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Retailer Requirements for Household Hazardous Materials

Information from the Iowa Department of Natural Resources

The 1987 Iowa Groundwater Protection Act includes provisions that affect retailers of household hazardous materials (HHMs) in two ways.

1) Retailers who sell HHMs are required to.

2) The consumer information program requires that retailers

  • Provide consumers with brochures, containing detailed information about HHMs and their proper disposal, and
  • Display informational signs near products to explain labeling and direct consumers to brochures.

What are HHMs?

Any brand, grade, size or volume of the following products are, but not limited to, household hazardous materials (HHMs):

  • Motor oil and motor oil additives
  • Motor oil filters
  • Gasoline and diesel additives
  • Degreasers
  • Waxes and polishes
  • Solvents (excluding water)
  • Lacquers and thinners
  • Paints (excluding latex paint)
  • Caustic household cleaners
  • Stain removers with petroleum base
  • Petroleum-based fertilizers
  • Pesticides

HHMs don't include laundry detergents or soaps, dishwashing compounds, chlorine bleach, personal care products, cosmetics, medications or pharmaceuticals. However, care should be taken when using these products and when disposing of leftover product. Always read manufacturer labels and follow manufacturer instructions.

Permit Requirements

All retailers selling HHMs in Iowa must have a permit. A regular permit is $25. A special permit for manufacturers or distributors using independent agents may cost more depending on gross sales. For questions about the payment of the permit, contact the Iowa Department of Revenue. For other questions, contact the Department of Natural Resources.

Collecting Waste Oil

Retailers who collect waste oil must:

  • Accept waste oil in a closed, unbreakable, and preferably reusable container.
  • Provide supervision during the collection process, except at specially designed drop-off sites (contact the Iowa Department of Natural Resources for design requirements) to minimize the risk of spills and to prevent introduction of contaminated waste oil into the tank,
  • Secure the collection site during non-collection hours.
  • Place a sign on or near the waste oil collection tank, which includes the information that this tank is for waste oil collection only and the depositing of other materials is prohibited.
  • Ensure that the ultimate disposition of the collected waste oil is for recycling.
  • Collect waste oil during normal business hours.
  • Post signs near the point of sale explaining that it is unlawful to dispose of waste oil in landfills or in waterways and that this location is a designated waste oil collection site.
  • Comply with Iowa Code 455B.386 when spills pose a threat to public health or the environment by notifying the Iowa Department of Natural Resources, local police, or sheriff as soon as possible but not later than six hours after the onset of the hazardous condition or discovery of the hazardous condition.


The IDNR consumer HHM brochure provides information on what products are considered HHMs, proper use, storage, and disposal, phone numbers for further information, and an explanation of the groundwater concerns related to HHMs. The HHM brochure shall be displayed at a location in each store that is easily accessible to consumers. Brochures are available from the IDNR and may be ordered at no charge.


Manufacturers or distributors who authorize sales of products on a person-to-person basis must provide an HHM product list and HHM brochure to customers during the course of an initial sale of an HHM product. In later sales, the list and consumer HHM brochure must be available upon request.


Informational Signs

Retailers are required to post information signs explaining how improper disposal of HHMs can contaminate groundwater and surface water. The signs should also direct consumers to other HHM informational materials available in the store. The signs must be presented close to shelves where HHMs are displayed as well as the location where other information is available. Signs don't have to be placed next to all HHMs, but must be displayed in areas where there are concentrations of HHMs. Signs must be placed in locations that are clearly visible to. consumers. These signs may be ordered from the IDNR at no charge.

Motor Oil Signs

Iowa Code Section 455D:13 requires retailers who sell oil to post a sign near the point of sale which informs customers that it is unlawful to dispose of waste motor oil in a sanitary landfill, and that customers should return their waste motor oil to collection sites for recycling and reuse. Signs are available from the IDNR at no cost.

Retailers who choose not to collect used motor oil shall post a durable, legible 8-1/2" x 11" sign near the point of sale that reminds consumers that used motor oil is a hazardous waste. The sign should also identify the location of the nearest used oil collection site, list the benefits from recycling waste oil, and state that it is illegal to dispose of waste oil in a landfill or in a state waterway. Retailers should contact the HHM program at the Iowa DNR for complete sign specifications.

Cooperation with other retailers is encouraged. The IDNR maintains a listing of identified oil collection sites. Waste oil signs are available at no charge and can be ordered from the IDNR.

Lead Acid Battery Signs

Iowa Code Section 455D.10 requires retailers selling lead acid batteries to post a sign at the point of sale stating that land disposal is prohibited and that the retailer will accept the return of a used lead acid battery at the time of purchase of a new battery. Lead acid battery signs are available from the IDNR at no charge.

Collection Site Directory

The IDNR Waste Management Assistance staff publishes an Automotive Directory that lists locations collecting used oil, used oil filters, antifreeze, and lead acid batteries as well as vendors that transport or recycle these items from collection sites. If you want your business listed, please contact the IDNR.

For More Information

DNR Waste Management - Safe Smart Solutions
Call: 515-725-8200
HHM Program
Iowa Department of Natural Resources
Wallace State Office Building
502 E. Ninth St.
Des Moines IA 50319-0034