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In the News

Saving on Household Hazardous Waste Collections

Friday, February 13, 2015

Costs of conducting household hazardous waste collection (HHWC) events increase with greater participation and more materials collected for disposal. A rising price-tag can cause entities conducting the events to go over budget, but Blanco County used its already available resources, recycling and reuse techniques, and partnerships to keep its 2014 HHWC event under budget.

“It is just very hard to budget for these events, because you just never know what attendance to expect,” said Blanco County Commissioner Paul Granberg.

Blanco County HHWC event budgets are based on historical participation and cost data, but resident participation can double between events. A hundred vehicles one year could be 200 the next which results in more materials for disposal causing a greater cost, Granberg said. Often government entities don’t want to turn people away, because HHWC events offer a proper way of disposing of hazardous materials, which helps prevent illegal dumping.

The county’s Oct. 25, 2014 HHWC event experienced 125 vehicles dropping off 6 tons materials.

To curb costs, Blanco County road and bridge staff and volunteers sorted materials that could be redirected for either recycling or reusing purposes. Paint for instance was one of several materials placed in a reusable area before being disposed by the contractor.

People brought a lot of usable latex paint, Granberg said. Some gallon-paint containers weren’t even opened or only half of the paint was used.

After being set aside, attending residents could take any of the reusable materials they wanted. The remainder of the good paint and the non-usable paint was given to the contractor for recycling or disposal once the collection event finished.

With items like scrap metal, oil and batteries, the county used its already established recycling program to sell the items. Computer parts were also separated from the disposal pile and given to Goodwill, which recycles the electronics.

Blanco County received $500 for selling recyclable oil and batteries. While it may not seem like a lot of money, it was money earned as opposed to a cost.

“(Recycling and reusing) is one way you save,” Granberg said. “The contractor will take everything, but every pound the contractor takes, you pay for it.”

Blanco accepted donations in lieu of charging residents to drop off material. Some people were happy to contribute, because they knew paying for disposal would cost more. 
Donations raised about $2,000, Granberg said.

The county also partnered with other government entities and organizations – Johnson City, city of Blanco, city of Round Mountain, Blanco Pedernales Underground Water Conservation District and Keep Blanco Beautiful – to help fund the event and make it a county wide endeavor.

Granberg attributed a routine schedule for HHWC and other waste collection events to staying under budget, too. Every year a bulk item collection event takes place, allowing the county HHWC events to just collect harmful materials. Focusing just on household hazardous materials limits excess materials disposed by the contractor and saves time sorting materials. The county also strives to have an HHWC event every three years so storage times between collections aren’t too long. Shorter times between events allows for less accumulation of materials.

Blanco County is one of seven HHWC events funded through CAPCOG’s Fiscal Year 2014-2015 Solid Waste Grant cycle. It was allocated $10,000 in grant monies and budgeted $23,200 for the event. The cost of the event was almost $22,600.

> Read more about CAPCOG's Solid Waste Planning Program.

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