Household hazardous waste facility open for season

Thursday, April 2, 2015
Denny Henrich, day manager of the Spencer household hazardous waste facility, sorts the different chemicals that come to the Northern Plains Regional Collection Center so they can be transported safely. Since the household hazardous waste facility opened in 2013, 62,000 pounds of hazardous waste has been diverted from the landfill. (Photo by Hanna Russmann)

The Northern Plains Regional Collection Center for household hazardous waste is open for the season. This is the beginning of the third year that the household hazardous waste facility located north of the Spencer transfer station has been open.

According to Craig Poulsen, Northern Plains Regional Collection Center operations manager, many still don't know about the facility, which is open Monday through Friday from 9 a.m. to noon and every third Saturday of the month.

"We are free to the residents of Spencer and rural Clay County," Poulsen said. "Those who live within the city limits of another Clay County town have to take their hazardous waste to Sheldon."

He added, "We ask that people call ahead to make appointments and let us know what they are bringing, but we aren't going to turn away anyone who doesn't make an appointment."

Household hazardous waste includes oil-based paints, pesticides, herbicides, poisons such as rat poison and tar.

"Pretty much anything that would be considered toxic we will take it," Poulsen said. "Used batteries, fluorescent light bulbs and antifreeze are some of the other things we take."

"We also take latex paint, but we charge $1 per pound because we have to dry it out before it can be disposed of," Denny Henrich, day manager of the household hazardous waste facility explained.

Since opening in 2012, the household hazardous waste facility has diverted 62,000 pounds of hazardous waste from the landfill. Approximately 1,000 people use the facility regularly.

"All the hazardous waste is sorted here by Denny, and then, it is taken by licensed disposal contractors," Poulsen explained. "They recycle what can be recycled such as used oil and anything flammable that goes into a fuel blending process to be reused. Everything that can't be recycled is disposed of properly so it doesn't end up in a landfill."

Iowa has one of the most "aggressive" household hazardous waste programs of all 50 states, collecting 6.9 million pounds of household hazardous waste in 2013.

"Basically this keeps those toxic things from getting into our water supply," Poulsen explained. "Anything that goes into a landfill can end up in the water supply, even though landfills have liners and things like that, water still comes out of our landfills and ends up at our water treatment plants. We want to make sure that water is as clean as possible before it gets there."

"Some chemicals and stuff you just don't want mixing together like acids and oxidizers," Henrich said. "You could get a bad reaction when certain things mix and it could be harmful. You can't keep those things from mixing in a garbage truck or a landfill."

"Another big thing is keeping children safe by getting those chemicals out of your house," Poulsen added.

Not everything that comes to the household hazardous waste facility is disposed. Some items that come to the facility have been hardly used or not used at all.

"If I find something someone has brought that is still good and can be used again, it goes to the 'Swap Shop,'" Henrich explained. "People who come here can take a look and if they find something they can use, like a cleaning product or paint, they can take it for free."

"The 'Swap Shop' really saves on our disposal costs," Poulsen said.

For more information about the household hazardous waste facility and what types of waste are accepted there, call Henrich or Poulsen at 580-7277.

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