Frequently Asked Questions

HHW Frequently Asked Questions

If you don't find the answer to your question on our website, please contact Emma Rearick at (603) 417-6570.

Click here for detailed information about collection sites and click here for a printable 2024 HHW schedule.

General FAQ

Why do I have to pay?
The Nashua Region Solid Waste Management District (NRSWMD) spends roughly $95 per household on disposal costs alone for each HHW event. The District is funded through annual dues from its 11 member communities and grant money from the NH Dept. of Environmental Services. However, the safe disposal of HHW is expensive, these sources do not cover all of the program costs, and grant funding to subsidize the program is never guaranteed. We ask participants to help offset the program costs with a $15 user fee and we sincerely appreciate your support and participation.
What is household hazardous waste?
Household Hazardous Waste (HHW) comes from everyday products used in the home, yard, or garden. When you see the words "caution," "poison," "warning," or "danger" on a product label, you are dealing with a potentially hazardous material that cannot be disposed of as regular waste. Oil-based paints, solvents, auto products, antifreeze, pesticides, gas, and household cleaners are just a few examples.  

You do not need to bring empty bottles/cans/containers. If the container is truly empty, it is not considered hazardous waste. You can dispose of it with regular household trash. Propane tanks should not be placed in household trash because they are still pressurized and can be potentially dangerous if not disposed of properly.

Read our handy guide: What makes household hazardous waste Hazardous?
Why can't I just put it in the trash?
Household Hazardous Waste needs to be handled separately from regular waste because it can harm human health or the environment if not managed properly. Dumping hazardous waste (including down the toilet, drain, or storm sewer) can damage sewer treatment plants or private septic systems. Waste may flow directly into streams and ponds, which can contaminate drinking water. Hazardous waste put into the solid waste stream with regular trash can ignite and explode, damaging collection trucks and harming solid waste employees.

State and federal laws prohibit the disposal of hazardous waste in municipal landfills and regulate the transport of hazardous wastes when they occur in large quantities or are industrially produced.

It can be very expensive to safely dispose of HHW, so few municipalities have the facilities, training, or funding to host their own collections or to process materials on site. By working together through the District, municipalities are better able to afford to offer collection events.
How much waste can I bring?
The fee of $15 pays for up to 10 gallons (liquids like oil-based paint or gasoline) or 20 pounds (solids like bagged fertilizer or pool chemicals). There are additional fees for amounts above 10 gallons and/or over 20 pounds of hazardous waste.
Containers larger than 5 gallons, such as 55-gallon drums, require special handling and need to be pre-registered by calling (603) 417-6570.
How should I package my waste to bring to an event?
Keep the waste in original containers with original labels, if possible. Make sure that caps and lids are secure, and place any items at risk of spilling in an upright plastic bin or storage tote. Since many chemicals have noxious odors, keep them in the trunk or rear of the vehicle. Do not store materials in a very hot or very cold vehicle or in direct sunlight. Do not smoke at the event.

If you have a container larger than 5 gallons, such as a 55-gallon drum, these require special handling and need to be pre-registered by calling (603) 417-6570.

Empty containers will not be returned. However, you may pick up a container from the swap table.

ideal trunk
Can I bring waste from my business?
The short answer is maybe.

Small quantity business generators are eligible to participate in the Nashua Region Household Hazardous Waste program. Please read the following carefully to determine if your business is eligible.

Is my business a Small Quantity Generator?
Your business is a small quantity generator (SQG) if it generates in each and every calendar month:

  • Less than 100 kilograms or 220 pounds of non-acute hazardous waste;
  • Less than 1 kilogram or 2.2 pounds of an acutely hazardous waste; or
  • Less than 100 kilograms or 220 pounds of any residue or contaminated soil, waste, or other debris resulting from the cleanup of a spill of any acutely hazardous waste.
If you have questions about whether your business is a SQG, please contact NH Dept. of Environmental Services Small Quantity Generator Program. If your business qualifies as a small quantity generator, please read this fact sheet about participating in a household hazardous waste collection event. 

What will it cost to participate?
Businesses participating in the Household Hazardous Waste program will be charged directly by the hazardous waste vendor. Costs are based on the type and quantity of waste you are disposing of. The Nashua Regional Planning Commission does not set pricing for business participants.

How do I register to attend an event?
SQG business participants must pre-register at least 2 weeks prior to the event by contacting Emma Rearick (603-417-6570). This will allow time for you to obtain the proper paperwork and information needed to participate.  If you arrive at a collection event without pre-registering you will not be able to participate.
Can I bring my neighbor's waste?
Yes! We encourage carpooling. The fee is determined by the amount of waste, not the number of households. If you and your neighbor collectively bring less than 10 gallons or 20 pounds of waste and you carpool in one vehicle, you will only be charged $15. We survey all participants at events to capture the total number of households.
How can I find items that are not hazardous?
Consider reducing your purchase of products that contain hazardous ingredients. Learn about the use of alternative methods or products—without hazardous ingredients—for some common household needs. When shopping for items such as multipurpose household cleaners, toilet cleaners, laundry detergent, dish soap, dishwashing machine pods and gels, bug sprays and insect pest control, consider shopping for environmentally friendly, natural products or search online for simple recipes you can use to create your own.

We have compiled a list of some earth friendly alternatives here

In addition, the EPA has created the Safer Choice label - to to help you find products made with ingredients that are safer for our families, pets, workplaces, and the environment. Learn more on the Safer Choice website.
epa safer choice
What if I live in a town that isn't on the list?
If you do not live in one of our 11 member communities (Amherst, Brookline, Hollis, Hudson, Litchfield, Merrimack, Milford, Mont Vernon, Nashua, Pelham, and Windham) you should check with your town to see if they offer a household hazardous waste collection event. If your town or region doesn't have a collection event,  feel free to reach out to us or NH Department of Environmental Services for assistance.
Can I bring my kids and pets?
Because we love kids and pets, we ask that you please leave them at home if you can. Hazardous wastes are not kid- and pet-friendly.

Is My Item Household Hazardous Waste?

Accepted Items

Please pack your materials carefully and keep in their original containers, if possible!  Do not mix different chemicals together.  Make sure containers are not leaking.

  • Adhesives -- glue, caulk, solvent-based cement and silicone 
  • Aerosols -- spray paint, oven cleaner
  • Antifreeze -- antifreeze is a universal waste and some transfer stations accept antifreeze from their residents. Please check the Universal Waste Guide to determine if you can recycle antifreeze at your local transfer station instead of bringing it to a HHW collection.
  • Automotive Products -- brake and transmission fluids, car wax. Read our guide on DIY Automotive Products for alternatives. 
  • Cleaning Solutions -- ammonia, bleach, all-purpose cleaners, metal polishes, oven cleaner, drain cleaners
  • Compact Fluorescent Lights (CFLs) -- Contact your local transfer station to determine if you can recycle bulbs there instead of bringing them to a HHW collection. Many local retailers also offer recycling. Read our Compact Fluorescent Light Disposal Guide here.
  • Creosote -- liquid only; NO wood or other materials covered in creosote 
  • Driveway Sealer
  • Fluorescent Tubes & Bulbs -- Fluorescent bulbs are universal waste and some transfer stations accept these items from their residents. 
    • Residents - For fewer than 20 bulbs, please the Universal Waste Guide to determine if you can recycle them at your local transfer station. Many local businesses also take bulbs for recycling. Or, you may bring them to an HHW collection for a minimum $15 fee.
    • Residents - For quantities of more than 20 bulbs, please contact us for pricing.
    • Businesses - Please contact us for pricing.
  • Fuels -- gasoline, kerosene, camping fuel, butane, lamp oil, used cooking oil
  • Household Batteries -- we do NOT accept automotive batteries.  Read our Battery Disposal Guide to learn which batteries are accepted and how to dispose of them. Please check the Universal Waste Guide to determine if you can recycle certain batteries at your local transfer station. 
  • Lead Fishing Tackle -- NH law prohibits the use of lead sinkers and jigs with a total weight of one ounce or less in all fresh water. Common Loons and other waterbirds can die from lead poisoning after accidentally ingesting lead sinkers and jigs. Read here to determine if your fishing tackle contains lead
  • Mercury Containing Devices -- thermostats, thermometers, switches.  Please check the Universal Waste Guide to determine if you can recycle mercury devices at your local transfer station instead of bringing them to a HHW collection.  Click here for instructions for cleaning up a small mercury spill.
  • Oil-based Paint & Other Finishes -- stains, lacquer, shellac, urethane, varnish, wood preservatives.  We do NOT accept latex paint. 
  • Pesticides & Other Garden Chemicals -- fertilizer, weed killer, rodent killers. Read our Fertilizer & Pesticide Guide for environmentally sound alternatives. 
  • Photo Chemicals -- photo fix, developer
  • Pool Chemicals 
  • Road Flares
  • Solvents & Thinners -- paint thinner, acetone, brush cleaner, mineral spirits, strippers

Universal Waste Flyer 2024
Items We Don't Take
What do I do with it? A guide for items not accepted at HHW collections

  • Asbestos -- Nashua residents can bring asbestos to the Four Hills Landfill.  All other residents should work with a licensed asbestos abatement contractor. Find licensed contractors and learn more from the NH Department of Environmental Services Asbestos Management webpage.
  • Automotive Batteries -- Many municipalities accept auto batteries from their residents at their transfer stations or landfills. Auto batteries can also be recycled at a participating store.
  • Carbon Monoxide Detectors -- Most carbon monoxide detectors do not contain radioactive material and can be put in the trash after removing the battery.
  • Electronics -- Please contact your local transfer station or landfill for information about how to recycle TVs, computers, monitors, tablets and other consumer electronics in your municipality. Also many non-profit organizations hold collection events. 
  • Explosives & Shock Sensitive Materials -- Call 911 immediately if you realize that you have explosive chemicals in your home. Do not attempt to move or transport them.  They can blow up simply from being handled.
  • Fire Extinguishers -- Return to Impact Fire, 26 Hampshire Drive, Hudson, NH 03051, M-F 8am to 4pm. Phone: 603-293-7531.
  • Freon Appliances -- air conditioners, refrigerators, freezers, dehumidifiers, etc. Check with your local transfer station or landfill as many of them will take Freon appliances, either for free or a small fee. And NHSaves hosts turn-in events around the state, seasonally.
  • Ionizing Smoke Detectors -- Ionizing smoke detectors contain radioactive material and must be returned to the manufacturer. Smoke Detector Manufacturer Mailing List
  • Latex/acrylic Paint -- Latex/acrylic paint is not accepted at the Household Hazardous Waste Collections. It can be safely disposed of in household trash if it is completely dry. Read more about Latex/acrylic Paint Disposal.
  • Marine Flares -- Marine flares are classified as an explosive. Contact your local police or fire department.
  • Medications -- Do NOT flush medications!  Many pharmacies provide drop boxes to dispose of unwanted prescription medications. The Drug Enforcement Administration also periodically sponsors medication collections. If you cannot participate in a collection or use a drop box, place medications in your household trash following these guidelines by NH DES.
  • Propane Tanks & Compressed Gas Cylinders -- Many municipalities accept propane tanks from residents at their transfer stations or landfills. Check with your local municipality to see if there are any restrictions on the size of propane tanks that are accepted.
  • Radioactive Compounds -- Consult the manufacturer.
  • Sharps & Other Medical Waste -- Needles, syringes, finger sticks, lacets, epi-pens, etc. may be brought to St. Joseph's Hospital in Nashua (172 Kinsley St, 603-882-3000) or to Southern NH Medical Center in Nashua (8 Prospect St, 603-577-2000). If you do not own an official sharps container or sharps clippers, place sharps in a puncture-proof liquid laundry detergent bottle or fabric softener bottle. Containers must be taped shut and marked "used sharps." Disposal Tips for Household Generated Sharps
  • Universal Waste -- Universal waste is hazardous but so common that there are less expensive ways to dispose of it than through hazardous waste collection. Universal waste includes antifreeze, mercury, fluorescent bulbs, CRT monitors, and batteries. Check with your municipality to see if they accept these items before bringing them to an event.
  • Used Oil -- As long as the oil is not mixed with anything else, you may be able to bring it to your local transfer station  - call your municipality to inquire or search here for a participating store.
  • Wood or Other Materials Covered in Creosote -- Contact your local landfill or transfer station.