SCHENECTADY COUNTY -- The county's household hazardous waste collection program collected more 99,000 pounds of hazardous material in 2018, while having a near-record 922 participants, county officials said.
The program, which cost $134,000 last year, is budgeted for $140,000 in 2019, with an expectation it may continue to grow, said county spokesman Joe McQueen.
“This program continues our proactive efforts to make Schenectady County a better place for our families,” said Anthony Jasenski Sr., D-Rotterdam, chairman of the county Legislature. “The Legislature believes it is important that our residents are able to safely dispose of these materials in an environmentally friendly way that minimizes the risk of exposure by our children, pets, neighbors and first responders.”
The county held seven collection events between May and November, to which county residents brought unwanted hazardous chemicals for safe and environmentally sound disposal. The county has provided the program for more than a decade, and use has grown over that period, McQueen said.
The 99,000 pounds collected is more than in most years, but an accurate comparison with other years is difficult because the county last year used a new disposal contractor, McQueen said.
The program initially had a $104,500 budget for 2018, but McQueen said that was increased to $134,000 in the middle of the year because of the volume of material being collected -- but county officials think the expense was worth it. Participating residents pay for a $20 annual permit to bring materials to the drop-offs.
"It is good for the environment, good for the community. It's good for residents, and people want it," McQueen said.
First responders also like such programs because of the potential risks they face when hazardous materials are in a home they are called to for a fire or other incident.
Last year, there were seven collection days; this year, McQueen said the county plans to hold eight. Most are at the county recycling and composting facility in Glenville, but two each year are held at the county public works facility in Rotterdam. This year's collection dates will be announced in March.
County officials said none of the material collected by the program is put into landfills in their hazardous forms. Flammable materials and paint are blended and used for fuel, county officials said, while acids and bases are chemically neutralized before disposal, and pesticides are destroyed at high temperatures in hazardous waste incinerators.
Material accepted includes used or unwanted paints, solvents, household cleaners, lawn and garden chemicals, pool chemicals, photo chemicals and other household chemicals. The program does not accept used motor oil, anti-freeze, electronics, fluorescent bulbs, medical waste, smoke detectors, grill-sized propane cylinders, fire extinguishers, firearms, explosives, ammunition, asbestos or any empty cans or containers.