CSWD’s mission is to provide efficient, economical, and environmentally sound management of solid waste generated by our member towns and cities and their residents and businesses. An important part of that includes the responsible management of hazardous waste. There is no program in New England that provides the level of service that CSWD provides for proper management of household hazardous waste.
We do that primarily through the Environmental Depot, our permanent paint and hazardous waste collection facility in South Burlington, which is open four days a week year-round for Chittenden County residents and businesses. Plus, we provide The Rover mobile collection unit (news on that coming next week!) As far as we know, we’re the only hazardous waste program in the eastern United States that has a mobile collection as well as a permanent year-round facility.
CSWD is committed to trying to find a better use for the material we collect before it goes for disposal. The Local Color program is a great example of how we have taken a waste stream that comes into at our hazardous waste facility and created a marketable product going out rather than landfilling it. We don’t make money on Local Color, but we give it a second life and keep it from entering the waste stream.Typical “HazBin” items
Since the early 1990′s, one of the beloved features of our Environmental Depot has been the HazBin reuse room. Thousands of conscientious Chittenden County residents and businesses visit our facility every year and bring us hazardous products that they can no longer use. We take each product and examine it to determine what category it should go into before being further processed. One of those categories was the HazBin. The Environmental Depot collected 545,607 pounds of paint and hazardous waste in Fiscal Year 2011. We placed 16,409 pounds of that was products we placed in the HazBin for reuse.
However, proper disposal is the core mission of our hazardous waste program, and that’s why we have made the difficult decision to shut down the HazBin at the Environmental Depot.
We have observed over time that the majority of the material in the HazBin was being taken by a handful of individuals who were frequenting the HazBin on a daily basis and routinely carting away large quantities of items. Our fears that the material was being mismanaged by these few individuals were substantiated on several occasions.
The most recent incident occurred a few months ago when a property management company brought us 10 cubic-yard containers full of flammable, combustible and poisonous substances that had been hoarded and left behind by an evicted tenant. CSWD Reuse stickers on the items documented that the individual had obtained these products from the Hazbin. Fortunately this material came back to us (again) for proper management.
CSWD has been concerned about this for years and though we have tried to think of ways to regulate Hazbin use, we do not have the staff for the necessary monitoring. Regretfully, we came to the conclusion that continuing the HazBin invited too much liability and risk for CSWD and the public, and was likely counterproductive to the core mission of our Hazardous Waste Program.
But there is good news! We are in the beginning stages of developing a more formal reuse program where we can provide community businesses and 501(c)(3) organizations with materials that they are seeking. This is still in the early stages of development internally, but we are committed to establishing a better reuse program in the not-too-distant future.
Stay tuned faithful re-use fans! Our staff will have their hands full as we enter our busiest season. But after that, we’ll be putting our enthusiasm and commitment back on the task of creating an even better reuse program for HazBin materials.