Got an old TV or computer? City has a new program for you

Brian Cuaron

Oct. 9, 2011 at 5:09 a.m.

Getting rid of an old TV, broken computer or a Ziploc bag full of dead batteries is about to get a bit easier for Juan Velasquez and other Victorians.

The city's household hazardous waste program starts in November, but residents can schedule to have their waste picked up from home starting Saturday, said Jerry James, director of environmental services.

The program would be available to the city's almost 19,500 utility customers, those with a city trash bin.

The program will pick up materials not allowed to go into city trash bins or the landfill, including paint, batteries, TVs, used oil, computer monitors, fluorescent bulbs, antifreeze, poison, garden chemicals, pool chemicals and hypodermic needles.

That is good news for Velasquez, 64, who lives in the 500 block of William Street and fills up a bag full of dead batteries a year. Velasquez said the new program would be more convenient than the city's now-defunct annual waste drop-off program, which he used to dump a broken computer and TV.

The constant availability of the new program also would help residents not able to store materials, Velasquez said. Such residents "sneak things into their waste baskets," he explained.

And the new program would be cheaper than the former drop-off program, which cost about $160,000 per event, James said. Spreading the household hazardous waste program's cost to all utility customers made it affordable.

Similar programs are being rolled out across South Texas with current Waste Management customers, said Lisa Doughty, company community relations manager for South Texas.

Eventually, the plan is to include commercial accounts, such as apartment complexes, into the program, Doughty said. There is no timeline for when that would happen, but the company wanted to get the program running smoothly before it expanded it.

The new program also may extend the life of the city's landfill.

"It's not intended to store plastic from now until the end of time," said James, referring to the time it takes for some unallowable materials to decompose in the landfill.

Landfills were meant to operate as an organic treatment center, James said. Bacteria and worms feed on the materials in the landfill and produce gas, which eventually turns into methane that the city plans to sell.

When organisms don't feed on certain materials, the landfill's life is cut short. James explained that the city has banked on the organisms decomposing the landfill's mounds so that the city may dump more trash on top.

With the program, the waste gets processed in New Braunfels and 80 percent is recycled, Doughty said. Light bulbs go to a lamp plant, e-waste to a recycling facility and paints to a producer that reuses the paints.

"The good news, is none of it is ending up in the landfill," Doughty said.



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