Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

City Targets Household Toxic Waste Mobile Collection Sites, School Program Studied

Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

City Targets Household Toxic Waste Mobile Collection Sites, School Program Studied

Article excerpt

Dismayed by Jacksonville's poor record for household hazardous waste disposal, City Councilwoman Elaine Brown has convinced City Hall to offer mobile collection sites in several city neighborhoods.

And, using a new campaign known as "Gunk Busters," Brown hopes to raise public awareness of the problem, starting with programs for school-age children.

"People don't know where to take this stuff or what they should be doing with it," said Brown, who chairs the council's committee for transportation and environmental matters. "We want to educate people and make it more convenient."

Household hazardous waste includes things such as used oil, yard chemicals, paint thinners, batteries, poisons and photographic material, which state and federal rules say must be disposed of outside regular landfills. City studies show less than 2 percent of such waste is being handled properly.

Instead, much of it is going to the landfill, Brown noted, most typically after people put it in with their everyday garbage. Even worse, she said, is when people improvise other disposal locations, such as backyard holes or the city's streams and wooded areas, where the harmful pollutants can leach into the soil and groundwater.

"We find stuff in there all the time," Brown said.

The city offers a permanent collection site on Commonwealth Avenue, where people can drop off hazardous materials at no cost. Its hours have been expanded recently, but it still isn't a very convenient location for residents of the Southside, the Northside, the Beaches or the far Westside.

To experiment with the idea of bringing collection sites closer to residents, city officials tested mobile collection earlier this month with a one-day event at the Trail Ridge landfill on the Westside. Another collection at a different location is expected before the end of the year, Brown said, with more to follow -- one in each of the 14 council districts in the coming year.

Janice Eggleton Davis, director of the city's solid waste department, welcomed the opportunity to test mobile collections citywide. Since 1997, the division has been tracking where people who use the permanent site live to get an idea of where the needs are, and the test program will accelerate that work. …

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