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Waste Management and COVID-19

Guidance for Managing Recalled Alcohol-based hand sanitizer - In July 2020, the Federal Food and Drug Administration issued a warning (leaves DEC website) about a sharp increase in hand sanitizer products (leaves DEC website) that are labeled to contain ethanol (also known as ethyl alcohol) but that have tested positive for methanol contamination. Methanol, or wood alcohol, is a substance that can be toxic when absorbed through the skin or ingested and can be life-threatening when ingested. The FDA is working with manufacturers to recall products. This guidance addresses actions that can be taken to dispose of recalled hand sanitizer.

Households - Households with recalled hand sanitizer should take advantage of any return, takeback, or exchange programs for the products that they possess. More information on recalls (leaves DEC website) can be found on the FDA website. If takeback is not available, alcohol-based hand sanitizer generated by a household can legally be disposed of with regular trash, though DEC recommend that it be taken to a local household hazardous waste (HHW) collection event or facility. Residents can check with their municipality for available HHW collection events or facilities in the area.

Businesses - Businesses are also encouraged to take advantage of any return, takeback, or exchange programs for the products that they possess. Hazardous waste regulations provide an exemption for any amount of alcohol-based hand sanitizer that is returned to the manufacturer or to a recycler that can reclaim the material. Generators are required to notify DEC as described in 6NYCRR Part 371.1(c)(7) that they are taking advantage of this exemption. If reclamation or return to the manufacturer is not available, a business that disposes more than 100 kilograms (220 pounds) of alcohol-based hand sanitizer must ensure that the waste is transported under a hazardous waste manifest to an authorized hazardous waste disposal facility. Businesses that generate less than 100 kilograms per month of all hazardous waste may self-transport up to 100 kilograms of the waste to solid waste management facilities that are authorized to receive it. Questions from businesses may be sent to info.sqg@dec.ny.gov.

DEC regulates waste streams produced by residents, businesses, and other organizations. Reuse, recycling, and other ways to reduce waste can save you money and are always preferred to disposal.

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