Marie Steinwachs
Office of Waste Management

Coordinator guide

From trash to treasure

It is better to carefully use up unwanted household hazardous products than to dispose of them in the trash or down the drain. But if you do not wish to use the products or cannot use them, what other options are there besides disposal? One option is to share these products with responsible adults in your neighborhood, church or civic group.

The Stored Waste Abatement Program, or SWAP, links people with usable but unwanted products with others who would use those products.

SWAP does not include pharmaceuticals, industrial or commercial hazardous wastes, radioactive wastes, or banned or restricted pesticides

As a SWAP coordinator, you will not be handling the products, but will organize the SWAP so that the participants exchange products directly with one another. By volunteering to coordinate a SWAP, you are educating people and helping to protect our environment.

How to organize a SWAP

  • Educate yourself about the health and environmental problems concerning household hazardous products
    Two ways to increase your awareness are to study the Guide to Hazardous Products Around the Home, available through HHWP or to take our course entitled "From Awareness to Action!"
  • Copy the enclosed SWAP Home Inventory Form and Home Inventory Instructions front-to-back
    Distribute one to each member of your group. The SWAP Home Inventory Form has safety guidelines to follow while undertaking the inventory of household hazardous products.
  • Inform the members of your group about the problem of household hazardous waste, how SWAP is a part of the solution, and the SWAP procedures
    Carefully read aloud to the group members the safety guidelines presented on the SWAP Home Inventory Instructions. Strongly emphasize safe handling, storage, and transportation of household hazardous products to the members of your group.
  • Set a specific deadline for accepting the SWAP Home Inventory Forms and a specific time period during which the exchanges may occur
    We suggest that the exchange period lasts no longer than a month in order that the information remains valid. If the interest is great, the SWAP can be repeated.
  • Determine how the members will return the SWAP form to you
    Some possibilities include providing a stamped and addressed envelope or collecting the forms at the next meeting.
  • Compile the list of materials available for exchange by the members of the group
    There are a variety of ways to compile this list and the best method may depend upon the size of your group. One way is to list every participant's name and phone number and the material they would like to share.
  • Display this list in a prominent place or distribute it to the group members
    Those who wish to acquire these products can note the name and phone number of members having products to share.
  • Refer participants to HHWP for advice on how to secure and hold the products not chosen until another SWAP or a household hazardous waste collection event occurs
    HHWP would be happy to answer any questions you may have. Thanks for coordinating and participating in a SWAP!

SWAP — Home Inventory instructions

Please read carefully
SWAP is a program designed to link individuals who have leftover hazardous products with others who would use those products. It is good to know that household hazardous products you no longer want may find a home with someone who will use them up, rather than going down the drain or into the trash. SWAP does not include phannaceuticals, industrial or commercial hazardous wastes, radioactive wastes, or banned or restricted pesticides.

Identifying household hazardous waste

Hazardous products may be toxic, corrosive, explosive, or flammable. Many products used around the home are hazardous and therefore difficult to dispose of properly. If a hazardous product is used up, there is no hazardous waste to dispose of. Improper disposal of hazardous wastes poses a threat to our health and the environment.

Be part of a SWAP!

Inventory your home for unwanted but usable household hazardous products that you are willing to share with others. The SWAP Home Inventory Form (below) lists common household hazardous products. If you have products not mentioned on the form that you wish to share, please note them in the section called "Other." Record the brand name and the amount of the hazardous product you have on the form. While surveying your home, record on a different sheet of paper any products you wish to receive to compare later with the available products. Return the Home Inventory Form to the SWAP coordinator. The coordinator will compile a list of products available for exchange and each owner's name and phone number. Check the list for available products you may wish to use up.

When inventorying your home, please follow these important safety guidelines:

  • Do not eat, drink, or smoke while conducting your inventory. Traces of hazardous chemicals can be carried from hand to mouth. If the product is flammable, smoking may start a fire.
  • If you find a product that is leaking and you have touched it, wash your hands immediately. Then wear heavy rubber or nitrile gloves for handling. Place the leaking product in its original container upright into a plastic bucket with a tight-fitting lid surrounded by plenty of clay-based absorbent (such as kitty litter) which will absorb the leaking product. On the outside of the plastic container write the contents, amount, and date, plus the words "Danger" or "Poison."
  • Wash your hands thoroughly when you have finished the SWAP Home Inventory Form.
  • Check to see if your hazardous products are stored out of the reach of children and pets.
  • Be sure that flammables are stored away from sources of sparks, heat, and flames. Check that aerosol cans are stored away from high-temperature areas.

Consider these points when selecting products to exchange:

  • Only exchange products in their original containers with labels that clearly identify the contents and safe use instructions. Do not exchange products in containers that are leaking.
  • Never exchange a product that has been mixed.
  • Do not exchange pesticides without contacting your county extension agent to deterirnine if your pesticide is now considered banned or restricted.

When you exchange household hazardous products:

  • Have lids and caps tightly sealed.
  • Beware of aerosol cans without caps. Package them with newspaper around the tops.
  • Keep combustibles out of direct sunlight and away from heat sources.
  • Place incompatible products in separate boxes. Flammables, corrosives, and poisons should all be separated. The product label will indicate its category.
  • Place the products in your car trunk or be certain there is good ventilation if you transport them in the passenger compartment. Do not smoke while transporting hazardous materials.
  • Wash hands thoroughly after handling products.

Table 1
SWAP Home Inventory form

ProductBrand nameAmount
Living room
Furniture polish  
Drain cleaner  
Oven cleaner  
Floor cleaner  
Metal cleaner  
Nail polish/remover  
Laundry room
Laundry detergent  
Caulking materials  
Paint thinner  
Furniture stripper  
Windshield wiper fluid  
Car wax  
Weed killers  
Bug repellent  
Flea spray  
Around the house
Pool chemicals  
Photography chemicals  
Art/hobby supplies  
Other products


Phone (day):

Phone (evening):

SWAP coordinator's evaluation

Dear coordinator,
Thank you for coordinating a Solid Waste Abatement Program (SWAP) with your organization. We are trying to determine the effectiveness of our educational materials and would appreciate it if you would please answer these few questions.

Your comments are essential for improving this activity. Please copy this form and include any additional comments on the back. Please return the completed form to HHWP at the address below. Thank you for your time and comments.

Return form to: Household Hazardous Waste Project, 1031 E. Battlefield, Suite 214, Springfield, Mo. 65807


The Guide to Hazardous Products Around the Home is a personal action manual for protecting your health and the environment. This comprehensive, 178-page handbook explains product ingredients, safety issues, disposal, recycling outlets, safer product alternatives, and more! Promoted by Greenpeace, the United Nations Environmental Programme, 50 Simple Things You can do to Save the Earth and The Green Consumer. The Guide was written by the Household Hazardous Waste Project, winner of the 1991 President's Environment and Conservation Challenge Award. To order this guide, send $9.95 (Missouri residents add 69 cents sales tax) to: HHWP, 1031 E. Battlefield, Suite 214, Springfield, Mo. 65807.
Information provided through SWAP is supplied by the lister of the material. Neither the SWAP nor the Household Hazardous Waste Project (HHWP) nor any advisor is liable for any information, errors, or representation, or makes any warranty, express or implied, as to the accuracy of the material descripfion, the suitability for a particular purpose, or the merchantability of any material offered through this service or any service which may publish the material description. Neither SWAP nor HHWP is responsible for the detemiination of what may constitute a hazardous substance or create a hazardous situation. SWAP and HHWP do not make judgments with respect to any legal requirements, particularly for the storage, transportation, treatment or disposal of hazardous substances. SWAP reserves the right to not list a material, de-list a material, or edit information provided by the listing party.
The Household Hazardous Waste Project assumes no responsibility for any injury or damage resulting from the use or effect of any product or information specified in this publication.
Copyright 1994 by the Environmental Improvement and Energy Resources Authority. Published by the MU Extension Household Hazardous Waste Project in cooperation with EIERA.
Publication No. WM5000