Hemelt: Hazardous collection brings in tons

Published 12:03 am Saturday, July 15, 2017

A record 68 tons of disposables were collected in St. John the Baptist and St. Charles Parishes during this year’s Household Hazardous Materials Collection Day.

This year’s total of 136,511 pounds of material represents 30 tons more of collected items when compared to 2016.

Thank you for participating. If you missed the opportunity, have no fear because the 2018 event will be here before you know it.

The event has been held annually since 1998, providing area households an opportunity to properly dispose or recycle materials that are inappropriate for curbside pickup. Collection Day routinely takes in tons of solvents, poisons, used oil, electronics and corrosives, all of which require special handling to maximize safety and minimize environmental impact.

The effort is helpful to us at L’OBSERVATEUR, as a proper disposal location for our broken or out-of-date electronics.

More than 20 area manufacturers sponsored this year’s event through donations and volunteer workers. Organizers were proud to share 86 percent of all collected material was recycled.

Event statistics tell an interesting story: 38,167 pounds of collected material represented used electronics — more than twice 2016 — and 53,425 pounds was comprised of fuel blending (oil based paint, flammables, aerosols and poisons) — a 242 percent increase over last year’s collections.

More than 9,012 pounds was oil/antifreeze, a bit less than collected in 2016; batteries comprised 6,217 pounds, an 87 percent increase over 2016; and scrap metal accounted for 2,180 pounds.

The two sites this year — one in LaPlace and another in Destrehan — included assistance from 105 volunteers who serviced 624 vehicles drop-offs.

Organizers ask those interested to visit hhmcd.com for additional information and view photographs.

Jan L. Herrington, part of the organizing team, said the plan for 2018 includes getting more volunteer agencies like Green Project and Habitat for Humanity in place to accept and pick up recyclable paint.

For example, Habitat for Humanity left with 154 single-gallon pails and 41 5-gallon containers of latex paint to use in their many community-building efforts even though they were limited by trailer space. They would have taken more had they been capable.

“The Household Hazardous Materials Collection Day industry sponsors are dedicated to this cause and to providing this service,” Herrington said. “2017 marked the 19th consecutive year, even with Hurricanes Katrina and Isaac. The employees at these sponsor companies are proud to provide this service and a great many also live in the River Parishes. Everyone enjoys their time off, but volunteers understand the value of giving back and helping the community.”

Herrington said some volunteers stayed beyond their intended shift, adding everyone just worked harder because 2017’s flow of traffic was unlike any previous year.

According to Herrington, many people use the hotline — hotline@hhmcd.com — to inquire about items they can bring.

“We address this all year, alerting interested residents about upcoming dates and, if possible, where they can properly dispose or recycle items during the rest of the year,” Herrington said.

“We appreciate residents’ concerns and care about the environment and utilizing proper disposal methods.”

Stephen Hemelt is publisher and editor of L’OBSERVATEUR. He can be reached at 985-652-9545 or stephen.hemelt@lobservateur.com.