Today marks 40th anniversary of Earth DayWORTHINGTON — In honor of the 40th anniversary of Earth Day, the Household Hazardous Waste (HHW) facility, located at 960 Diagonal Road in Worthington, will host an open house today, with free hot dogs and soft drinks served by Schaap Sanitation from 11 a.m. until gone.
By: Julie Buntjer, Worthington Daily Globe
WORTHINGTON — In honor of the 40th anniversary of Earth Day, the Household Hazardous Waste (HHW) facility, located at 960 Diagonal Road in Worthington, will host an open house today, with free hot dogs and soft drinks served by Schaap Sanitation from 11 a.m. until gone.
While it first opened in 2002, the HHW facility is still considered one of those little-known resources in Worthington.
Every Tuesday and the first Saturday morning of each month the facility is open to take paints, cleaners, aerosols, pesticides, fertilizers batteries and “pretty much anything” under the kitchen or bathroom sink, according to Environmental Officer Mark Koster.
There is no charge to take those items off the hands of homeowners and renters, and while it will cost a small fee to bring in electronic items or fluorescent light bulbs, it’s still better than having the items pile up at home or tossing them in the garbage and causing potential soil contamination.
“I still get people in the facility that say, ‘I never knew you accepted this,’” Koster said.
Though not licensed to accept business waste, the county’s HHW facility will take electronics and fluorescent bulbs from businesses for a fee.
Just what happens after products are brought to the facility depends on what they are. For instance, some of the cans of latex paint are considered reusable and placed on a Product Exchange shelf inside the shop.
“The more we can use in our product exchange — the people can pick it up for free and drop it off for free — the better it is for us and the better it is for them,” said Koster.
Some latex paint is processed into useable paint by Amazon Environmental. Amazon paint can be purchased locally at Ace Hardware, said Koster, adding that paint recycled at the local HHW facility may end up in the paint sold at Ace. Any remaining latex paint brought to the HHW gets dried and used as an additive in concrete.
Oil-based paints and any fuel products are reused as a fuel source, while cleaners and pesticides are incinerated. Fluorescent bulbs are dismantled, with the mercury getting reclaimed and the glass being recycled for new bulbs.
With electronics, Koster said the heavy metals are reclaimed and the plastic components are recycled. Those processes are done by a state-approved company.
“Everything that we get we bring to our regional program up in Lyon County, and then it gets shipped out of there,” said Koster. “We just collect it and pay to get rid of it.”
The HHW also hosts a tire collection day once per year, although residents can take tires to the landfill at any time. The tires typically get shredded and used in a road base, or are shipped to Ottertail Power Company in South Dakota, where they are used as a fuel source.
The bottom line is that anything brought to the facility can be recycled.
In 2008, the last year for which data is available, Nobles County’s recycling rate was 66 percent — up considerably from prior years because of the ability to now calculate items recycled at garage sales and local thrift shops.
“If it’s getting diverted away from the landfill, then we can count that product,” said Koster.
The state goal is to reach a 50 percent recycling rate by 2011, while the southwest region hopes to reach that goal by 2014. For some counties with less industry, and therefore less business waste recycling, the goal will be a challenge, Koster said.
Items factored into the percentage include recycled paper, metals, glass, plastics, organic or banned materials, oil, filters, tires, electronics, household hazardous waste products and textiles.
Though Nobles County already exceeds the state goal for recycling, there’s certainly room for improvement.
“You can always do better than what you’re doing,” said Koster.
The HHW facility is open from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. every Tuesday, and from 9 a.m. to noon on the first Saturday of each month from April through October.