(Stillwater, OK) — The City of Stillwater is once again offering residents an opportunity to protect the environment while getting rid of items they no longer need around the house.
On Oct. 29, the Waste Management Department will be holding its bi-annual Household Hazardous Waste Collection, but with a bonus. In addition to taking chemicals like herbicides and pesticides, pool chemicals, lawn care products, fuels, oil-based paints and craft or hobby supplies, residents will be able to drop off electronic items for recycling.
Consumer electronics are normally accepted at the Convenience Collection Center for a fee ranging from $5-$25 per item because the city must pay to get rid of e-waste. But thanks to a grant from the Department of Environmental Quality, residents can take advantage of free e-waste collection during the Oct. 29 event, Waste Management Director Matt Faulkner said. It’s the first time in about 10 years the city has been able to offer this service free of charge.
The Convenience Collection Center at 807 S. Perkins Road will be open 8 a.m. – 1 p.m. that day to accept regular trash and recycling in addition to the specialized chemical and electronics collection.
This event is strictly for residential use, so limits could be placed on the amount of certain items like TVs and computer monitors accepted from each person, Faulkner said. People should be prepared to show something like a utility bill for proof of residence and as usual, trailers will not be allowed.
Disposing of household, lawn and garden chemicals properly is important because pesticides, herbicides and other substances can contaminate the soil and make their way through the city’s storm water or waste water systems to creeks, rivers and other bodies of water, Environmental Programs Manager Chris Franks said. They are toxic to plants and animals and can kill birds, fish and beneficial insects.
Concerns about water pollution initially prompted the City of Stillwater to begin holding collection events for household hazardous waste in the late 1990s, Franks said.
Electronics present their own risks if they aren’t handled properly because they contain heavy metals and dangerous substances like mercury, lead and arsenic that can wind up in the soil or water if they are discarded or sent to a landfill.
The process of recycling electronic waste is time-consuming and labor-intensive and international markets for the materials contained in consumer electronics are variable. But Traci Phillips, President/CEO of Natural Evolution, Inc., the Tulsa-based company working with the city to recycle e-waste collected at this event, said all the items her company takes are processed and handled domestically.
Her company works with many municipalities on e-waste events but few are free, she said. Television sets, including old-style tube TVs, bulky consoles and projection TVs still show up at many of them. Laptops are another common item, as are monitors and desktop computers. They also see things like old modems, telephones and small household appliances. Then there is always the box of miscellaneous cables fished out of the junk drawer.
She says recycling the materials that go into the electronics most of us use every day is important not only because it helps protect our soil and water from contamination, but also because it conserves resources.
“All of the materials can be reused, so why not?” Phillips said.
Residents can find a full list of the items being accepted during the Household Hazardous Waste and E-waste Collection event at stillwater.org/HHW.