When drains won't do, Juneau's landfill does

Juneau residents sure like to thin paint.

 

If you’re someone who paints, tinkers with cars or takes apart computers, you no longer have to wait to get rid of — or obtain — hazardous chemicals.

Every Friday and Saturday, people can now bring hazardous waste to Commercial Boulevard, where disposal specialists weave through organized piles of brake fluid, paint, lacquer, batteries and televisions, figuring out what to recycle and what to ship south. April 11 was the weekly event’s first day.

Previously, with around seven events a year, said Jim Penor, the city’s solid waste coordinator, more than 500 cars might show up each time. Over the year, the city would collect 500,000 pounds (250 tons) of waste.

“Basically, we were a victim of our own success,” he said.

It might be counterintuitive, but having weekly events will actually save the city money, Penor said. Now that they won’t have such a high volume each time, they can go through what they receive and combine it before shipping it south.

“We’re going to get our bang for our buck,” he said.

He also hopes the weekly schedule will be more convenient for Juneau residents and mean less traffic and wait time.

City employees will be recycling as much as they can. All fry oil and grease is being shipped to General Biodiesel in Seattle, which will recycle it into fuel, Penor said.

The city also has a new exchange program. If someone brings in something reusable — paint thinner, pesticide, lacquer, brake fluid — a person can come by, sign a waiver saying they’re taking it as-is, and have it for free.

The program is open to all “e-waste” — not just computers and televisions, Penor said. People are limited to one computer or TV per visit.

John Lang, who was dropping off a TV, said he appreciates knowing the service is every week.

“We always have taken advantage of this,” he said of Household Hazardous Waste events. “We just got moved into a new house in the fall, and this is the last of various things we discovered in our new house.”

Brandon Sulfridge, who was dropping off a TV and some paint, said he works with pollution, spills, and chemical releases and appreciates the weekly service.

“It’s absolutely helpful,” he said. “It’s a great thing that they do this, especially on a weekly basis. It’s really going to help people ensure proper disposal.”

“You have a small box of stuff, you’re going to Costco, to Home Depot — drop it off,” Penor said. “Once this gets going, I think we’re going to service about 30 cars a day.”

The event is from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. every Friday and Saturday at the CBJ Hazardous Waste Facility at 5436 Commercial Boulevard. On Mondays, businesses that generate small amounts of waste can drop it off by appointment.

For more information about what may or may not be accepted, visit http://www.juneau.org/pubworks/hazardwaste.php.

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