Changing the Way We Handle Hazardous Waste, Making it a Recycle Win Win

Our Take

We all know what a pain it can be to get rid of Hazardous waste material from our homes. Sure, most counties have at least one dump location that will accept them, but that means you have to get there. The materials sit in your basement or garage for months on end, until you wonder if you can get away with just throwing them. Don’t do it. Take the trip and dispose of them properly. Did you ever think about what happens to those materials after they are dropped off. Just think about how much hazardous waste that dump receives every month and they need to dispose of it in a way that won’t hurt the environment. In Fairfax, VA they have started a recycling program so that hazardous waste is no longer considered waste and instead of being discarded is being reused. Not only does it save the county money, it also saves the environment. A real win, win that could be duplicated around the country. For example, instead of burning the latex paint that is disposed of, new and gently used cans are donated to Habitat for Humanity. All of that old cooking oil that you throw out or throw down the drain (which is a big no no), is being sent to companies that can turn it into biodiesel. What about propane canisters? Many of them come in with propane still in that. What a shame it would be to waste it all. It is amazing what can be done to turn hazardous waste into useful materials. It makes you wonder what they will come up with next.

Daniel Brooks’s knack for finding avenues to recycle and reuse household waste materials is paying dividends for Fairfax County. Brooks, who manages the county’s household hazardous waste program, has tracked down businesses that accept materials such as latex paint, used cooking oil and mercury thermostats. This generates revenue for the county and keeps the materials from reentering the environment, he said.

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