Let’s keep Hazardous Waste out of our Tacony Creek Park

If you’ve ever taken a walk in Tacony Creek Park or volunteered at a clean-up with us, you’ve likely seen plastic jugs of motor oil or cans of paint that someone has left in the park or at a gateway. We know that we would all keep dangerous things like these away from our children, right?  So why do we think it’s ok to leave this stuff in a park or a creek, where it can get into the water or soil?

These items are hazardous waste. We need to throw them away the correct way — which is not in our parks, creeks, or on the street or sidewalk. Everything left on land ends up in our waterways.

Every house generates waste, and some of it cannot safely be thrown into the regular trash.  Household waste can be divided into two categories: non-hazardous and hazardous waste. Non-hazardous waste are items that can recycled or placed in a trashcan, such as food scraps, yard trimmings, plastic bottles…etc.

However, hazardous waste consists of items that can harm the environment if not disposed of properly. This includes discarded motor oil, tires, and e-waste such as phones and appliances.

The Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection separates household hazardous waste into several categories.

Corrosives—these items, such as drain/ oven cleaners and rust removers, can cause burns when exposed directly to the skin. They will have labels that state, “Corrosive—avoid contact with skin or eyes.”

Flammables include substances such as motor oil, gasoline, and oil-based paint thinners. These substances can catch fire or potentially explode. Items with labels that state, “Flammable—keep away from flames.” Used motor oil can be properly disposed of at auto businesses such as Jiffy Lube or Pep Boys.

Toxic materials: Such as pesticides and other poisons (rat or insect). These items will have labels that state “Danger/poison” or “Warning-Keep out of reach of children” printed on the label.

Oxidizers: Chemicals and peroxides, such as pool chemicals, react strongly with other compounds and can result in fire or explosions. These items will have labels that state “Warning- strong oxidizer” printed on them.

These items should not be thrown away with regular trash for collection and should be disposed of separately.

Philadelphia holds seasonal hazardous waste collection events throughout the city. These events are open to Philadelphia residents and residents of Bucks, Chester, Delaware, and Montgomery County. If you miss your local hazardous waste collection event, you can find alternate options for recycling your hazardous waste using the city’s recycling and donation finder tool. This tool identifies businesses within a five-mile radius to which you can take your waste, as well as the services they offer and the materials they accept.

The city collection events accept hazardous waste, from acids to transmission fluids. However, some items like computers aren’t accepted at these events.

For items that aren’t accepted at a city collection event, you can see if your local elected official is having an e-waste disposal event or visit a local sanitation convenience center during regular business hours. Tires can be taken to a sanitation convenience center. However, drop offs are limited to four times per day.

If you see a large number of tires dumped in your neighborhood, please report it to Philly311! In Tacony Creek Park, contact us too! If you see anyone dumping in and around Tacony Creek Park, please take a photo (safely) and call 911. You can also email us: info@ttfwatershed.org.

Join us at cleanup or a TCPKeepers (the park friends group) meeting soon to find solutions to keep our parks safe and clean.

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