Free hazardous item drop-off event succeeds in Compton
COMPTON—Residents who have spent the last year accumulating old paint cans, cell phones, burnt-out fluorescent light tubes and car batteries loaded up their cars and trucks and disposed of the items safely at the annual Los Angeles County Household Hazardous and Electronic Waste Collection program in the Hub City on Saturday, July 7.
More than 500 people dropped by the group’s mobile collection site at Compton Airport and got rid of their items for free.
“This is one of the smaller collection events we sponsor,” Los Angeles County Environmental Programs Project Administrator Cathy Castro said. “We collect the most items at the Arcadia and Santa Clarita collection events, usually between 1,200 and 1,500 items each time we visit.”
The Environmental Programs Division advises the Board of Supervisors on solid waste management concerns, while reducing the dependence on landfills in Los Angeles County. Its goal is surpassing the 50 percent recycle mandate of all generated waste materials through reducing, reusing and recycling, which creates a safe, clean, and sustainable environment.
“Without the program residents would dump hazardous items in alleys, streets and dumpsters, which is illegal,” Castro said. “Safety issues occur when someone picks up an item and mishandles it.”
Residents dropping items off enjoyed curb service the entire time.
“Recycle representatives greet the cars, and determine what they have at the entrance,” Castro said. “If it is something hazardous, like oil, the employee gives them a card before advancing. They just move forward if it is a low-risk item.”
Participants receive a survey from the Los Angeles County checkpoint, she said, then proceed to the drop-off area.
“The service perpetuates from the feedback we receive,” Castro said. “It gives us information on where the participant comes from and how often they utilize the drop-off, along with an overall rating. We improve the program each year based on those comments.”
Workers in the “hot zone” have first aid stations available, and they wear safety clothing.
“The contractor staff opens the doors and removes the hazardous items. Nobody but certified employees handle the items in that area.”
Recycle workers have a safety and traffic meeting before the event takes place.
“Organization keeps people out of danger,” Castro said.
The mobile drop-off center visits a different city each week.
“Our next stop is in La Puente and La Habra Heights on Saturday, July 14,” Castro said. “We will be in Norwalk on Saturday, July 21.”
Residents missing the Compton event can also drop off their hazardous items at one of the group’s permanent locations in Los Angeles, Playa Del Rey, San Pedro, Palmdale, Sun Valley or West Los Angeles .
The collection program, like many services in Los Angeles, has suffered cutbacks because of budget difficulties, Castro said, but the service moves forward.
“We will meet the need as long as people keep coming,” she said. “This is a great program and local residents appreciate its convenience.”
Workers taking part in the event were treated to a barbecue lunch at the site.
“No one leaves,” Castro said.
For more information about the hazardous and electronic waste collection program, and a complete list of items eligible for drop-off, call Clean LA at 888- 253-2652, or visit CleanLA.com.