Saturday's Household Hazardous Waste collection at Bloomington's Interstate Center was a such a huge success, organizers say they'll work to make it an annual event. Michael Brown, Director of the Ecology Action Center in Normal says 1,951 vehicles dropped off anything from leftover herbicides to perscription drugs. Brown says since a similar event hadn't been held in five years the backlog was huge.
"We had people coming through left and right and the police department and everyone telling us we had maxed out the area and the facility as far as how many cars we could get through there, fitting them in, maximizing the usage of the space."
About 1,600 vehicles crawled through the 2007 event. Brown says no one was turned away Saturday, although he acknowledges many turned back when they saw the long lines. Some estimate the peak wait time at two hours or more.
Brown says buying proper amounts of hazardous materials helps, but choosing non-hazardous items is even better.
"You go to the grocery store, you go to the hardware store, we have green cleaners. We have safer alternatives to a lot of the products we've been using for a while."
Brown says proceeds from a half-marathon and other weekend races plus donations collected during the Interstate Center drop-off event may have brought in more than the $35,000 needed to break even.
"We're optimistic that we should be able to cover the costs of the event, but we'll know that pretty soon here."
He says the overall cost for the event was about $150,000. The 2007 collection was funded mostly by a $100,000 grant from the Illinois Environmental Protection Agency. Brown says costs are high because a private hazardous disposal service must be hired. The one at Saturday's event used about 50 chemists trained in proper hazardous materials handling.
(photo courtesy Ecology Action Center)
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