St. Clair County Resource Recovery Office


Many adhesives, products used to hold things together or fill cracks, contain solvents and other toxic chemicals. When disposed of improperly-in the trash, down a drain or on the ground-they many pollute streams, lakes and ground water.

This fact sheet provides instructions for disposal of adhesive. The St. Clair County resource Recovery Office also has fact sheets o how to dispose of other common types of household hazardous waste:

  • Aerosol Containers
  • Antifreeze
  • Cleaner, Medications and Cosmetics
  • Gasoline
  • Motor Vehicle Batteries
  • Paint
  • Pesticides
  • Solvents
  • Used Motor oil
  • Wood Preservatives

For more information on household hazardous wastes and collection programs:
St. Clair County Resource Recovery Office
(810) 985-2443


Adhesives include:  
  • Glues
  • Caulking compounds
  • Rubber cement
  • Wood putty
  • Tile adhesive
  • Glazing compounds
  • Spackling
  • Epoxy resins
  • Tile grout
  • Patching pastes
  • Carpet adhesives
  • Linoleum pastes
  • Joint fillers
  • Auto-body filler

Leftover adhesives should be used up or stored until you can use them up on another project. If you can't use them up, many people and organizations may welcome a donation of leftover adhesives. Ask friends, relatives, neighbors, community service organizations, schools, churches and others whether they can use your leftover adhesives.

Some businesses may accept your leftovers. For example, tile adhesives and grouts can be used by tile-installation businesses, and spackling compounds are useful to painting contractors.

If you can't use your adhesives up, disposal depends on whether your adhesive is solvent-based or water-based. To find out, check the container label. Solvent-based adhesives will be labeled "flammable ", "combustible or "contains petroleum distillates". Water-based adhesives will include a warning to keep the adhesive from freezing. Most caulking compounds, spackling compounds, grouts and glues such as white glue, glue sticks, library paste and yellow glue are water-based.

Disposal: Water-based adhesives
Water-based adhesives can be disposed of at home by following the drying instructions on the next page. Once the adhesive is hardened, it can be safely placed in the trash.

Disposal: Solvent-based adhesives
Solvent-based adhesives are flammable, and releasing the fumes to the air in the drying process can be a health and environmental hazard. Because of this, only very small quantities of solvent-based adhesives-less than on cup (8 ounces)-should be disposed of at home. For these small quantities, follow the drying instructions below.

Larger quantities of solvent-based adhesives-more than one cup (8 ounces) should be taken to a household hazardous waste collection for proper disposal. Until a collection is available in your county, store the adhesive in an area away form sparks, heat and sources of flame. For information on household hazardous waste collections, call you county solid waste department.

(Water-based and less than one cup of solvent-based):

Step 1: Find a safe work place. Look for an outside area away from children, pets and sources of heat or flames, like a locked screen porch or balcony. Avoid inhaling solvent fumes.

Step 2: Dry out, or harden, the adhesive.

  • If you have a small amount of adhesive, open the container and let it dry.
  • If the adhesive is in a tube, slit the tube for drying.
  • For larger amounts of water based adhesive, spread the adhesive in thin layers on cardboard or newspapers.
  • For epoxy, auto-body filler and other two-part adhesives, mix the two parts together to let them dry.

Step 3: Throw the adhesive away. When the adhesive is completely dried and hardened, and the newspaper or cardboard dries, you can safely place all these materials in the trash.

Disposal of leftover adhesives can be an environmental hazard. However, this hazard and the inconvenience of getting rid of leftovers can easily be avoided by being a smart consumer.

Use up leftover adhesives before you buy more.

Buy only the amount you need. Buy the smallest quantity available-you can always buy more.

Buy water-based products rather than solvent-based adhesives. Although homeowners can dry out very small quantities of leftover solvent-based adhesives, there is an environmental consequence to doing this. By evaporating the solvent, the chemicals are released to the air-creating an air quality hazard. It's better not to buy solvent-containing adhesives.

When buying glues, buy white glues, glue sticks, library pastes and yellow glues. These glues effectively adhere most porous surfaces including cloth, wood, fabric and pottery and are the least hazardous and safest glues on the market.

Store water-based adhesives carefully. Keep them from freezing and becoming unusable, so they don't become a waste.

Contact Information

Environmental Services Department
6779 Smiths Creek Road
Smiths Creek, MI 48074

Phone: Smiths Creek Landfill (810) 985-2443
Household Hazardous Waste     (810) 985-2443
Recycling (810) 985-2443
Fax: (810) 367-3062
Email: Environmental Services
Hours of Operation: Monday - Friday: 7:30 a.m. to 4:00 p.m.
Saturday: 8:00 a.m. to 1:00 p.m.
Solid Waste & Recycling Status: 

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