On average, every Utah citizen generates four pounds of garbage daily. With 2 million Utah residents, that means our landfills could receive 8 million pounds daily or 2.9 billion pounds yearly.
About 85 percent of this garbage winds up in landfills. Of the remaining 15 percent, about 10 percent is recycled and 5 percent is incinerated.
Household trash presents another serious problem: between 5 and 15 percent of what we throw away contains hazardous substances which can contaminate air, water, and soil and harm people or other living things.
The average household contains 3 to 10 gallons of materials that are hazardous to human health or the natural environment.
The real answer to managing household waste is to reduce the amount we generate.
Buy durable products. Look for items with the least packaging. Buy only what you need. Use cloth shopping bags, napkins, and diapers. Compost grass cuttings or get a mulching lawnmower.
Save food containers for storing leftovers. Share excess hazardous products like paint, oven cleaner or pesticides with neighbors.
First, reduce and reuse. Recycle what is left. What you can recycle depends upon where you live and what markets are available.
Items most commonly recycled include:
- Aluminum (both cans and foil)
- Automotive Oil
- Computer Paper
- Corrugated Cardboard
- Newspapers and Magazines
- Steel (generally “tin” cans)
- Telephone Books
- White Paper
Potentially Hazardous Waste
What is hazardous waste?
The Environmental Protection Agency defines it as corrosive, toxic, or flammable products that can react or explode when mixed with other substances.
How can I tell if an item is hazardous?
Look for keywords like “caution”, “harmful”, “irritant”, or “keep away from children.” Also, look for a picture of a skull and crossbones.
What do I do next?
Try to substitute a less hazardous product.
- Use olive oil and vinegar for furniture polish.
- Use baking soda for oven cleaner.
- Use vinegar and baking soda for tub and tile cleaner.
What if I don’t use it all?
Salt Lake, Weber, and Morgan counties have hazardous waste disposal programs. Contact your local health department in other counties.
Where Do I Get More Information?
- Department of Environmental Quality: (801) 536-4400
- Project Environment: (800) 458-0145
Household Hazardous Waste
- Salt Lake County: (801) 313-6700
- Weber and Morgan Counties: (801) 399-8169
- All Other Counties: Call Local Health Department
Proper drug disposal is important to protecting our water and soil. Medications should not be flushed down the toilet, washed down the sink, or added to our landfills. Safe medication collection sites are free and can be found at law enforcement agencies and participating pharmacies across the state. Learn more:
- Use Only as Directed
- University of Utah Health “Proper Drug Disposal Safer and Easier Than Ever”
- FDA “How to Dispose of Unused Medicines”
- Disposal of Unused Medicines: What you should know
Use Oil Disposal List Available
- Utah Division of Waste Management and Radiation Control: (800) 458-0145
- Buy at Shop that Will Recycle
- Check Yellow Pages
Lead Acid Batteries
- Return to Dealer
- Check Yellow Pages