Safe Disposal of Harmful Products
If not properly handled, certain household products can end up in local waterways and harm the environment. These products should never be flushed down the toilet, poured into a household drain or discarded at the curb. Use the list below as a guide to help ensure that harmful products don’t enter our waterways. Your actions can have a big impact!
Nothing should ever be poured down catch basin or storm sewer. If you witness someone illegally disposing of harmful products, call 311
or file a report online
Be sure to take a look at the NYC Department of Sanitation (DSNY) Harmful Products Guide for the latest information. You can bring certain harmful household products to DSNY SAFE Disposal Events or Special Waste Drop-Off Sites.
Cleaning products labeled with “DANGER—CORROSIVE” should never be disposed at the curb, into a storm sewer or catch basin, or down any drain. This includes highly corrosive liquids such as hydrofluoric, sulfiric or muriatic acids.
For more information about how to properly dispose of household cleaning products, visit the DSNY website.
Fertilizers, Pesticides and Weed Control Products
Unwanted fertilizers, pesticides and herbicides should never be poured down a household drain, storm sewer or catch basin. You can help by using non-toxic lawn and garden care products and purchasing only what you need so that you can use up the product completely.
If you need to discard leftover fertilizer, pesticide or weed control products, follow DSNY recommendations for safe disposal.
Pouring fat, oil, or grease down your kitchen sink can clog household pipes or sewers completely. When wastewater can’t move freely through the sewer system due to a blockage, it can cause flooding and even sewage to backup into your home! Take a look at our Grease Disposal tips to protect your pipes and prevent a sewer backup. If you own a business, check out our Grease Guidelines for Businesses.
Cars use many products that can be harmful to our environment. Antifreeze, gasoline, motor oil or transmission fluid should never be disposed at the curb, into a storm sewer or catch basin, or down the drain. Car batteries and tires also contain harmful substances that can seep into waterways if they are not properly discarded.
You can help by promptly fixing fluid leaks, cleaning up any spills, and learning how to safely discard automotive products. For more information about how to safely dispose of automotive materials, visit the DSNY website.
Generally, unwanted medications should never be flushed down the toilet. Follow NY State Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) recommendations for Safe Medication Disposal for Households. Visit the DSNY website or the DEC website for drop off locations and additional information.
Applicances with CFC/Freon
Appliances such as air conditioners, dehumidifiers, freezers and refrigerators contain chlorofluorocarbons (CFCs). CFCs, also sometimes referred to by the trade name “Freon,” cause damage to the earth’s ozone layer when they are released into the air. Before putting any appliance that contains CFCs on the curb for recycling, call 311, or fill in this online form, to schedule an appointment to have the CFCs safely removed by an expert from DSNY.
All batteries can be brought to a DSNY SAFE Disposal Event or to any DSNY Special Waste Drop-Off Site for recycling. Alkaline batteries are no longer classified as harzardous in New York State, but it is more environmentally friendly to bring them to a drop-off site instead of discarding in the regular garbage.
It is illegal to discard rechargeable batteries in the garbage or regular recycling. In New York State, most stores that sell rechargeable batteries, including pharmacies, and office supply and hardware stores, will accept them free of charge. Ask for the “Call2Recycle box”. Visit call2recycle.org to find a drop-off location. If a retailer refuses to accept your rechargeable batteries, contact the DEC at 1-800-TIPP DEC (1-800-847-7332) or file a report online.
Products Containing Mercury
Mercury-containing products that are improperly disposed can cause damage to the air, local waterways, and the environment. This includes fluorescent tubes, compact fluorecent lamps (CFLs), thermostats, and thermometers.
For more information about how to properly dispose of these products, visit the DSNY website. If you witness a mercury spill, call the DEC Spills Hotline at 1-800-457-7362.
Electronics like computers, monitors, mobile devices, printers, and video game consoles have components that contain hazardous materials such as lead, mercury, and cadmium. Although they are safe to use, they can pose dangers to the environment when not properly discarded.
NY State Law requires manufacturers to collect and recycle or reuse unwanted electronics. Each manufacturer must maintain a toll-free number and website with information on how to return items for recycling. If a manufacturer refuses to accept your electronics, contact the DEC at 1-800-TIPP DEC (1-800-847-7332) or file a report online.
For more information about how to safely dispose of electronics, visit the DSNY website.
Litter, Asbestos and Pet Waste
- Litter: Trash on the streets can end up in our waterways and negatively affect harbor water quality and marine ecosystems. Learn more about how to prevent trash from entering our waterways at nyc.gov/trashfreewaters.
- Asbestos: If you are renovating or demolishing a building, you must conform to asbestos abatement regulations to avoid release of asbestos fibers into the air. Our Asbestos Control Program provides guidance for the proper handling, storing, and disposal of asbestos-containing materials.
- Pet Waste: If left on the ground, pet waste can wash into our waterways, harming wildlife and communities. Leaving pet waste on the ground is also illegal and can come with a $250 fine. Use a pooper “scooper” or plastic bag to pick it up! If you witness someone failing to pick up after their pets, you can file an animal waste complaint online or call 311.