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We’ll Keep the Container: Insight into City’s Hazardous Waste Facility Practices

HHW productsGiven the thousands of residents served by the City’s Household Hazardous Waste (HHW) facility over the years, we have seen just about every type of household waste container out there. From spray bottles and plastic buckets to aerosol cans and plastic bags, residents drop off their unwanted HHW in all shapes and sizes. Yet, some residents wonder why their containers can’t be returned to them after dropping of their hazardous materials. In most cases, the answer is simple: safety and efficiency.

Imagine it is 9am on a Friday morning. Fifteen cars are lined up for their drop-off appointment at the HHW facility. The first car in line checks in with the greeter, has their address verified, pulls up to the unloading area, and turns off their vehicle. In their trunk rests 75 lbs. of mixed batteries, latex paint, and gasoline. Now, consider the time it would take if the technicians had to unload the vehicle and, while doing so, sort and place the batteries in its proper collection bin, drain each paint can into a 55-gallon paint drum and replace each lid, and empty each gasoline can into a plastic drum for flammable liquids while ensuring both the drum and the technician are grounded to prevent any fire hazards. That process might take 10 minutes and you might be the 15th car in line.

The processes in place at the HHW facility are designed around safety and efficiency. By keeping hazardous materials in their own containers, facility staff are not exposed to the materials, and save valuable time by not sorting and emptying individual containers. This limits wait times for everyone.

There are two exceptions to this process - antifreeze and used motor oil. These two liquids are bulked (individual containers are emptied into larger containers for efficient transport) in a designated area at the facility. Antifreeze and used motor oil are much more cost-effective to recycle when bulked since there are industries who will pump and haul these liquids off-site for recycling. The City encourages DIY-ers to recycle their motor oil by providing a collection kit which they can re-use.

Otherwise, please remember that no other hazardous waste containers will be returned to you at our facility. So, if you want to keep that special gas can of yours, we encourage you to transfer the gas to a disposable container at your residence prior to your trip to HHW.

We also strongly discourage mixing of materials. It may seem more efficient to combine wastes in preparation for transport but combining materials may pose safety concerns due to adverse chemical reactions. Mixing material often makes recycling certain wastes extremely difficult. Keep it safe and simple by keeping unwanted wastes in their individual containers.

The City is committed to providing a safe, convenient, and efficient means to dispose of your unwanted hazardous wastes. Use our guide to help you transport your hazardous waste safely.

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