Residents of Montebello and the surrounding area were able to free up space in their garage this weekend by getting rid of old TVs and computers that no longer work at a free Los Angeles County Household Hazardous Waste and E-Waste Roundup.
The event gave area residents the opportunity to get rid of household hazardous waste like bug spray, chlorine bleach, nail polish, hair spray and motor oil and E-waste like old cell phones, computers, TVs and microwaves.
“What we’re doing is taking things that don’t belong in landfills anymore because they’re hazardous, they’re toxic to the environment,” Martin Zemlock Jr., a Supervising Engineering Technician for the Solid Waste Management Department at the County Sanitation District of Los Angeles County, said. “And giving people a free way to get rid of them.”
Zemlock said it is illegal to improperly discharge of hazardous material or throw it in the trash, which is not environmentally safe. It is also illegal to transport more than 15 gallons or 125 pounds of household hazardous waste per trip to a collection center. People caught disposing of this material improperly can be heavily fined, said Zemlock.
“Very rarely are you going to get caught because usually we’re talking small stuff, you threw away a bottle of oil, a bottle of drain cleaner something like that,” Zemlock said. “But you should still be conscientious enough to say ‘hey this is toxic to the environment I don’t need to do it.’”
John Hicks had previously attended mobile collection events before taking an old printer to the event this week. He attends these events to ensure he does not break the law.
“If it wasn’t for this [event], this stuff would end up in my trash someplace,” Hicks said. “Either you’re going to be a good citizen or you’re not.”
The hazardous waste roundups are mobile events, going from community to community in hopes of educating local residents about what items are considered hazardous waste.
“As the rules and laws increase, there’s more stuff that can’t go to the landfill, that’s why we put these events together, so people can throw stuff out,” said Zemlock.
Evelyn Yoshimi took computers, printers, a microwave, paint and some medical items to the event to clean up her garage.
“I don’t want to throw it into the trash where it would be exposed to the environment, this is a safer way to dispose of things,” Yoshimi said. “I have no use for [the E-waste items] in fact some of them didn’t work.”
Zemlock told EGP that the items residents bring changes, but noted that E-waste has become popular recently.
“It varies from paints to electronics to oil,” Zemlock said. “Anywhere from paint to fertilizers, to things you would find under your sink that have been there forever. Electronic waste has been more of a recent thing but we have been receiving them.”
Zemlock pointed out that the items people dispose of can be demographically based.
“In the past there has been a lot of the pesticides, drain cleaners, garden products, and oil,” Zemlock said. “Specially in the neighborhoods like this area that like to do their own home maintenance and their own car maintenance.”
Residents that still need to get rid of any hazardous or E-Waste can go to any of the weekly mobile collection events or to a permanent collection center.
“They are mostly L.A. sites but nobody really cares. As long as you are getting the waste there, that’s all that’s going to matter,” said Zemlock.
For more information on what is considered hazardous waste or to get the addresses to your nearest collection center, visit www.cleanla.com or call 1(800) CLEAN-LA.