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10 Items You Shouldn’t Toss into Your Dumpster

items you shouldn't dump in a dumpster

When you’re tackling a spring clean-up for your business, the amount of unwanted trash you accumulate can surprise you. Regular trash and waste removal can make it difficult to get rid of your waste, with limits on the number of bags and oversized items you can put out each week.

Roll-off dumpsters are perfect for situations where you’re accumulating a lot of trash all at once. Delivered right into your driveway or in front of your home, you can easily dispose of everything without worrying about the limitations imposed by your usual trash service. But, as tempting as it may be to think “everything goes!” when you’re looking at that huge, empty bin, you should be aware of certain household items that you can’t dump into your dumpster.

Businesses also need to be aware of the types of waste that they can’t put in a dumpster! It’s becoming more and more important for all businesses, regardless of size, to be environmentally aware and responsible. 

Let’s go over what you can’t put in the dumpster, so you can ensure you’re being responsible with your waste.

What You Shouldn’t Put In Your Dumpster

Several types of materials should not go into a dumpster and require alternative disposal methods. 

1. Electronics

You shouldn’t put electronics in the regular trash. That means you cannot throw away a tv in the dumpster, nor can you dispose of computers, monitors, DVD players or game consoles this way.

While working electronics are designed to keep users safe from the materials within, they tend to break apart when you throw them in the garbage and they travel to a landfill. This can cause the components within to leak out, break apart and become hazardous material. Even smaller electronics, such as flashlights, clocks and mp3 players, contain chemicals and other materials that become dangerous in a landfill. 

2. Appliances

Appliances like microwaves, refrigerators, and toaster ovens contain electronic components that become hazardous when not disposed of properly. Appliances often have batteries, screens and other electronic materials and chemicals in them that should not be put in a dumpster. 

3. Paints and Solvents

Don’t throw oil-based paint, lead-based paint, paint thinner and other similar products in with the regular garbage. These products can leak into the ground and contaminate groundwater and septic tanks. They also can cause a physical injury if they get onto a sanitation worker. Never throw wet paint into the garbage.

4. Pesticides

Pesticide should be thrown in the dumpster, regardless of whether it’s a chemical, granule, liquid or spray. Pesticides can harm plants, wildlife and even people if you dispose of them incorrectly. Do not throw away pesticides in the garbage or dump them in a sink, toilet or sewer drain. Pesticides often require chemical waste services, such as chemical recycling or specialized disposal techniques.

5. Oil and Gas

Oil and gas products like motor oil, lubricants, gasoline and petroleum can not be put in a dumpster. These products are toxic, corrosive and flammable and need to stay separate from your other garbage. Dumping gasoline is illegal almost everywhere. 

6. Yard Waste

You also shouldn’t throw your yard waste, like grass, leaves and branches, into the dumpster. While throwing away yard waste may seem like a victimless crime, yard waste takes up valuable space in the landfill, and these materials can be put to better use as compost.

7. Recyclables

Please do not throw any recyclables into a dumpster! Check with your local recycling plant to learn about what you are allowed to recycle. Typically you can recycle cardboard, glass, newspaper and plastic. Many recyclables can take years to decompose in a landfill, and there’s no reason to fill up the landfill with these materials. You can also contact specialized recycling management companies to recycle items that aren’t included in your town’s regular recycling services.

8. Light Bulbs

Some types of light bulbs should not be disposed of in a dumpster. Fluorescent and compact fluorescent lightbulbs contain small amounts of mercury and so you must dispose of them separately from regular trash. If they end up in a landfill, they will contaminate the soil and water. 

9. Batteries

Batteries, including car batteries, alkaline batteries, lithium batteries and rechargeable batteries, should not go in a dumpster. Batteries contain all sorts of chemicals that become hazardous in a landfill. Every type of battery can leak toxic substances into the soil and water, and sometimes they can even start fires. 

10. Tires

You can’t place old tires in a dumpster or a recycling bin as they always require special handling. While old tires can often be recycled into other materials, you can’t put them out with your normal recyclables.

So How Do I Properly Dispose of These Items?

If you have some of the items listed above, you’ll need to do some research on how to dispose of them in your local area. Here are some helpful guidelines about disposing items you shouldn’t put in a dumpster.

recycling discount coupons

Electronics and Appliances

Some retailers, such as BestBuy, offer coupons or discounts on replacement items when you bring these items back to the store for proper recycling.

Check with your local government’s disposal facilities – municipal sites may accept these items at certain times of the year for approved disposal.


Check your local authorities for places to dispose of old oil-based paints.

You may be able to throw away small amounts of non-oil-based paint as long as you dry it out first. If you have just a little bit of paint left after a project, dry it out with paper towels or cat litter or let it sit in the sun to harden. 

If your business has large amounts of industrial paint waste, VLS Environmental Solutions offers paint waste disposal services.

Oil, Gas and Pesticides

Many municipalities have drop-off programs for these types of waste. Contact your municipality for upcoming events. 

Check EPA.gov for more information on disposing of pesticides.

If you are a business with large amounts of waste oil, gas or other toxic substance – VLS Environmental Solutions can help!


Cardboard, paper, cans and bottles can be picked up with your regular recycling service or dropped off at collection centers. You can sell metal waste at scrap yards.

Light Bulbs

Not all recycling centers will accept light bulbs, so make sure to check online first. 


You should be able to find recycling programs for batteries such as car batteries, rechargeable batteries and button cell batteries. 

However, there may not be a place to recycle your single-use alkaline batteries. If you can find a place that will recycle them, you should recycle them! However, alkaline batteries are the least dangerous for the environment and may be thrown in the trash as a last resort unless you live in the state of California. 

Yard Waste

Some municipalities have drop-off centers, and your trash hauler may offer curbside pick-up of specially tagged bags. Home compost kits are also available.


Check with local tire or auto parts retailers for drop-off and recycle programs. If you have tires that are still in good condition, you may be able to sell them to an auto parts or tire store near you.

What You Can Put in Your Dumpster

So what can you throw in a dumpster? Now that you know about things you can’t put in the dumpster, you may be curious about a few other questionable items. Most household materials that are not hazardous, flammable or toxic can be thrown in your dumpster. Some large items may have restrictions or extra fees, so check your local waste disposal service for more information.

Incandescent, Halogen and LED Light Bulbs

You may throw incandescent light bulbs, halogen light bulbs and LED light bulbs away with your regular trash. They don’t contain hazardous materials. However, it’s best to dispose of them in another disposable material to avoid injuring anyone if they break.

Empty Aerosol Cans

Aerosol cans can explode if they are not completely empty before being thrown in a dumpster. Check to make sure they are empty before tossing them. In some areas, you may be able to recycle them, so check your local recycling establishment to see if you can put them out with your regular recyclables. 

Dry Latex Paint

You can throw away dried latex paint in your dumpster. Make sure it is fully hardened before tossing it! You can dry out old paint fast with sawdust, cat litter or paper towels. 

Most Furniture

All wooden furniture, like chairs, tables and bookshelves, can be thrown away in a dumpster. In many places, you can also throw away upholstered furniture. Check the rules of your local area to find out if they accept upholstered furniture before tossing it out. There may be an additional fee for tossing upholstered furniture or mattresses.

Drained Appliances — In Some Locations

You may be able to throw away fully-drained appliances depending on your location. Be sure to check your local resources to find out if this may be an option for you. The process of draining all hazardous materials from an appliance can be tricky, so it may be best to let a professional dispose of your item. 

Other Trash

Most other household products are safe to throw in your dumpster. This includes items like curtains, carpet, pans, boxes, sinks, books, documents, clothes, non-electronic toys and non-recyclable plastics. If you need to throw out food waste, put it in a trash bag before tossing it in a dumpster.

Contact VLS Environmental Solutions

Contact VLS

Do you have more questions about what you shouldn’t put into your dumpster? We’re happy to help you sort it all out! Contact us at 1-877-861-8588 or info@vlses.com.

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