February 3-9, 2016

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Beware toxic waste - in your own home

By Pam George

Do you have an old cell phone, computer or TV set lying around in the garage or basement? Expired medications? Left-over paint or varnish?  Wasp and bee spray? Used motor oil?
All this adds up to the grim reality that just about every home has the potential to be a hazardous waste site. Tossing them in the trash or pouring them down the drain is extremely bad for the environment. And you would need an advanced degree in science to know how to dispose of them yourself.
“If left to sit in a landfill, they can emit harmful pollutants,” says Colleen Meehan, program organizer for Clean Water Action in Philadelphia, part of the Recycling Alliance of Philadelphia.

Fortunately, there are alternatives. 

Household Hazardous Waste Drop-off events are held from 9 a.m. to 3 pm. on specific days throughout the year. An event is scheduled for Saturday, April 28, at the Philadelphia Streets Department’s training center, 8401 State Road (at Ashburner St.), 215-686-5560.

Drug Take-Back April 28

If you have medications you no longer use or that have expired, you can dispose of them safely at the Drug Enforcement Agency’s next National Prescription Drug Take-Back Day, Saturday, April 28, from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. The list of participating sites is posted on the website. Or you may call 1-800-882-9539.  If you can’t get to a site, some pharmacies sell inexpensive mailers for disposing of unwanted medications. Before throwing out a container, it’s a good idea to remove identifying information to protect your identity.
TV sets and computers can be taken to one of the city’s three Sanitation Convenience Centers:
• Southwest Philadelphia — 3033 S. 63rd St., near Passyunk Ave., 215-685-4290.
• Northwest Philadelphia, 300 block of Domino Lane, near Umbria St., 215-685-2501.
• Northeast Philadelphia, State Road and Ashburner St., 215-685-8072.
There are also places that recycle computers. Nonprofit Technology Resources at 1524 Brandywine Street (215-564-6686) refurbishes computers to serve low-income Philadelphians. The Freedom Rings Partnership (215-686-0317) also accepts used computers, which can be taken to the Mayor’s Office of Civic Engagement and Volunteer Service, room 112 in City Hall, 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. weekdays.