DSWA collects hazardous waste from DE residents
Used gasoline, gardening pesticides and cleaning containers were safely disposed of at the event.
Published: Monday, September 3, 2012
Updated: Monday, September 3, 2012 22:09
Delaware residents brought common but potentially dangerous items from their homes in a drive-through style drop-off at Saturday’s Household Hazardous Waste Collection Event.
The Delaware Solid Waste Authority is a company that offers free disposal of all hazardous household waste to Delaware residents. It owns and operates all landfills in Delaware and supervises trash pickup and recycling.
DWSA recycling technician Darrin Johnson said community participation in the proper disposal of hazardous waste is the key to keeping Delaware residents safe.
“It’s important to do this to save the environment, to keep the materials out of landfills,” Johnson said.
Approximately 800 people came to the former Chrysler Assembly Plant on South College Avenue to have DSWA workers take items such as old batteries, used motor oil and broken fluorescent light bulbs out of their cars.
The DSWA partners with national companies such as Clean Harbors and Creative Recycling that bring the materials to their disposal plants, Johnson said. Clean Harbors removes common hazardous waste while Creative Recycling handles unusual items such as used shotgun shells and ammunition, he said.
Johnson said although environmentally friendly products are becoming more widely used, people still bring in hazardous materials like lead paint from 30 years ago.
Some common hazardous items brought to the event were used gasoline, gardening pesticides, cleaning chemicals and used aerosol cans, according to Johnson.
The DWSA usually holds 10 hazardous waste disposal events each year, Johnson said. There are close to 100 recycling drop-off centers open throughout the year. The company has events scheduled for every weekend in New Castle County on their website.
Michael Wayock, university environmental health and safety specialist at the university, said hazardous household wastes should be a more publicized issue. He is in charge of the safe disposal of chemical waste at the university and picks it up once a week from the labs. The Department of Health and Safety stores the waste until the contracted disposal company safely removes it, Wayock said.
“I deal with hazardous waste for a living, but most people don’t even know they have household hazardous waste,” he said.
Wayock said compact fluorescent light bulbs are an example of a common household item that can be dangerous. They can leak mercury when broken and pose a threat to both people and the environment, he said.
“It’s a hazard to the person if it breaks and a hazard to the environment if it’s thrown in the trash,” Wayock said. “If it goes in the trash it goes in a landfill.”
Wayock said he thinks companies should reimburse consumers who recycle these light bulbs since they are often not disposed of properly.
“If you give people the incentive, they will do it,” Wayock said. “Right now you’re trusting people to do the right thing. It may not get done.”