This article was first published in April 2013, but at the height of our collection season we wanted to share it again.
Community recycling collection programs help keep Universal Waste out of landfills, and give residents, businesses and other community members a place to safely and responsibly recycle waste that is otherwise difficult to dispose of through regular trash handling firms. These events are referred to as Spring Clean Ups or Household Hazardous Waste Collection days and are generally held in the spring or fall as large events with many waste vendors; however, some communities establish year-round collection sites, too.
Community Recycling Programs are specifically designed to cater to the community’s waste needs and disposal requirements. Waste streams commonly collected at events can include: Universal & Hazardous Wastes like Fluorescent Lamps, Batteries, Ballasts, Electronics, and Mercury Items. Other common wastes that could be collected are Paints, Chemicals, Solvents, Tires, and Commercial & Household Appliances; even old furniture, mattresses and other items that are difficult to dispose or recycle.
We encourage the following considerations for communities in the planning stages for recycling days:
What is the best location for your event?
- Consider ease of access for cars, large trucks and vehicles with trailers.
- Also consider where the vendors will set up semi-trailers, cubic yard boxes, dumpsters and collection containers.
- Traffic should be able to easily flow in and out of the area safely.
- Events generally require large open areas, easy to access, but away from busy streets with a lot of traffic.
Who will staff the event & how many people are needed?
- Will employees of the vendors be responsible for all of the labor?
- Will employees of the City, County or Business heading up the event be responsible for providing helpers on site?
- Are community groups able to volunteer?
- Be sure that helpers are available for the duration of the event. Keep in mind that shorter hours open might mean heavy traffic flow, and longer hours may subject the helpers to more standing around time.
What time(s) will be best for your event?
- Many communities cater to residents by holding events on weekend days. Saturday mornings are very common.
- Other “events” are set up as permanent collection sites.
What items will be accepted?
- Wastes accepted will be determined by the vendors available at the event.
- Vendors will accept only the special wastes they are licensed to haul and recycle.
- Keep in mind safety and local rules and regulations.
- Example; if you are going to accept hazardous waste such as flammable wastes or chemicals you will need to be sure to have properly trained staff available to work.
Who funds/organizes community collections?
Events can be organized by any City, State, County, Business or Community group. The methods for funding such events can range from fees for each item charged to the person disposing of them and money is collected on site, to a portion or all of the event’s fees being covered by the organizer. Below are some more specifics.
• Cities (Most cities have drop off sites for residential waste, some also organize clean-up day/days)
• States (Sometimes there are grants set up for cities/counties to help fund events/drop off sites)
• Counties (You can usually check with your county for information on drop off sites for different waste streams, some also help fund community recycling events and recycling centers)
• Businesses (Some businesses, usually larger corporations, organize recycling events for their employees, in most cases funded by the business)
• Tax payers (Some cities/counties charge a fee for recycling that helps fund recycling centers/initiatives. This is a tax fee taken out. Some collection events also charge a fee for certain items being dropped off, while other items are free.)
How to start a community collection:
1. Determine a location for the event. Ensure there is plenty of room to set up cubic yard boxes/pallets, trucks, and that traffic will easily move in and out of the collection area.
2. Figure out what hours and which day to have the event and the amount of helpers/volunteers/employees will be required.
3. Contact a local and reputable recycling company. Use resources such as a county website which also usually lists collection dates already in place, or provide a list of disposal resources for all types of waste. If you cannot find these online, call your county and ask for the department that handles environmental services, household hazardous waste, or Universal and special waste recycling. They should be able to direct you to the resources you need.
4. Finally, be sure you are hiring a reputable recycler. Do your own background checking on the company/companies being considered for the event. Ask for current licenses and a list of end facilities or waste processors. You will want to make sure that all the items community members are recycling is being handled properly.
Another point you should consider in a recycling company would be experience. If this is the first event held in your community, you will want a recycling company that has worked a history of collection events to help you through – ask for references and be sure to check into them.
5. Once you have determined your chosen recycling vendor is reputable, other details can be worked out with the company you decide to hire for the event. Your community is on it's way to increasing the amounts of Universal and Hazardous Wastes that are responsibly recycled!