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Backgrounder: Managing Household Hazardous Waste

Archived Backgrounder

Backgrounder: Managing Household Hazardous Waste

Every year Ontarians generate almost 13 million tonnes of waste - that's nearly a tonne per person. Every day, Ontarians throw something into the garbage that could have been recycled.

Some household products contain hazardous materials that can be harmful to the environment if managed improperly. All of us have a role to play to keep these materials out of our landfills and waterways and keep our environment clean.

Do your part to manage household hazardous waste

The best way to manage household hazardous waste is to prevent or reduce the amount you generate in the first place. A simple rule is to follow the "BUDS" system:

  1. Buy only what you need
  2. Use it all up
  3. Divert waste
  4. Safely dispose of containers and residue at recycling facilities or waste drop offs.

You can return materials to your local municipal recycling facility, local drop zone, to collection events and to many retailers.

Simple actions you can take

  • When buying household items, buy only as much as you need.
  • Recycle when you can't reduce or reuse.
  • Take all your household hazardous waste to a depot.
  • Choose rechargeable batteries and long-life bulbs.
  • Bring your own reusable bags when you shop.
  • When choosing between two similar products, select the one with the least unnecessary packaging.
  • Whenever possible, buy refillable or reusable containers. Avoid containers that can only be thrown away.
  • Take your own mug or thermos to the coffee shop. Some shops will offer a discounted price when you provide your own container.

By working together, Ontario will remain a leader in the collection, recycling and safe disposal of household hazardous waste materials.

Waste Diversion Programs

Ontario is on a path to a greener future and cleaner economy with its current waste diversion programs including:

Household Hazardous Waste

The household hazardous waste program properly manages products such as paints, solvents, used oil filters, anti-freeze and single-use batteries.

Used Tires Program

The used tires program began in September 2009 and is completely implemented and funded by tire manufactures and tire importers. Tires can only go to landfill as cover or burned for fuel if recycling is not feasible. This program has significantly increased the reuse and recycling of used tires in the province.

Waste Electrical and Electronic Equipment (WEEE) Program

The waste electrical and electronic equipment program covers 44 products including desktop and portable computers, printers, televisions, copiers, telephones, cell phones and Blackberries.

Blue Box Program

Ontario's Blue Box program collects waste materials such as printer paper, glass, metal and plastic packaging. The Blue Box program plan surpassed its 60 per cent overall diversion target in 2006, two years ahead of the required date of December 31, 2008.

Bottle Return

In February 2007, Ontario launched the Bag It Back program to encourage people to return alcohol containers for recycling. 

Media Contacts

  • Gary Wheeler

    Communications Branch



  • Contact information for the general public



  • David Mullock

    Minister's Office