We refer to HHWCD, most commonly known as Household Hazardous Waste Collection Day.
Although we take a lighthearted approach in labeling this semiannual occasion as “The Day,” it’s actually an extremely serious matter. That’s because HHWCD is all about protecting the environment and doing it by giving area residents an outlet for properly disposing of household wastes that can be toxic, and when improperly mixed or dumped, can actually be lethal.
Local residents who regularly use HHWCD know that it occurs once in the spring and once in the fall, thanks to the willingness of Bradley County Mayor D. Gary Davis to allot approximately $50,000 to pay the event’s expenses. The funds are taken from host fees paid to the county by Santek Waste Services, the contractor that manages the Bradley County Landfill.
It’s a collaborative that not only involves Santek and the county mayor’s office, but also willing partners like Cleveland/Bradley County Keep America Beautiful which provides on-site volunteers, and Tri-State Exhibition Center, the equestrian facility that provides a convenient location for motorist drop-off. Also, the Bradley County Sheriff’s Office offers inmate labor for unloading and in past events the HHWCD has been promoted by fliers that have been included in monthly billing statements by Cleveland Utilities.
The coming spring event is set for Saturday, March 22, from 8 a.m. to 1 p.m. at Tri-State. The next one can be expected sometime in October.
Given the springtime change of seasons, March weather can be a little tricky. But Cheryl Dunson, executive vice president of Santek marketing who coordinates the HHWCD, confirmed volunteer workers will be on-site at Tri-State rain or shine.
Add snow to that mix, as well. Last year, heavily wrapped workers spent half a day in winter-like temperatures that included some snow flurries.
Pulling off the hazardous waste collection project twice a year is labor-intensive, but it’s an initiative well worth the energy and expense.
For those planning to participate Saturday, here are some reminders:
- Secure refuse items (called “waste streams” in the industry) in a sturdy cardboard box, and preferably line it with plastic or old newspapers. This will keep the materials better organized and allow volunteers to unload vehicles more efficiently and safely.
- No commercial or agribusiness waste will be accepted because the program is strictly limited to Bradley County residents.
- Anyone bringing waste oils to the HHWCD event will be directed to the nearby Bradley County Landfill which accepts waste oils free of charge throughout the year.
- Anyone delivering microwaves and tires also will be directed to the landfill because those materials also are accepted at the landfill and are recycled throughout the year. Dunson explains, “... Contrary to popular belief, microwaves and tires aren’t considered hazardous wastes.”
- Residents need not bring empty cans of paint or dried-up paint. Neither is considered hazardous waste and can be safely placed in the household trash. “We’re going to make a concerted effort this spring to only accept cans that contain liquid paint in an effort to help defray disposal costs,” Dunson told our newspaper.
- Arrive early and be patient. Volunteers are working as rapidly as possible while keeping safety at the project’s forefront.
- Just a few of the types of materials accepted include paints, solvents, cleaners, pesticides, automotive fluids, aerosols, old computers, TVs and fluorescent light bulbs.
- As always, area residents are encouraged to take advantage of the year-round electronics waste recycling efforts at the Peerless Road Recycling Center.
If in doubt about materials that can, or cannot, be accepted at the HHWCD, contact Dunson at 303-7107 or Joanne Maskew, KAB executive director, at 559-3307.
If you haven’t started collecting your refuse for Saturday, please do so.
If you can’t decide whether to participate, consider this: Everybody has household hazardous wastes. How many will be improperly unleashed into the environment?
It’s a decision today that will have an impact on countless generations of tomorrows.