Got Bleach? Annual Drive-Through Chemical Disposal Can Help You Dump It Safely

Apr 30, 2015

A volunteer assesses hazardous materials as they are brought to one of the Pennsylvania Resources Center's drive-through chemical disposals.
Credit Courtesy Photo/ Pennsylvania Resources Center

More than 1,500 Allegheny County residents are expected to drive to North Park next Saturday, not bearing bicycles or picnic baskets, but instead — hazardous waste.

The Pennsylvania Resources Council is beginning its 13th year of household chemical collections with a drive-through waste drop off in North Park from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. on May 2.

People are encouraged to bring any leftover paint, bleach, furniture polish, gasoline, glue, cleaners, car waxes, and even fingernail polish they have in their homes or garages to the park, where trained disposal crews will haul the chemicals away for treatment and disposal.

Justin Stockdale, regional director of the Pennsylvania Resources Council, said some people might be surprised by how many household goods are considered hazardous.

“People ask me, ‘Well, how do I even know what is hazardous and what isn’t?’” Stockdale said. “And my simple comment is, if you wouldn’t drink it, it’s probably hazardous material.”

The North Park collection will be the first of six opportunities for Western Pennsylvanians to dispose of common household chemicals, Stockdale said. There will be drop off locations in Cambria, Washington and Beaver counties, with a full schedule posted on the PRC website.

“Household chemical collections are extremely important,” Stockdale said,” because there’s a lot of things that we use in our homes that frankly have no other way to dispose of them safely.”

The service comes with a $3 charge per gallon, with an average cost per car load of $12, Stockdale said. According to him, the actual cost of removing and treating a car load of chemicals is between $50 and $60. The cost difference is covered by state funding and local donor organizations. Those interested in dropping off chemicals must pay in cash.

Stockdale said the annual chemical collections are intended to discourage people from throwing out hazardous materials with the trash, or worse — dumping them down the drain.

“To be frank, some of this stuff can come out the back of the wastewater treatment plant completely unrecognized,” Stockdale said, “so it’s really important that people understand that down the drain is not a reasonable option. And certainly in a region like Western Pennsylvania where down the drain ultimately means your river.”

Stockdale said the PRC is considering a permanent drop-off system for chemical waste in Allegheny County “that’s available 52 weeks a year,” but there are no concrete plans right now.