Hazardous waste collection never declines

Published 10:13 am Thursday, August 8, 2013

Column: Solid Waste Officer, by Randy Tuchtenhagen

The household hazardous waste collection program continues to set records. So far this year we have tied attendance records in one city and broke the 18-year attendance record at another. The volume of materials also remain high.

Randy Tuchtenhagen

Randy Tuchtenhagen

The natural assumption is that after a few years the program would wind down or cut back on the number of collections we offer, and we would collect less paint and fewer chemicals. After 18 years of operation we still receive car-trunk loads and pickup loads of paint (cans and aerosols) yard pesticides and weed killers, antifreeze, fertilizer, asbestos, mercury containing devices, acids, old gasoline, varnish, rechargeable batteries and toxic liquids.

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As long as homes are being sold, and there is a need to clean up years of accumulated items, there probably will be a need for disposal of these common household items.

Since the program inception in 1996, we have held 20 collections each year throughout the county. Some collections are held on a Saturday, some over the noon hour and a couple collections run until 6 p.m.

One of the biggest successes of this program has been the volunteers who show up and help us unload vehicles and bulk paint. We dump the latex paints in one barrel and oil-based paint in another. The paint is shipped to the Twin Cities to be made into new paint or other products.

Other items we collect go to disposal locations such as the Minnesota Department of Agriculture. We have a contract with this agency to take all our pesticides, including those from farmers. Rather than allow toxic chemicals to deteriorate or leak onto the ground, we encourage people to take action and dispose of them properly. Our volunteers, some who have helped us for many years, allow us the ability to handle 100-plus vehicles on busy days and to bulk, contain and package poison and chemicals that are dangerous to us and the environment.

Thank you to everyone who has given up their time to make our program so successful.

There are still collections scheduled for Clarks Grove, Maple Island, Glenville and Albert Lea before the season ends on Sept. 25.

Here are dates and times:

• Clarks Grove, noon-3 p.m., Aug. 14

• Albert Lea, 9 a.m.-noon, Aug. 24

• Maple Island, 11 a.m.-2 p.m., Aug. 27

• Albert Lea, 9 a.m.-noon, Sept. 14

• Glenville, noon-3 p.m., Sept. 25

If you cannot attend any of the upcoming collections have a friend or neighbor bring the materials for you or store them until next season. We do not have a drop-off location, nor is it legal to drop off any hazardous material meant for a collection and leave it unattended. A registration is required.

Don’t forget the electronic collection on Sept. 27. There is no charge for small TV sets and computer items but console televisions, projection televisions or broken glass screens have a disposal cost. The prices charged by 5R Processors Ltd. are changing next year, so don’t procrastinate on disposal of electronics.


Randy Tuchtenhagen is the Freeborn County solid waste officer.