By Tim Cox
Mercer County will spend $30,000 from its solid waste funding to hold its annual household hazardous materials pickup later this month.
This is the 8th year for the event, which remains popular among residents, said Carla Buening in the county solid waste office. Officials from Clean Harbors Environmental Services, Braintree, Mass., will be at the county fairgrounds in Celina Aug. 26 to accept a number of items not considered suitable for regular trash disposal.
Commissioners approved a $30,000 contract with the company this week. The pickup will be ended early if the volume of material reaches the contract maximum. The solid waste district pays for the collection through tipping fees paid by trash haulers at the county landfill.
Materials that will be accepted are paint and related products, organic liquids, pesticides and garden products, household batteries, laboratory waste, oil and oil filters, aerosol cans, dioxin waste and small propane cylinders. Mercury waste will also be accepted .
Also, household appliances including washers and dryers, refrigerators, freezers and stoves will be accepted. Electronic appliances such as televisions and VCRs are prohibited and so are tires. The program was launched by county officials in 1999 as a pilot paint collection day. The pickup has been expanded nearly every year since then and last year collected 15 tons of material, including 17,470 pounds of paint. Officials counted 525 vehicles that brought material to the drop-off site.
Officials plan to add a public education element to this year's event to help the available money stretch further in the future. People who drop off material at the fairgrounds will be given information about disposing of old latex paint themselves.
Latex paint can be dried out and safely discarded with other garbage. The paint can be mixed with cat litter or sawdust to dry it up.
"After it's dry, it's no longer hazardous," Buening said.
The county paid $27,445 for last year's cleanup. Of that, $5,590 went toward disposal of lead paint.
If people would dispose of their own latex paint, there would be extra money available to handle other types of hazardous waste found around the home, Buening said.