County Renews Hazardous-Waste Program

Highland Park Council are looking for ways to make disposal easier. (Photo: Jaquelin Torres)

A trip to the Dallas County Home Chemical Collection Center doesn’t involve getting out of the car.

Motorists show a driver’s license and utility bill to verify they live in a participating city and fill out a short form. Center workers unload the batteries, paints, oils, and other hazardous items that residents shouldn’t put out for regular trash service.

“Everybody just brings everything to us, and we try to accommodate them as best we can,” operations manager Earle Blakney said.

The county’s Household Hazardous Waste Program serves 16 participating cities, including Dallas, as well as unincorporated areas of the county, and was recently renewed for another five years.

The agreement covers Oct. 1 through Sept. 30, 2018, followed by four one-year options, because cities approve their budgets annually, said Rick Loessberg, the county’s director of planning and development.

The budget for this year’s program is $1.77 million, which accounts for $679,353 in operating costs, $910,000 disposal, and $93,000 capital.

Dallas will pay $381,000 toward the capital and operating costs plus a share of disposal based on residents’ participation.

In 2016, Dallas residents dropped off hazardous household waste 13,684 times, a frequency that averaged about 1 percent of the population. Most of the drop-offs were made at the center, but the figures include 156 made during special events held around the county.

Center employees unload and then sort household chemicals and other hazardous waste. (Photo: Jaquelin Torres)

The county doesn’t track participation by zip code, but Loessberg recognizes that with one drop-off location to serve 900 square miles, convenience does play a role.

Participation rates can run from less than half a percent (south Dallas) to nearly 3 percent (Richardson).

The program began in 1994 with a series of one-day collection events serving 11 cities and about 5,000 residents a year. With the opening of the collection center on Plano Road, the program has grown to process more than 2 million pounds of materials and serve more than 26,000 participants annually, according to county records.

At the center, employees sort the items dropped off and make sure chemicals that could be dangerous to store next to one another are kept apart, Blakney said. Nearly everything can be recycled, he added.

Loessberg said the program benefits the communities by getting dangerous chemicals out of homes and keeping them from being poured down drains or alleys or buried in landfills, which are expensive to maintain and operate and difficult to establish.

“Every cubic foot of landfill space is precious,” he said.


MORE INFORMATION:

Where: 11234 Plano Road, Dallas

Hours: 9am – 7:30pm Tues, 8:30am – 5pm, Wed and Thurs,
9am – 3pm, second and fourth Sat

Questions: Call 214.553.1764 or visitdallascounty.org

William Taylor

William Taylor, editor of Park Cities People and Preston Hollow People, shares a name and a birthday with his dad and a love for community journalism with his colleagues at People Newspapers. He joined the staff in 2016 after more than 25 years working for daily newspapers in such places as Alexandria, Louisiana; Baton Rouge; McKinney; San Angelo; and Sherman, though not in anywhere near that order. A city manager once told him that “city government is the best government” because of its potential to improve the lives of its residents. William still enjoys covering municipal government and many other topics. Follow him on Twitter @Seminarydropout. He apologizes in advance to the Joneses for any angry Tweets that might slip out about the Dallas Cowboys during the NFL season. You also can reach him at [email protected]. For the latest news, click here to sign up for our newsletter.

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