Local towns pitched in to dispose of waste


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Wayne Green Team disposed of hazardous paint in Laurel. On Sept. 19 the Wayne Green Team will be disposing of electronics from 9 a.m. to noon.

Steele Giles, Staff Writer

It is a rare scene for people to be happy about dumpsters full of discarded chemical containers, but the recycling programs in Laurel, Elgin, and Creighton all had a reason for it: each of the towns hosted a household hazardous waste disposal drive this past weekend.

The drive was put on by the Northeast Nebraska Resource Conservation & Development (RC&D) Council in conjunction with the local communities. It collected materials like car batteries, household cleaners, aerosol cans, pesticides and herbicides.

These materials were collected into large metal drums, some with grids over the top for draining paint or other such fluids into them, others with specialized nozzles for draining aerosol cans quickly.

There was even a machine that ground down light bulbs and extracted the mercury from the powder in a stunningly fast process reminiscent of putting paper through a shredder.

After collection, the waste would be transported to McCook, Neb. where it would be more thoroughly sorted. What could be processed there will, and the rest will be moved to Kimball, Neb. for incineration.

It was the first time the drive had been held in Laurel.

“With some publicity I hope we can raise interest and people will start clearing this stuff out of their basements,” Lathan Asbra, owner of Laurel Recycling, said.

The RC&D puts on three of these drives a year in the spring and fall in an attempt to encourage people to dispose of their hazardous household waste materials in a safe manner.

Additionally, on Sept. 19, the City of Wayne’s Green Team will be sponsoring an electronics recycling drive in the parking lot behind Wayne City Hall (306 N. Pearl St.) from 9 a.m. to noon. The WSC men’s basketball team will be providing volunteer assistance for the third year running.

This drive will be collecting old TV’s, monitors, computers, CD’s, cell phones, printers, cameras and all manner of electronic devices. If you need to plug it in to use it at some point, the drive will make sure that it is safely disposed of. It will not, however, be processing appliances like microwaves, stoves or refrigerators.

There is a recommended donation of $10 per carload and $50 per business load of reasonable size. Staff will prioritize household loads, as electronics recycling is more difficult to come by outside of the business realm. There will be hazardous materials fees levied for electronics containing cathode ray tubes (CRT’s), at $5 per monitor and $10 per TV. As flatscreen televisions lack CRT’s, processing them is free. These fees go to support the City of Wayne’s various waste reduction programs.

The electronics are recycled through the vendor Nebraska Recycles, which processes the devices at their facility in Lincoln. They are broken down into base components (metals and plastics), and the CRT’s are dismantled as much as they can be safely before passing them on to an EPA-approved facility elsewhere in the U.S.

CRT’s have the unique distinction of carrying as much as eight pounds of lead and not insignificant amounts of mercury and phosphorous as well.

Disposing of them in a landfill leads to the glass tubes containing these metals to be broken, allowing rainwater to carry them into the soil. From there it leads to any number of issues with the health of the environment, the wildlife, and people living in the area.

Green Team president Sandy Brown expressed her enthusiasm for the event.

“Your efforts make a difference in protecting our planet,” Brown said.