Hazardous Waste

Many materials most people use on a day to day basis fall in the category of Hazardous Waste and should not be disposed of with regular household waste. Some of these items, even in small quantities, can pose significant risks to trash truck drivers, landfill operators, and the environment! In fact, a vast majority of the fires that occur in trash trucks and at landfills can be traced to improperly disposed of hazardous waste.

For a complete list of typical household hazardous waste, that can easily be disposed of with the help of the City, please make sure to visit the Household Hazardous Waste Day page. The City of Lowell routinely coordinates several Household Hazardous Waste Days per year as an opportunity for residents to remove household hazardous waste from their home, instead of just throwing these materials out with the trash - which is illegal! Household Hazardous Waste Days are announced in advance on the City's website, as well as through the Solid Waste and Recycling Newsletter, and email subscription list.

Though some hazardous waste materials aren't accepted through the City's collection programs, other options exist may be available as highlighted below.

Asbestos


  • Asbestos waste is highly dangerous, illegal to remove/dispose of without a licensed contractor, and is not accepted for disposal through the City.
  • Disposal of Asbestos in City waste through the City's waste stream is illegal!
  • Do not attempt to remove asbestos materials yourself.
  • For proper Asbestos disposal, please refer to the local Yellow Pages or other information directory under Asbestos Removal for a licensed contractor.

Batteries


  • Most all batteries are generally considered hazardous waste.
    • Ni-Cd and other rechargeable batteries, such as those found in cordless phones, laptop computers, power tools, electric toothbrushes, beepers, etc.
    • Button batteries, such as those found in hearing aids, watches, calculators, etc.
    • Specialty batteries, such as lithium camera batteries, cell phone batteries, etc.
    • Lead-Acid batteries, such as automotive, motorcycle, security, etc.
    • Note that Alkaline Batteries (e.g., regular A, AA, AAA, C, D, 9 volt) are considered an exception, do not fall into the category of hazardous, and may be disposed of at home with your regular trash.
  • Options for proper battery disposal include bringing them to:
    • A Household Hazardous Waste Day
    • City Hall (Room 34), weekdays between 8:30 a.m. and 4:30 p.m.
    • Department of Public Works weekdays between 8:30 a.m. and 4:30 p.m.

Cell Phones


  • While cell phone batteries are generally considered hazardous waste, the non-battery components are not.
  • Though your cell phone may no longer be useful for you, it may still be recycled and be useful for someone else!
  • Through a joint effort with Keep Lowell Beautiful, cell phones (including their cases, batteries, and accessories) are collected to help raise money for the City's recycling initiatives.
  • Prior to recycling your cell phone, regardless of whom it is recycled through, please make it a point to reset it to the factory default, or otherwise wipe the contents on it clear - this is an important habit to help keep your personal information private - only you can guarantee your privacy.
  • Please note that we can not be responsible for any data on cell phones that are recycled with us.

Commercial, Construction, or Industrial Waste


  • Non-residential waste, as well as any waste resulting from commercial or industrial businesses or organizations (regardless of their non-profit or for-profit status), is accepted for disposal through the City.
  • Disposal of commercial, construction, or industrial waste through the City's waste stream is illegal. This includes shingles, dry wall, railroad ties, etc.
  • For proper disposal of these materials, please refer to the local Yellow Pages or other information directory under Waste Removal for a licensed contractor.

Expired / Unused Medications


  • Expired / Unused medications, particularly those that are governed by controlled substance laws, are not accepted for disposal through the City's waste stream.
  • You should be aware that it is illegal to dispose of controlled substances into the City's waste stream!
  • In order to reduce your liability, reduce environmental impact, and reduce the risk of having medications fall "into the wrong hands," the City's Health Department has arrangements for how to ensure proper disposal of expired / unused medications.
  • Find out more about disposing sharps or contact the Health Department directly at 978-674-4308, to discus any comments, questions, or concerns you may have.

Explosives, Fireworks, or Ammunition


  • Used and unused materials related to explosives, fireworks or ammunition is highly dangerous, and is not accepted for disposal through the City.
  • Disposal of explosives, fireworks, or ammunition through the City's waste stream is illegal.
  • This includes combustible and inert powders, casings, and materials which are intended to generate any type of explosive force.
  • For proper disposal of these materials, please contact the Fire Department at 978-459-5556 for assistance.

Infectious & Biological Waste


  • No infectious or biological waste of any kind is accepted for disposal through the City.
  • Disposal of infectious or biological waste through the City's waste stream is illegal.
  • For proper disposal of these materials, please refer to the local Yellow Pages or other information directory under Bio-hazard Waste Disposal.

Latex Paint


  • Latex paint is not considered to be hazardous waste due to its ingredients.
  • However, due to the "splatter and mess factor," latex pain must be dehydrated (dried or hardened) prior to being placed into the City's waste stream.
  • The best thing to do is to either leave the lids off the cans until the paint dries, or to help the drying process along with kitty litter (or a paint hardener that can be purchased where paint is sold).
  • Once the paint is dry, you can put it out with the trash, but should leave the lid off, so that the waste collector knows that the paint is dry.
  • Paint cans with a lid on, or which are not dry, will not be collected because of the mess they can make within the trucks and city streets.
  • Incidentally, since latex paint is not considered hazardous waste, may be collected in the City's waste stream (as instructed above), and hazardous waste removal is at an additional cost to the City, we have specifically chosen to not allow the collection of latex paint during household hazardous waste days.

Sharps / Hypodermic Needles, Including Lancets & Syringes

  • Starting July 1, 2012 the disposal of sharps, hypodermic needles, lancets, and syringes through the City's waste stream is illegal.
  • In order to reduce your liability, prevent harm to others, and reduce the environmental impact, the City's Health Department has arrangements for how to ensure proper disposal of expired/unused medications.
  • Please visit the Sharp Disposal page to find out where to dispose of your sharps or contact the Health Department directly at 978-674-4308, to discus any comments, questions, or concerns you may have.

Smoke Detectors


  • Smoke detectors are not considered to he hazardous waste due to their ingredients.
  • For proper disposal of smoke detectors, either place them into the City's waste stream, or mail them back to their manufacturer (whose address is typically found on the underside of the unit).

Radioactive Waste


  • No radioactive waste of any kind is accepted for disposal through the City.
  • Disposal of radioactive waste through the City's waste stream is illegal.
  • For proper disposal of these materials, please refer to the local Yellow Pages or other information directory under Radioactive Waste Disposal or Bio-hazard Waste Disposal.

Used / Waste Motor Oil


  • Used / waste motor oil is considered hazardous waste, and is very damaging to our waterways and ground water when disposed of improperly.
  • Disposal of used / waste motor oil through the City's waste stream, or dumping of it into the City's sewer system or catch basins is illegal!
  • For proper disposal of used/waste motor oil, there are several options including:
    • All Massachusetts retail stores which sell motor oil are required to take back used motor oil if you have a receipt.
      • The law provides for a limit of two gallons per person per day.
      • You can call the Used Oil Hotline with questions or to report retailers who are unwilling to accept used oil from customers with a receipt at 617-556-1022.
  • The Lowell Regional Waste Water Utility accepts waste oil collection monthly year round.
    • Monthly collections are accepted on the last Saturday of the month
    • Collection hours are 8 a.m. to noon
    • Used / Waste motor oil is also accepted during Household Hazardous Waste Days

Used Vegetable / Cooking Oils & Grease

  • Used vegetable / cooking oils and grease is considered a hazardous waste, and is very damaging to our waterways and ground water when disposed of improperly.
  • Disposal of used vegetable / cooking oils and grease through the City's waste stream, or dumping of it into the City's sewer system or catch basins is illegal!
  • For proper residential disposal of used vegetable/cooking oils and grease, please pack the material in the original containers, and bring them to a Household Hazardous Waste Day.
  • no commercial quantities are disposable through the City.
  • For proper commercial disposal of used vegetable / cooking oils and grease, please refer to the local yellow pages or other information directory under Waste Oil Disposal.

For More Information


For more information about hazardous waste visit the Massachusetts Department of Environmental Protection's (DEP) website or contact one of the following as applicable:
  • For questions about mercury, contact the Mercury Hotline at 866-963-7287
  • For poison exposure information, contact Poison Control at 617-232-2120
  • For consumer questions re hazardous waste, contact the DEP Household Hazardous Waste Hotline at 800-343-3420
  • For general information on hard to manage wastes, contact the DEP Coordinator for Hard to Manage Wastes at 617-292-5704
  • For questions from businesses about how to manage hazardous materials, contact the DEP Business Compliance Assistance at 617-292-5898
  • For questions specifically about used oil collection centers, contact the DEP Used Oil Hotline at 617-556-1022
  • For confidential technical assistance to businesses by a non-regulatory agency, contact the Massachusetts Office of Technical Assistance at 617-727-3260
For information on DEP activities in specific geographic areas, contact one of the following DEP Regional Service Centers, as applicable:
  • Northeast Phone: 978-661-7677
  • Southeast Phone: 508-946-2714
  • Central Phone: 508-792-7683
  • Western Phone: 413-784-1100, extension 261