City Collects Thousands of Pounds in Household Waste

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COLUMBIA - Every other Saturday, cars line up outside the hazardous waste collection facility to get rid of unused chemicals. Collection Superintendent Nick Paul said nearly 126,000 pounds of material are collected from April to November.

It is a part of the city's Solid Waste Recycling Program and the budget is about $35,000 to $40,000, not including personnel.

Paul said the city often uses the recycled materials for city maintenance. "A lot of people who work for the city will use it within the city to spray for bugs and wasps."

However, Boone County residents also benefit from the recycled products.

"One of the biggest things is our latex paint. We take our latex paint, and put it in with like items, and we get different colors of paint," Paul said. "All that can be bulked up and given away. On average, we will get 40 to 45 five gallon buckets of latex paint in a collection."

After workers sort the chemicals, they place usable items in the "Swap Shed" where anyone can come and pick out what they need free-of-charge. The most popular item in the swap shed is latex paint. However, people can find anything from de-icer to brake fluid.

Wayne Dykstra has lived in Columbia for more than 30 years and said he brings in his used auto oil. He said it's an easy way to help protect the environment.

"It's easy," Dykstra said. "There's no waiting. You just come in and get rid of this stuff. It gets chemicals, like insecticides and herbicides, out of the eco-system."

Duane Perry agrees. He said he typically brings in a bunch of different items after cleaning out his family's garage.

"I had a whole mixed bag of things that were in my garage that have been sitting there for years: paint, spray cans, various chemicals, stuff that's dried up and I didn't want to throw it in the landfill," Perry said. "This is a great thing. I like to be able to come here to get rid of it instead of sending it to the landfill."

The program saves people money in more ways than providing recycled chemicals for free. If people dispose of hazardous products incorrectly, the United States Department of Natural Resources can fine them.