Hazardous waste disposal in Watauga County will be a less painful affair with the opening of a new facility.
The facility is located at the Watauga County Sanitation and Recycling Center off of U.S. Route 421.
It will accept household cleaners, paint, varnishes, stains, paint thinner or remover, solvents, pesticides, automotive liquids, mercury items, light bulbs, batteries, and more.
Heather Bowen, Watauga County recycling coordinator, said the department was only able to host collection dates twice a year before because they lacked their own facilities to store the materials.
With the new facility, they are able to have monthly collection events from April to October, the first of which was last Thursday.
Bowen said the first collection was a success, drawing 90 cars and a positive response from the community.
“In the past when we’ve had just the twice annual events normally we’d have around 200,” Bowen said. “For our first event having 90 vehicles through that was a pretty successful event and we had a lot of positive feedback from participants, so I think it’s going to be good.”
At the collection cars loaded down with toxic waste are directed up to the facility, where sanitation workers collect and sort the waste to safely deposit it within the facility.
Bowen said that the material they collect the most of is paint and that the facility is home to a veritable rainbow of discarded paints.
Materials then make their way down to Greensboro to a facility owned by ECOFLO.
Bowen said she feels the process will run more smoothly as time goes on.
Disposal is free for residents but not for commercial use.
Bowen said that adding more dates makes it easier for residents to dispose of their waste in a timely manner.
“We’re hoping that by having it so frequently, people will really start taking advantage of that instead of you know hoarding up everything just for the twice a year event,” Bowen said.
Story by Sammy Hanf, News Reporter