An early spring cold snap whose snow flurries pre-empted buttercup blooms and April showers was tagged Public Enemy No. 1 six months ago when participation thinned at the biannual Household Hazardous Waste Collection Day.
But that was then. This is now.
Organizers are hoping for a far better turnout this time around as the traditionally popular HHWCD prepares for its autumn tilt on Saturday. Again set for the Tri-State Exhibition Center, the environment-friendly collection day will run from 8 a.m. to 1 p.m.
“We actually had snow flurries during our event in April and the temperature was extremely cold,” according to Cheryl Dunson, executive vice president of Marketing for Santek Waste Services, one of five key sponsors for the cleanup and collection day.
She added, “The weather definitely had an impact on the turnout so we’re encouraging everyone to embrace this opportunity to enjoy the fall weather while doing something worthwhile for the environment.”
Santek’s partners are key to bringing HHWCD to Bradley County, especially the mayor’s office which provides approximately $50,000 to pay for the hazardous waste collection event. The money is taken from the county’s Landfill Fund.
“Unfortunately, the state discontinued its funding of the HHWCD in 2010 due to the bad economy and a decrease in funds,” according to Mayor D. Gary Davis. “That left us with the prospect of a growing mountain of household hazardous material and the challenge of disposing of it.”
An environment advocate who believes clean air and pure water add to the quality of life in Bradley County, Davis said local government found the answer for continuing the household hazardous waste collection in the existing Landfill Fund.
“Bradley County is one of a handful of Tennessee counties with a Landfill Fund,” Davis explained. “This is money generated by ‘tipping fees’ which is returned to the county by our landfill operator, Santek Environmental. This fund is tightly controlled by state law, but it can be used for environmental purposes such as Household Hazardous Waste Collection Day which is expected to cost about $50,000.”
Santek and the mayor’s office are joined by three additional partners to keep HHWCD operating twice per year: Cleveland Utilities, which distributes informational program pamphlets about the event in its monthly billing statements; Cleveland/Bradley Keep America Beautiful, which provides volunteers at the site and helps to promote public awareness; and Tri-State, which provides a central collection site for materials dropoff.
Although this type of event is readily aligned with the mission and objectives of KAB, it is not as recognized with a public utility like CU. But the local provider of utility services has been an active HHWCD partner for years.
“Cleveland Utilities is pleased to be a sponsoring partner for this very worthwhile event,” said Ken Webb, acting president and CEO whose new duties become official Nov. 1 with the retirement of Tom Wheeler. “It is important residents are given an environmentally-friendly method of disposing of hazardous household waste.”
He added, “A program such as this helps Cleveland Utilities provide clean, safe drinking water to customers and prevents potentially hazardous substances from finding their way into the wastewater system. We urge all area residents to take part in this opportunity to help protect the environment.”
Joanne Maskew, KAB executive director who has championed the cause of community cleanup and waste collection in Cleveland and Bradley County for years, echoed the sentiments of both Dunson and Webb.
In a public statement about the HHWCD, Dunson offered reminders to Saturday’s participants that — if followed — should keep the lines flowing faster through the Tri-State gates while assuring improved safety for volunteers and event users.
The biggest reminder involves properly packaging household hazardous waste at home for the trip to Tri-State.
“By securing waste streams (materials to be dropped off) in sturdy cardboard boxes, residents will ensure the safety of the volunteers and workers who package the materials for disposal or re-use,” Dunson said. “If waste streams are properly labeled and packaged, it also makes it easier for the volunteers who unload residents’ vehicles.”
Another reminder involves empty paint cans.
According to Dunson, the “biggest misperception” about household hazardous waste is that empty paint cans or dried up paint is hazardous.
“Not true at all!” Dunson stressed. “Please put your empty paint cans or cans containing dried-up paint in your household trash. The only cans to be concerned about are those containing liquids.”
Another misnomer is microwaves. According to Dunson, “... contrary to popular belief, microwaves also aren’t considered hazardous waste and neither are tires. Both waste streams are accepted and recycled at the landfill throughout the year along with lead-acid batteries and tires.”
Keeping the HHWCD event operating is a team effort thanks to the promotional and on-site volunteer efforts of others, she said.
“In addition to the KAB volunteers who help direct traffic, we’re extremely grateful to Ken Webb and Cleveland Utilities,” Dunson stressed. “We’re able to distribute more than 35,000 educational fliers through the utility’s September billing cycle which really helps spread the word about this event.”
She also pointed to the willingness of Tri-State manager Mack Hess and his staff for providing free access to the center.
“Logistically, Tri-State allows us to move vehicles in and out quickly without long waits or delays,” Dunson explained. “However, we encourage all residents to arrive early and be patient. The gate will close promptly at 1 p.m.”
Like prior events in Bradley County, Saturday’s collection day is intended to give local residents a chance to clear out their storage sheds, utility rooms, basements and barns of household toxic wastes. These include paints, solvents, cleaners, pesticides, automotive fluids, aerosols, old computers, TVs and fluorescent light bulbs. Dunson stressed area residents “... are encouraged to take advantage of the year-round electronics waste recycling efforts at the Peerless Road Recycling Center.”
No commercial or agribusiness waste will be accepted. The program is limited to Cleveland and Bradley County residents.
“An event like this costs approximately $50,000 which reflects the types of waste we receive and the amount,” Dunson said. “We’re grateful to Mayor Davis for agreeing to fund two events this year which give all residents ample opportunity to dispose of these difficult waste streams.”
A few other tips about Saturday’s collection event:
- Leave products in their original containers.
- Re-label containers that have lost their labels.
- Do not mix two or more different products into one container.
- Place items in a cardboard box, preferably lined with newspaper or plastic.
A detailed list of acceptable items during the HHWCD event include:
- Automotive and Marine Products: Oil and fuel additives, grease and rust solvents, naval jelly, carburetor and fuel injector cleaners, starter fluids, auto body putty, antifreeze and coolant, and gasoline.
- Home Maintenance and Improvement Products: Oil-based paint, used strippers and thinners, adhesives, driveway sealant, roofing tar, wallpaper remover, and stains and varnishes.
- Home Lawn and Garden Products: Pesticides, fertilizers and wood preservatives.
- Miscellaneous: Pool chemicals, photo processing chemicals, medicines and drugs, aerosols and compressed gas, mercury thermostats and thermometers, and fluorescent tubes.
- Electronics: CPUs, TVs (console TVs must be dismantled), monitors, printers and keyboards.
Unacceptable items during the HHWCD event include:
- Medical and Biological: Needles and sharps, infectious wastes, dead animals and any waste from a doctor’s office, clinic or vet office.
- Explosives and Ammunition: Fireworks, military ordnance, gunpowder and ammunition.
- Radioactives: Smoke detectors and radium paint.
- Business Institutional Waste: No businesses (large or small), colleges or universities, schools, hospitals, home improvement or painting contractors, or agribusiness may participate.
- Miscellaneous: Empty containers of any kind, automotive gas tanks, laboratory chemicals or cooking oil.
The Tri-State Exhibition Center is located in the McDonald community off Nature’s Trail, formerly known as Pleasant Grove Road.
For more information or to receive a free pamphlet about the event, contact (Cheryl) Dunson at 303-7101 or (Joanne) Maskew at 559-3307.
(Editor’s Note: Watch for Bradley County Mayor D. Gary Davis’ weekly column, “Our County,” in the Tuesday edition of the Cleveland Daily Banner. He will address the HHWCD event while encouraging participation by area residents.)