Hazardous Waste

What is it?

Photo mixed paint cans in cardboard box

Hazardous waste is a waste with properties that make it dangerous or capable of having a harmful effect on human health or the environment. Hazardous waste is generated from many sources — industry, business, residential, etc. — and may come in many forms, including liquids, solids and gases. These flammable, toxic, corrosive or reactive items are labeled with DANGER, WARNING or CAUTION.

What's the problem?

Hazardous waste endangers our health and safety and poses risks for our children, pets, communities, wildlife and the environment.

Most of our homes and workplaces contain many chemical-based products used for cleaning and maintenance. In our homes, it's the forgotten drain cleaner under the sink, the old gas or lawn chemicals stored in the garage, or the old paint in the basement left over from that remodeling project. At our workplace, it’s the box of burned-out fluorescent bulbs in the back hallway, the janitor’s closet filled with old paint and pesticides, or the shelf in the break room full of old cleaning products.

While these materials can be safe when used correctly and stored appropriately, improper use, storage and disposal of hazardous waste poses a number of risks and dangers including poisonings, severe burns, illness, blindness and even death. When hazardous waste ends up in the regular trash or is poured down sinks or storm drains, it becomes a problem for the entire community and the environment.


  • Read labels carefully. Avoid buying products labled danger, warning, caution, flammable, explosive, corrosive, caustic, toxic or poison.
  • Buy only what you need for the job at hand. Calculate how much paint you need.
  • Properly store and organize products to increase safety, maintain product integrity, and avoid buying what you already have.
  • Share what you can't use or don't need with a friend or neighbor.
  • Recycle what can be recycled in your area, such as motor oil and automotive batteries.
  • Use safer products whenever possible. To get started, visit Safe Alternatives.

Residential hazardous waste

Hazardous waste generated by residents at their home is called Household Hazardous Waste (HHW), and it includes items such as paint, cleaners, lawn and garden products, automotive fluids, bug sprays, fluorescent lights, and other chemical products.

Missouri residents who live in Cass, Clay, Jackson, Platte and Ray counties, have access to proper HHW disposal through the Regional Household Hazardous Waste Program. Residents who live in participating communities can dispose of HHW for no cost at either HHW facilities or HHW collection events. Missouri residents who don’t live in participating communities can dispose of HHW for a fee at the Public Disposal Area in Lee’s Summit, Missouri. 

Kansas residents who live in the city of Olathe, or Leavenworth, Wyandotte, Johnson, or Miami counties can take their HHW for free to their respective facility.

Business hazardous waste

Any hazardous waste not generated by a resident is classified as business hazardous waste. This includes businesses, industry, rental property owners, nonprofits, governments, schools, churches, etc. It is illegal for these entities to take their hazardous waste to a residential collection facility or collection event. For information on proper disposal options for businesses, visit our Business Hazardous Waste page.

Learn more

For more information about proper hazardous waste disposal in the Kansas City metro area, contact Nadja Karpilow, 816-701-8226.