Archive for Saturday, May 28, 2011

Household Hazards: Are you disposing of them properly?

Tom Hogan, waste reduction and recycling specialist at the Lawrence/Douglas County Household Hazardous Waste Facility, carts away dropped-off household waste May 20, 2011.

Tom Hogan, waste reduction and recycling specialist at the Lawrence/Douglas County Household Hazardous Waste Facility, carts away dropped-off household waste May 20, 2011.

May 28, 2011


Household Hazardous Waste Facility

Find out what the most common things people bring in to the Lawrence/Douglas County Household Hazardous Waste Facility. Enlarge video

Tom Hogan is thankful every time someone makes an appointment to drop off items at the Lawrence Douglas County Household Hazardous Waste Facility, which is west of 23rd Street and Haskell Avenue.

Hogan and his co-workers collect items people have their house from latex and oil-based paint (lots of it), old bottles of motor oil, aerosol cans and household cleaners to herbicides and pesticides.

“Basically, we try to keep it out of the landfill, which will hopefully keep it out of the water table,” said the waste reduction and recycling specialist for Lawrence’s solid waste division. “Also, we don’t want it going into the sanitation trucks because it poses a hazard when they crush the waste. Both large and small containers can be crushed, and lots of stuff is corrosive or flammable. It can leak out of the truck.”

The center, which makes appointments to accept household waste, collected 172,000 pounds of household hazardous waste from July 1, 2009, to June 30, 2010, the most recent statistics available.

Here’s look at main items collected:


It’s by far the most collected item. Bulk latex paint represented 57 percent, or 98,000 pounds, and oil-based paint was 12 percent, or 20,500 pounds, of the household items collected during the 2010 fiscal year. Acrylics, vinyls and other substances in latex paint can be dangerous if poured down the drain or disposed in the trash, Hogan said.

Motor oil

Oil — about 9,000 pounds were collected in fiscal year 2010 — also poses a danger because it can pollute rivers, lakes, streams, soil and ground water.


The center collects regular and automotive batteries to control the acids used in them. More than 13,000 pounds were collected in 2010.

Paint thinner and gasoline

Hogan said it’s best to take these items to the HHW center because they are highly flammable, and yes, people still turn in old gasoline, even though it’s nearly $4 per gallon at the pump.

Pesticides, herbicides

The chemicals used in these products can be toxic, so it’s best to get them in the proper hands, Hogan said.

Household cleaners

The chemicals in cleaning items can also cause contamination problems.


The product in aerosol cans, including paint, can be hazardous if not disposed correctly. Also the cans are pressurized.

Mercury items, including fluorescent light bulbs

Hogan said the center wants people to bring in more fluorescent light bulbs and thermostats that have mercury thermometers. If mercury spills in your house, it is very difficult to clean up.


SouthSide 2 years, 10 months ago

After reading the article and watching the video, its unclear what they do with the stuff apart from passing on items that can still be used.

What's with the large steel cans? And what do they do with batteries, how do they get recycled and what is the resulting product and what is it used for? And what about old paint and other toxic stuff? What actually happens to it in the recycling process and what is it used for? Is it processed locally or trucked off somewhere?

In any case, I applaud their work; just more info is needed.


Norma Jeane Baker 2 years, 10 months ago

I'm with autie.

No, seriously. If they want a higher drop off rate, they need to make it more accessible. I like nonracist's idea of a morning and afternoon shift.


autie 2 years, 10 months ago

Why all that anyway? Can't you just dump stuff in the curb a let it wash down the street to the storm sewer? That does a pretty good job of getting rid of stuff.


nonracist 2 years, 10 months ago

Why don't they simply have some set hours, maybe 1 early morning and 1 late afternoon, early evening per week for working people? I think people would be more likely to use it since you simply put them in your car and swing by going to or coming from work.


KUGreenMachine 2 years, 10 months ago

It's funny, with a story like this, you'd think they'd provide a link, or give a phone number on how to set up an appointment to dispose you hazardous waste instead of just say, we're happy we're doing it, and this is how much is disposed.


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