Waste Management and Recycling

How to Handle Waste

New York State mandates that solid waste be handled in the following manner: reduce, reuse, recycle, landfill and, lastly, waste to energy. The following page summarizes local solid waste contacts, facilities, and programs offered in Western New York.

To find out what your municipality is recycling or for information on items that cannot be put in your recycling container, visit the Recycling Information page.

To find out more about home composting, visit our Home Composting webpage.

If you have any questions or comments on solid waste management, please call the Department of Environment and Planning at (716) 858-6800. See below for ways to handle common household items.

Cellular Phones

  • It’s not a question of whether to recycle your old cell phone, but rather how. You help the environment by properly recycling your phone because cell phones contain a number of hazardous substances that can seriously impact the environment. A good source to review these options is through the Earth 911 website.
  • There are a number of organizations that collect cell phones to raise money. For example, the Buffalo Zoo works with Eco-Cell who pays up to $10 per digital phone. They, in turn ensure that most of these cell phones and their accessories will be reused or properly recycled. To find out more about this program, go to the Buffalo Zoo Eco-cell webpage. 

Clothing and Textiles

Take a look at what happens to unwearable textiles when they are recycled.

Lifecycle of Rags from www.smartasn.org
Click image to enlarge. Source: SMART: Secondary Materials And Recycled Textiles

Did you know Erie County is part of the WNY Coalition for Donated Goods?

For more information contact Gary Carrel at (716) 858-4805 or gary.carrel@erie.gov

Compact Fluorescent Light Bulbs (CFL)

Computer/Electronics Recycling

Household Hazardous Waste (HHW)

Erie County Recycling Logo

Hazardous household materials are common products used around the home almost everyday. A substance is considered hazardous if it ignites easily, reacts or explodes when mixed with other substances, is corrosive or toxic. Check for labels that bear the words "poison", "toxic", "warning", "danger", "combustible", "flammable", "corrosive", or "caution."

Hazardous household materials could pose an unnecessary health and safety risk. Unwanted materials should be disposed in an environmentally sound manner. In order to provide residents with the opportunity to dispose unused hazardous household materials, Erie County provides multiple Household Hazardous Waste Collection Days each Spring. For information about the next event, please call (716) 858-6800 or see below:

Acceptable Materials for drop-off include:

  • Up to 10 gallons of waste automotive fluids such as: motor oils, gasoline, antifreeze, brake & transmission fluids;
  • Up to 10 gallons of oil-based paints, paint strippers and thinners, spray paints, kerosene & other solvents;
  • Rechargeable Batteries: nickel cadmium, nickel metal-hydride, lead-acid (auto/truck/boat/motorcycle/tractor), lithium, lithium-ion, and button (watch/calculator) batteries. For year-round battery disposal information, visit Call2Recycle.org;
  • Up to 2 gallons or 20 pounds of pesticides, fertilizers and pool chemicals;
  • Mercury and any Mercury containing devices such as thermometers or thermostats.

Unacceptable Materials:

  • Latex paint (water-based). To dispose of latex paint, remove the canister's lid, add kitty litter or saw dust, let it dry and place in the trash. Make sure the lid is off so the sanitation worker can see that it is empty;
  • Alkaline Batteries. These are safe to dispose of in your trash. More information on batteries is available through the Earth 911 website.
  • Photo Chemicals - For information on disposal of photo chemicals contact Kodak at 1-800-242-2424;
  • Medical Waste/ Medications;
  • Explosives, Ammunition and Gun Powder - contact your local police department;
  • Smoke Detectors (radioactive materials) - for information call First Alert at 1-800-323-9005;
  • Cooking oils - call Darling International at (716) 895-0655 for disposal of cooking oils;
  • Tires - should be disposed of at any retail tire dealer (a nominal disposal fee may apply);
  • Cylinders of compressed gases, such as (but not limited to): - oxygen, acetylene, helium, carbon dioxide, freons, other refrigerant gases, etc.;
  • Fluorescent light bulbs or ballasts.

In addition, Commercial, Business or Farm Waste is not accepted. Erie County's hazardous waste disposal program for Conditionally Exempt Small Quantity Generators may be a suitable option to dispose of these materials.

Pharmaceutical Waste

Recent news about the detection of prescription drugs in drinking water has caused concern about the impact on human health. Also, storing expired and unwanted medications in your home increases the risk of accidental poinsioning. Help protect our water and your safety by disposing of medicines properly through collection and incineration.