to check to see if products may be classified as HHW is to read the labels. Words such as poison, toxic, corrosive, volatile, flammable, combustible, explosive, danger, caution, warning and harmful are all signs that these products are HHW. Other items such as computers or old electronics may not have labels but should be treated as HHW too. If you are not sure if something is considered HHW, check out and use the search tool to find out more. 

Why can’t HHW go into the landfill? 

The average household throws around away 15 pounds of HHW into the trash each year. Some people may incorrectly dispose of HHW products, for example pouring oil down the drain or flushing medicines. Mishandling HHW in ways such as these it can render lakes and streams unsafe for wildlife and pets, and lead to declining vegetation and animal populations. It can have negative impacts on humans, too. Being exposed to hazardous waste substances through contaminated drinking water can cause birth defects, genetic mutations, and cancer. 

Dumping HHW into your trash bin (and eventually the landfill) releases hazardous substances into the environment, where they can infiltrate soil and water systems. Additionally, if you throw electronics in the trash, you’re breaking Colorado law. Even scarier? When HHW materials are mixed, it can cause the release of toxic fumes, start fires, and create dangerous work environments for those who dispose of our trash. So, it’s in everyone’s best interest to make sure we dispose of HHW properly. 

What do you do with hazardous waste? 

Fortunately, Summit County makes it easy to drop off items like old paints and electronics. In fact, Summit County is hosting its annual Hard to Recycle Event on Saturday, June 1 from 8:00 a.m. to 2:00 p.m. This event allows you to drive through the Summit Stage Bus Barn in Frisco and drop off many types of HHW including electronic waste, paints, adhesives, fertilizers, batteries, fluorescent bulbs, and medicines. It can’t get much easier than that! Remember that appliances, scrap metal, tires, gas tanks, ammunition and commercial loads are not accepted at the event but can be brought to the Summit County Resource Allocation Park (SCRAP). Make sure to check out the list of items that are accepted before you stop by. 

If you can’t make it to the Hard to Recycle Event, don’t worry. The SCRAP accepts HHW year-round. You can visit the Summit County Resource Allocation Park’s website to learn more about their hours and which HHW items they accept.  

As you clean out your home this mud season, let’s prioritize keeping our community clean! Take advantage of Summit County’s great recycling services because proper disposal and management of HHW is crucial to protecting our community’s health and safety.  

Ask Eartha Steward is written by the staff at the High Country Conservation Center, a nonprofit dedicated to waste reduction and resource conservation. Submit questions to Eartha at 

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