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5 Things that Can’t Go Into A Dumpster, and WHY

Whether you are thinking about renting a dumpster for a spring cleanup, a house cleanout, for a construction project or any other reason there are many things that can’t be disposed of in a debris dumpster. Here are 5 of the most common items along with a quick answer as to WHY they can’t go into a dumpster.

1. Gas and oil- Gas and oil (and things with gas and oil in them) are not permitted into a dumpster that is going to be dumped as debris. If you have items that have gas or oil in them that you want to dispose of, simply drain the gas and oil out and in most cases the item will be permitted in the landfill. The reason gas and oil are not permitted into our landfills is because the gas and oil gradually work their way down to the bottom of the landfill. Once it hits the liner, it seeps through the liner into the ground. Now we all know that putting gas and oil into the ground is no good because it will make its way into the underground water supply. A spill of only one gallon of oil can contaminate a million gallons of water. A single pint of oil released into a lake or wetland can cover one acre of surface water and seriously damage aquatic habitat. It is easy to see why we don’t want these products in our landfills. There are many simple and legal collection sites available to dispose of gas and oil. If you don’t know of any, contact your local Public Works department and they can surely refer you to a nearby site.

2. Paints- Paint is another common item found in almost every home and construction site. There are a couple of reasons that paint is not permitted into the dumpsters. The first reason being what happens to paint that spills into a dumpster. It tends to find its way down to the bottom of the dumpster and leave what can sometimes be a sizeable spot of wet paint inside the dumpster. Depending upon how much paint there is, it can take some time for it to dry. I’m sure you can imagine how you would feel if you ordered a dumpster and it came filled with wet paint. Now imagine how you would feel after you step in it and track it all over your house before you even realize it happened! No one wins there! The other reason paint isn’t allowed into dumpsters is because some paints are oil based and these paints will release the oil into the landfill and the above described contamination process begins. While latex paint is not hazardous, it would be too difficult and too time consuming to try and check every can of paint to see if it contains oil being brought into the landfill on a daily basis.

3. Asbestos- Asbestos is not permitted into dumpsters for some obvious reasons. It is classified as a hazardous material and should be disposed of in accordance with your local laws. Check with your local government offices for proper procedures. Landfills are particularly sensitive to asbestos within loads because the trash brought into the landfill is crushed with a giant compactor that drives over it repeatedly all day. The machine just drives up and down the pile of trash as trucks dump more and more for it to crush. Asbestos is at its most dangerous when it is friable (easily crumbled) and airborne. If a compactor machine crushes it, asbestos fibers will be released into the air and breathed in by landfill employees and drivers using the landfill. Our landfill here in Ocean County can take asbestos from homeowners, but it must be separated and follow their disposal procedures. Contact the Ocean County Landfill if you have asbestos from the county you wish to dispose of.

4. Refrigerators/Freezers/Air Conditioners- These items are not permitted into debris dumpsters because of the refrigerant they contain. The Freon inside these devices needs to be evacuated by a licensed technician prior to disposal. Freon is a chlorofluorocarbon (CFC) and CFC’s are considered to be the leading cause of global warming. They are believed to have a greater impact on our atmosphere than carbon dioxide. They impact our environment so much, they are being phased out of use to help stabilize our atmosphere. You can see by the chart below why keeping these chemicals out of our atmosphere is so important.

CFCs and HCFCs are gradually being phased out thanks to the Montreal Protocol. Current measurements of the ozone layer show overall stability and probable recovery to the previous level around 2060.

5. Propane Tanks: Propane tanks are not permitted in dumpsters for 2 reasons. The first reason is that unregulated release of propane into the atmosphere contributes to global warming. The second reason is strictly for safety. As I mentioned above, the landfill has a giant machine that drives up and down over the garbage all day trying to compact it as much as possible. Imagine what would happen if a compactor machine drover over a propane tank with pressure and flammable gas filled inside. I would not want to be there when that happened, would you? I bet you wouldn’t!!

While these 5 items are the most frequently found and asked about items, there are quite a few more that are not permitted as well. Before renting a dumpster, you should take a good look around and look at what you are getting rid of. Make a list of any items you think might be questionable and be sure to ask your dumpster company about those items before you rent the dumpster. Also ask them for a comprehensive list of non-permitted items and whether they have a link to a list of these items. For a comprehensive list of items D&D Disposal can’t take, please reference my post here on our Learning Center titled; What Can I Put in Roll Off Containers?

For a list of facilities that can help you dispose of “special waste” in the Ocean County, NJ area see our post titled; “What to do with things I CAN’T put in my dumpster”. This post can also be found on our Learning Center.

I hope this post is helpful and answers any questions you may have had. I hope your project runs smoothly and best of luck!