Hard-to-Handle Products

Homes and businesses are filled with ordinary items and materials that require extraordinary disposal handling and recycling methods, largely due to their chemical composition.

Think paint, automotive products, swimming pool chemicals, household cleaners, flammable and combustible items, garden chemicals, batteries, consumer electronics and items containing mercury, such as fluorescent lamps, to name a few – all items that should not be placed into regular solid waste bins. We’ve developed several programs to help our residential and business customers dispose of these materials properly.

“Many of our residents asked for a doorstep option. It feels good on our end (the city) to have a solution. People love the convenience and simplicity of the program.” – Anna Luke-Jones, Public Works Senior Management Analyst, City of Manhattan Beach, California

Waste Management’s At Your Door Special CollectionSM service provides easy and convenient collection of home-generated special materials for single and multi-unit homes in several states where logistics and customer preference support the service. As part of our home collection service, each participating household receives a collection kit with a containment bag, instruction sheet and customer service survey card, which 93 percent of customers have used to rate our service “excellent” or “very good.” In addition to at-home collection services, we also collect fluorescent lamps, batteries, sharps and non-controlled pharmaceuticals through containers placed at public locations, such as libraries, municipal buildings, pharmacies and community centers. Residents can simply place items in the collection containers, which are managed by our special collections team.

On average we collected over 100 pounds of materials from each participating household in 2015. Consumer electronics represented over 40 percent of these collections, with nonhazardous materials, such as latex paint, representing another third. Hazardous materials and universal items, such as batteries, made up the remainder. In total, we sent 86 percent of all materials to producers for recycling.

For commercial customers, we offer our Tracker service, which enables businesses to dispose of universal and special wastes through a simple, safe and compliant mail-back method. Our comprehensive program includes recycling kits for fluorescent lamps and bulbs, lighting ballasts, batteries, electronics, aerosol cans, thermometers, thermostats and dental amalgam, as well as safe disposal kits for sharps, medical waste and prescription and over-the-counter drugs. Containers, such as the patented Mercury VaporLok® packaging for fluorescent lamps, are specifically designed for safe storage and shipping via national carriers. Customers can obtain kits through our website and receive certificates that provide proof of recycling compliance via email.


Electronic waste material – such as old or broken computers, printers, copiers, etc. – is a topic of significant environmental concern and remains the fastest-growing waste segment in North America, with more than 2 million tons generated annually in the U.S. alone.

Waste Management delivers electronic recycling solutions that are convenient to use, cost-effective and consistent with environmental responsibility. Supported by a comprehensive network of third-party processing centers certified and independently audited to the highest standards across the U.S. and Canada, our eCycling services can meet an organization’s specific needs, with secure transport options from any point in the U.S. or Canada.

All processing partner locations are audited to meet e-Steward®, R2®/RIOS certification standards and are obliged to:

  • Prevent hazardous e-waste from entering municipal incinerators or landfills.
  • Prevent the exportation of e-waste to developing countries.
  • Provide for visible tracking of e-waste throughout the product recycling chain.

Products can be refurbished and resold for value or managed at the end of their useful life for commodity recovery. Commodities such as gold, silver, copper, plastics and more are recovered while by-products such as mercury, lead, barium and cadmium, the inherently hazardous by-products of electronics, are carefully managed. Waste Management satisfies customer compliance with consumer take-back programs in the 25 states mandating these eCycling programs, and can provide the same comprehensive management in non-legislated states as well.

Hard to Handle, Easy to Collect

In 2015, At Your Door Special Collection® made it easy for residential customers to responsibly dispose of these hard-to-handle products.

54,889 ft.

Fluorescent tubes
equals the length of
152 football fields

33,453 lbs.

Lead acid batteries

120,765 gals.


39,967 lbs.

Aerosol cans

17,906 gals.

Flammable liquids

The Carbon Blocker Fly ash treatment system, installed directly at the plant, can convert fly ash with increased carbon levels into a cement replacement in concrete.

Coal Ash Recycling

Air pollution regulations require particulates such as fly ash to be captured rather than emitted. The methods used to capture fly ash lead to increased carbon levels in fly ash, a by-product that is reused as a cement replacement in concrete production. Power plants use activated carbon injection (ACI) systems to remove mercury from flue gases, which is then recaptured in the electrostatic precipitators or bag houses. This process prevents mercury from escaping the smokestack into the atmosphere, but the resulting fly ash contains elevated carbon levels that negatively affect the durability of concrete. Our patented Carbon Blocker fly ash treatment system is widely used by utilities to improve the quality of fly ash, making it suitable for recycling in concrete product applications.

With more ACI systems in use today, fly ash recycling is a growing business for us. Since we acquired this proprietary technology in 2012, revenues have quadrupled, and in 2015 we beneficially utilized 1,062,203 tons of fly ash.

2015 Coal Ash Recycling


MtCO2e Emissions Avoided

The Carbon Blocker Fly ash treatment system, installed directly at the plant, can convert fly ash with increased carbon levels into a cement replacement in concrete.

In 2015, we reclaimed

54,484 lbs.

of mercury and

208,711 lbs.

of phosphor powder containing
rare earth minerals

New Uses for an Old Hazard

Fluorescent Lightbulbs Waste Management offers consumer mail and pickup programs for household fluorescent lighting from commercial and industrial businesses. The lamps are delivered to Waste Management lamp recycling facilities in South Carolina and Arizona. The phosphor powder from the lamps is sent to Waste Management Mercury Waste in Wisconsin, where the mercury and rare earths are recovered and can be recycled into new products. Our mercury waste protocol includes extensive safety procedures, an entirely automated continuous flow process and a stationary system to achieve mercury and elemental recovery to the highest standards for the environment.