Earth Friendly: Household hazardous waste pickup a reality

Meridith Byrd

By Meridith Byrd

After a full year of hard work and negotiations by the city's Environmental Services staff, a household hazardous waste pickup program is set to kick off next month. The city has contracted with Waste Management to provide a service called At Your Door household hazardous waste collection.

HOW MUCH IS THIS GOING TO COST?

A mere 65 cents will be added to residents' monthly water bills to fund the program. For under $8 a year, every person in Victoria will be able to make a phone call and have their household hazardous waste picked up from their front door. No more waiting for the annual E-waste days, loading bulky TVs into the car or waiting in line to drop off your items.

'BUT I DON'T HAVE ANY HAZARDOUS WASTE IN MY HOUSE'

Are there batteries in your house? A computer? A thermometer? What about paints and cleaners? All of these items are considered household hazardous waste and need to be kept out of our landfill. Others include pool chemicals, antifreeze, solvents, TVs, fluorescent lightbulbs, fertilizers and pesticides. A complete list of items that will be accepted can be found on both the city of Victoria's website victoriatx.org and the city's Environmental Services department page victoriatx.org/environmental/index.asp. Tires and medications are among the items not accepted.

HOW DO I USE THE SERVICE?

Effective immediately, residents can call Waste Management at 1-800-449-7587, where an operator will determine what types and amounts of waste need to be picked up. Waste Management will send a collection kit in the mail with instructions on how to package the items. Set everything outside your door on the collection date and it will be picked up from your home. There is no charge for the phone call or the collection packaging.

WHAT IF I NEED ANOTHER PICKUP?

This service is available year-round, and there is no limit on the number of pickups a resident can schedule.

WHAT HAPPENS TO MY ITEMS ONCE THEY ARE PICKED UP?

Everything will be transported to a processing facility in New Braunfels, where it will be processed according to TCEQ regulations. Some items will be repurposed or resold, and others will be dismantled and recycled.

WHY DO WE NEED THIS SERVICE?

"Ten or 15 years ago, there was not a need for this type of collection," explains Darryl Lesak, assistant director of environmental services. "Now, computers are in most households and newer regulations mean that TVs cannot go into landfills." Lesak continues, "While only one truck was filled at the city's first e-waste collection day, last year residents filled 12 trucks with discarded electronics." He also expressed concerns over the landfill and what it might mean for future generations to have toxic household items dumped there.

IS THIS THE SAME AS CURBSIDE RECYCLING?

No, but curbside recycling is just around the corner. According to Lesak, recycling carts will be distributed to residents in January and curbside recycling collection will begin in February.

HOW DO I FIND OUT MORE ABOUT HOUSEHOLD HAZARDOUS WASTE PICKUP?

A brochure detailing the At Your Door Household Hazardous Waste Pickup service will be included in next month's water bill. Check the city of Victoria website at victoriatx.org or contact the Environmental Services department at 361-485-3230.

Meridith Byrd is a marine biologist and invites readers to contact her at meridith.byrd@gmail.com.