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Hallowed ground

Hallowed ground

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    Spokane Public Works

    “Grab tables” or areas where residents can “trade” various items help reduce the amount of HHW that a solid waste department must incinerate or dispose of.

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    PUBLIC WORKS

    What types of HHW do you collect?Hazardous waste takes many forms. Public works and water treatment departments will need to closely monitor the increase in pharmaceutical waste, since most old pills and other drugs are generally tossed in the toilet or down the drain.

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    PUBLIC WORKS

    How do you collect HHW?Dedicated drop-off sites and special scheduled events rank the highest among ways for constituents to drop off HHW.

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    SPSA

    Designated facilities like this one maintained by the Southeastern Public Service Authority allow residents to drop off waste when it's convenient for them.

This general emphasis on long-term commitment to our environment as a whole was echoed by many people in the solid waste industry. Some departments opt to add HHW and recycling programs as part of their environmental management systems, while others do it to cut costs on tipping fees.

Flint helped implement the curbside recycling program in the Spokane area that serves 400,000 people. His recommendation for eliminating HHW is to try to “use it all up. We have a grab table where people can bring in partially used items and trade them for something else,” he said.

This philosophy of truly recycling HHW items is just one way to help reduce the amount of waste dumped into landfills. Another tactic is completely integrating municipal solid waste collection. “HHW is just one component of waste,” said Flint. “We need to educate the public about all the components.”

Flint also is chair of the American Public Works Association's solid waste and management committee. He said the committee's position is to fully integrate HHW systems as part of an entire solid waste program.

BEHIND THE DOLLAR SIGNS

The cost of starting a HHW program seems daunting to the survey respondents who said it was too expensive (11.7%). Of those respondents who have a HHW program in place, 57.6% said that city funds pay for the programs. Next in line were state funds, at 16.9%.

But where do you find the money to run such a program? Looking in your own backyard can be a good start. “Our county provides and pays for our HHW program,” said Donald Freedland, public works director/emergency management coordinator in Port St. Lucie, Fla. In his area, the program was started by the county, which also runs the landfill. In some situations, teaming with other municipalities or counties can share the cost among multiple jurisdictions.

Freedland recommends having private sponsors “chip in” for a single event or for an entire program. And in some cases, national or local organizations will help set up or pay for an event. Turning to the state for grants may pay for a program. “Astate grant initially paid for 100% of our HHW program in 1990,” said Flint. Still others are funded by tipping fees or other user fees.

Public-private partnerships may be an option as well. “Our facility in the Palmdale, Calif., area is located at our Palmdale Landfill and Recycling Center,” said Eric Rose, the director of communications for the western group of Waste Management Inc. “This new (built in 2005) permanent HHW facility owes its success to the unique public-private partnership between the California Integrated Waste Management Board, the cities of Palmdale and Lancaster, Waste Management of the Antelope Valley, and the county of Los Angeles.”