Skip to content

Risky business: Where to dispose of hazardous household waste

Cathy Dobson Even the most environmentally savvy can be stumped over what to do with hazardous waste that’s not acceptable for curbside pickup. Whether it’s old batteries or CFL light bulbs, doing the right thing isn’t always easy.
Paint cans copy

Cathy Dobson

Even the most environmentally savvy can be stumped over what to do with hazardous waste that’s not acceptable for curbside pickup.

Whether it’s old batteries or CFL light bulbs, doing the right thing isn’t always easy. To help, The Journal has compiled this quick reference list.


Spent AA, AAA, C, D, and 9-volt batteries shouldn’t go in the garbage because they contain toxic mercury.

Lowes on Quinn Drive (519-541-2120) will take most old batteries. They are also accepted at Future Shop, all The Source locations and at Home Depot, except cell phone and car batteries. Home Depot will also take old tool batteries.

All 26 Lambton County library branches have drop-off boxes available for dead alkaline and rechargeable batteries. Since 2008, Lambton has shipped them to the Rechargeable Battery Recycling Corporation (RBRC).


The volume of discarded computers, printers, scanners and hand-held devices is growing, but so are the places that accept e-waste.

Joe Black, owner of Digital Friends on Evett Street (519-344-3334) accepts all electrical and electronic components. Digital Friends rebuilds and resells whatever appliances/computers it can. The rest are broken down and taken to a recycler.

Wired Nation, a computer centre at Mitton and Davis (519-333-9210), also takes computer components and cell phones. “If it fits on a desk, we’ll take it,” says owner Andrew Dawson.

Wired Nation and Digital Friends will destroy personal data at no charge.

Sarnia has five official collection sites sanctioned by the Ontario Electronic Stewardship program. Future Shop, Habitat for Humanity Restore, Canadian Tire and Goodwill (both Wellington and Michigan locations) take all electronics and cell phones for recycling at approved processing sites. Staples also accepts most e-waste.


Staples on London Road has a drop-off box. Call 519-542-4461. Wired Nation on Mitton will also take empty ink cartridges.


Place in a hard container like a water bottle or pop can and take them to Lambton Public Health, 160 Exmouth St.


Clean Harbors at Telfer Road and Petrolia Line in St. Clair Township hosts a Household Hazardous Waste Day every last Saturday of the month from April to October, excluding July and August. The next is Sept. 27. Be prepared for lineups. Runs 9 a.m. – 2 p.m. Clean Harbors takes virtually all hazardous waste, including batteries, pool chemicals and rat poison, but does not accept smoke detectors, tires or ammunition. Once a year, HHW Day is moved into the city, usually at Lambton College in the spring.


The blue box program will accept only dry, empty, metal paint cans. Lowes will take old paint, pour it in a barrel at the store and ship for proper disposal. But Lowes won’t accept paint cans. Paint cans and paint are accepted at Clean Harbors’ Hazardous Waste Days.


Flushing unused or expired medicine down the sink or toilet harms the environments. Take them to any pharmacy for disposal. Alternatively, the OPP and city police hold annual prescription drug drop-off days.


NeighbourLink Sarnia/Lambton is operated by a group of churches and helps folks down on their luck. NeighbourLink takes gently used beds, bedding, appliances, furniture, baby items and medical equipment. While others take furniture, this is one place that accepts mattresses too. Call 519-336-5465. Though not hazardous waste, mattresses take up valuable landfill space.


Trijan Industries on Plank Road will take your old car battery and might pay you for it. Trijan also takes scrap metal of all kinds


Habitat for Humanity’s ReStore at 1787 London Line accepts fridges and removes the freon (refrigerant) for recycling at no cost. Call 519-339-7957. Paulo’s Scrap Removal (519-328-1095) will also pick up your fridge and remove the Freon. Pickup is free in Sarnia, Point Edward and Corunna, unless the fridge is still inside the home. Then there’s a $20 charge.


Old detectors have a radioactive component that shouldn’t be landfilled. But we could find no one who takes them. If you have a solution, email us.


These are tough to dispose of properly and can’t be landfilled because they contain small amounts of mercury. Lowes and Canadian Tire will accept long-lasting fluorescent bulbs after they burn out. Take the smaller spiral CFLs to the paint desk at Canadian Tire. We found no one that will accept long-tube fluorescent lights in Sarnia.


They aren’t accepted as trash. Take construction materials, including drywall, windows, doors and cabinets to the Habitat for Humanity’s ReStore on London Line.

GROCERY BAGS (not hazardous but a nuisance)

If you’re not using reusable grocery bags, you may have drawers filled with thin plastic ones. Take them to Lowes for recycling or Foodland in Corunna. Sarnia’s Metro stores on Exmouth Street and London Road also have recycling bins. Charitable organizations that could use them include Habitat’s Restore and possibly some thrift shops.


A number of local garages, including Canadian Tire, accept the old gunk.

We may have missed some helpful recyclers in this list. If readers have additional ideas about disposing of household hazardous waste, we welcome the feedback. Please email [email protected].

Join the Community: Receive Our Daily News Email for Free