Banned From The Garbage

The following items are Banned from the Garbage here on the campus of the University of St. Thomas, also in the State of Minnesota, and in the majority of the United States. These items are kept out of our garbage and landfills to protect our health and environment. In some cases the items can be recycled if taken to the proper processor; in other cases the items must be safely disposed of by licensed contractors. Where possible, explanations are given as well as links to other sites with more information. Another listing of common household hazardous waste is available at the Minnesota Office of Environmental Assistance (MOEA) web site. A more extensive information source for hazardous and toxic materials can be found at Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry (ATSDR), an agency of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services


See Automotive Fluids


This includes air conditioners, clothes washers & dryers, dehumidifiers, dishwashers, freezers, furnaces, garbage disposals, heat pumps, water heaters, microwave ovens, refrigerators, stoves, and trash compactors are all prohibited from disposal as garbage at solid waste facilities. They may contain mercury, PCBs (polychlorinated biphenyls), CFCs (chloroflurocarbons), fluorescents, hazardous batteries, oils, and other materials harmful to health and the environment. They can be picked up by an appliance recycler, or taken to a processing center where hazardous components are removed and the scrap metal is recycled. MPCA Fact Sheet

Automotive Fluids, Filters & Sorbents

Antifreeze: MN Statutes §115A.916 prohibits antifreeze from being placed on land or with solid waste. Improper disposal harms vegetation and pollutes water supplies. Never place antifreeze in a septic system or storm drain.

Oil: MN Statutes §115A.916 prohibits pouring motor oil on the ground, in the sewer system, in with trash or solid waste, or pouring it on roads for dust suppression (MN § 7045.0845). Improper disposal harms vegetation, pollutes water supplies, and poses a fire hazard. The prohibition also includes used oil filters. State law requires anyone who sells motor oil to either accept used oil or post the nearest location for used oil drop-off.

Other automotive fluids: MN Statutes §115A.916 prohibits the disposal of brake fluid, power steering fluid, and other automotive lubricants on land, in the sewer system, or with solid waste.

Sorbents, towels & wipes: sorbents cannot be put in the trash without evaluation for hazardous waste characteristics. MPCA Fact Sheet


Click here for facts about batteries

Alkaline batteries with no added mercury are non-hazardous and may be disposed of with regular garbage.

Carbon Zinc with no added mercury are non-hazardous and may be disposed of with regular garbage.

Nickel-cadmium (labeled Ni-Cd): must be managed as hazardous waste unless managed under the Universal Hazardous Waste Rules. Commonly used in power tools, cordless phones, radios, they may be recycled free using Call2Recycle which can identify the nearest recycling location by zip code!

Mercury Oxide, Silver Oxide: Federal Universal Waste Rules 40CFR 273 and MN Statutes §115A.915 prohibit the disposal of these batteries in landfills or regular garbage. Silver and mercury are hazardous heavy metals and pollute water supplies and harm health.

Lead Acid (wet cell): or automobile batteries are very hazardous and cannot be disposed in regular garbage or landfills. Both the lead and the sulfuric acid contained in the batteries are destructive to life and harmful to health. MN Statutes §325E.1151 requires any person who sells lead acid batteries to accept up to five lead acid batteries from a consumer at no charge. MPCA Fact Sheet

Lithium (labeled Li or CR): any lithium batteries which has not been fully discharged or larger than 9 volts is considered a hazardous waste. Discharging lithium batteries may render them non-hazardous and able to be disposed of through regular garbage.

Lithium ion batteries are recyclable but have strict regulations when being shipped to a recycling processor. The US DOT enacted new regulations in 2008 that apply to shipments containing Lithium ion batteries. Whenever possible, Lithium ion batteries should be sorted from other rechargeable batteries. A shipment container of Lithium ion batteries for recycling must adhere to the following requirements, in addition to the safety requirements listed on the opposite side:

  • Each individual rechargeable battery, or cell phone with battery, must be placed into a separate bag (or terminals taped) to ensure safe storage and shipping;
  • Package must be marked “CONTAINS LITHIUM ION BATTERIES – FORBIDDEN FOR TRANSPORT ABOARD AIRCRAFT AND VESSEL.” Lettering must be at least 0.25 inches in height;
  • Shipping document must indicate package contains lithium batteries and package must be quarantined, inspected and repackaged if damaged; and
  • Package may not exceed 30 kg (66 pounds)

Lithium ion batteries are commonly used used in laptop computers, cellular phones, camcorders and other electronic devices, they may be recycled with Call2Recycle for the cost of shipping.

Nickel Metal Hydride batteries are non-hazardous, recyclable and rechargeable. They may be disposed of in regular garbage. Commonly used used in laptop computers, cellular phones, camcorders and other electronic devices, they may be recycled with Call2Recycle for the cost of shipping.

Sealed Lead Acid (labeled SLA): classified as universal waste, recyclable and rechargeable. Commonly used used in emergency power and camcorders, they may be recycled with the Call2Recycle for the cost of shipping.

Car batteries

See Batteries: Lead Acid

Cell Phones

See Electronics


See Electronics


This includes computers, monitors, televisions, cell phones, facsimile machines, video equipment, telephones and telecommunications equipment, cordless rechargeable appliances, and audio equipment. Electronic parts such as ballasts, cathode ray tubes, printed wire boards, switches, relay sensors, capacitors, transformers are hazardous waste because they may contain hazardous substances such as lead, mercury, cadmium and polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs).

An increasing number of PC manufacturers offer recycling programs for computers. Companies offering free take backs include Apple, Dell, Samsung, and Sony. Other companies offer rebates or limited take-back programs. For details of how to recycle electronics and different programs that are available, check with the Electronics TakeBack Coalition to locate a responsible electronic recycler in your area.
Facts about electronics. MPCA Fact Sheet


Strict federal, state and local laws regulate the possession and handling of all explosives. Obviously, they may not be put in any landfills. Call the local Police Department or Fire Department for questions about proper disposal of any explosive material. Nationally, you may call the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) hotline at 1-800-438-2474. MN Statute §299F.19 defines explosives as any chemical compound, mixture or device, the purpose of which is to function by explosion with substantially instantaneous release of gas and heat; this includes all material which is classified as class A, class B, and class C explosives by the United States Department of Transportation, and includes, but is not limited to dynamite, black powder, pellet powder, initiating explosives, blasting caps, electric blasting caps, safety fuse, fuse lighters, fuse igniters, squibs, cordeau detonate fuse, instantaneous fuse, igniter cord, igniters, and some special fireworks.

Flammables & Gasoline

Typically, gasoline contains more than 150 chemicals, including small amounts of benzene, toluene, automotive gasolineylene, and sometimes lead. Breathing gasoline for short periods or swallowing gasoline may cause harm to the nervous system. One of the greatest hazards to a landfill is the introduction of flammables because of the danger to safety, environment, and health. MPCA Fact Sheet

Grass Clippings

See Lawn and Garden Waste

Lamps & Ballasts

This includes fluorescent lamps, high-intensity discharge lamps, compact fluorescents, sodium & metal halide lamps are banned from solid waste disposal by MN Statutes §115A.932. They contain mercury which is harmful to health. Ballasts from fluorescent fixtures are also hazardous because they may contain polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs). Facts about fluorescents.

Lawn & Garden Waste

This includes grass and tree clippings, leaves, shrubs, garden waste are prohibited from being disposed of as garbage by MN Statutes §115A.916. During summer months, 20-30 percent of residential wastes consist of grass clippings. Not only does this greatly increase the cost of waste disposal, but also packs landfills with valuable organic materials that are 100 percent recyclable. There are good ways to manage grass clippings including mulching and composting. Ramsey County has 7 free drop off sites for county residents. More information at Ramsey County Brush, Compost & Yard Waste.


Lead is an elemental heavy metal which does not break down in the environment. Lead can affect almost every organ and system in the body but is especially damaging to the nervous system, kidneys, and reproductive system. Exposure to lead is very dangerous to unborn and young children causing premature births, decreased mental ability in the infant, learning difficulties, and reduced growth in young children. MPCA fact sheet.


Mercury is a highly toxic metal and banned from solid waste disposal by MN Statutes §115A.932 and §116.92. Common mercury containing waste includes thermometers, thermostats, turf pesticides, auto hood & trunk light switches, dental amalgam, fluorescent lamps. (See Lamps)


See Automotive Fluids


Paint as well as inks contains solvents and metals that are poisonous to humans and the environment. Both latex and oil-based paints are considered hazardous waste and should not be disposed of in the trash. MPCA fact sheet (PDF).


Pesticides are poison and while the toxicity may vary greatly, they are all designed to kill plants and animals, and exposure to pesticides may result in acute health effects in humans and "non-pest" plants and animals. Only use pesticides as a last resort and then dispose of unused pesticides at a hazardous waste collection site so it can be incinerated. MPCA fact sheet (PDF).

Phone Books

Phone books may not be placed in the trash under MN Statute §115A.951. This law also requires publishers or distributors of phone books with more than 7,500 listings to provide for the collection and delivery to a recycler. Phone book distributors must inform people who receive phone books about how and where to recycle. Facts about phone books.

Railroad Ties

Railroad ties are usually treated with creosote. Coal tar creosote is soluble in water and can easily move into ground water. It is the most widely used wood preservative in the U.S. The EPA has determined creosote is a probable human carcinogen. MPCA fact sheet (PDF).


Sharps are legal to throw in the trash, but the MPCA encourages proper disposal to protect recycling and sanitation workers from injury and infectious diseases.


Solvents such as polish removers, spot removers, glue solvents, solvent cleaners usually contain mineral spirits, Stoddard, naphtha or other petroleum based chemicals that are often harmful to health and/or flammable. They may disposed of at some hazardous waste collection sites. The Minnesota Technical Assistance Program (MnTAP) is a good resource for information about disposal of larger quantities of solvents.


See Electronics


See Electronics


Tires are banned from landfill disposal by MN Statutes §115A.904. Tires provide breeding grounds for disease-carrying mosquitoes and are a potential fire hazard. MPCA fact sheet (PDF).

Wood Waste Including Tree Waste

See Lawn and Garden and/or Railroad ties