Fire Extinguishers Hazardous Waste Commercial extinguishers and any extinguisher that isn’t empty should be handled as hazardous waste. Residential extinguishers are typically dry chemical (sodium bicarbonate or monoammonium phosphate) and carbon dioxide. These are not hazardous and can be safely discharged into a bag or box which can be selaed and placed in the garbage. Be sure to wear goggles and a protective mask, and to discharge away from other people and pets. Empty plastic extinguishers can be recycled with other containers. Empty metal extinguishers should be handled as scrap metal. Never Throw in the Garbage Even if you are certain there is no remaining pressure, never throw a fire extinguisher in the garbage. It could explode in a garbage truck. Check Regularly Check your fire extinguisher every month to make sure that it is safe to use. The needle should point to the green area of the pressure gauge. If the needle points to the red area, you must replace your extinguisher or have it refilled. Most fire extinguishers only last 5 to 10 years, even if they have never been used. Release Pressure for Proper Disposal First, check your fire extinguisher’s pressure gauge. If there is still pressure, shoot a small amount of the contents into an open area. Let the canister sit for a few days to release the excess pressure before disposing as hazardous waste. Ways to Reduce Never Test If you spray your fire extinguisher even once, you must replace it or have it refilled.