Hazardous Waste Collection Day

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The Town of Fort Myers Beach will host its first Household Chemical Waste Collection Event at the Bay Oaks Recreational Center at 2731 Oak Street on Wednesday, October 16, from 9 a.m. to Noon. Representatives from Lee County Solid Waste will collect leftover paints, cleaners, herbicides, pesticides, automobile fluids, pool chemicals, electronics and related items from island residents, then provide safe reuse or disposal. While the program is free, please pre-schedule if possible, by calling Lee County Solid Waste at 239-533-8000 by Tuesday afternoon, October 15.

Council member Rexann Hosafros suggested that the Town host a “Hazardous Chemical Waste Collection Event” several months ago, then followed through with Town Staff to ensure it would occur. “Actually, Mayor Anita Cereceda claims she brought up the idea at some point over the previous two years, when I was off Council,” she explained with a sly laugh, “but it was me for sure this time! Once it was apparent there was support to have a ‘Household Chemical Waste Collection Event,’ I stayed on it until we had a firm date, as that is my nature – I am like a dog with a bone – GRRR!”

“I accumulated a bunch of stuff around our own house, and I don’t think we are all that different from anyone else. In fact, I mentioned the idea to a neighbor and they took me back to their storage shed and said, ‘Look!’ It was full of stuff they just stuck back there, without any clue about what to do with it. I then shared the idea on my Facebook Page and it got a greater reaction than anything else I ever posted, so I hope that means that all those people will show up with their stuff for safe disposal.” Everyone has some leftover paint that ends us sitting in a garage or shed. This is a chance to get rid of it the right way.

Hosafros cautioned, however, that there is a reason why this is called a “Hazardous Chemical Waste Collection Event.” “These materials not only accumulate but they are also dangerous, especially as a fire hazard, so you really do not want to keep them around your home. After a while, you tend to forget that you have all these chemicals somewhere in your house or garage or storage shed, but you really should take the proper steps to get rid of them, and the Town wants to help make that easy to do.”

Hosafros has a simple goal for this first Hazardous Waste Collection Event: “That it is successful enough to convince the Town to repeat it, with the next one hopefully sometime next spring. Remember that a lot of our seasonal residents are still not even here yet from up north, as I want them to have the opportunity as well. Even if you can’t make the initial October 16 collection day, please call Town Hall at 239-765-0202 and say that you would like us to host more, as I need the support of our citizens to make this happen again. I suspect that there is a lot of hazardous waste on our little island, so please don’t procrastinate and do this!”

Convenient For Beach Residents

“This will be our very first Collection Event on Fort Myers Beach,” enthusiastically reported Molly Schweers, Outreach & Education Coordinator for Lee County Solid Waste. “We have done these in other areas but this will be so convenient for beach residents. We have a brand new outfitted Box Truck that permits us to take our show on the road, to gather up all these household chemicals, so we are also pretty excited about that, meaning that the Fort Myers Beach program will be its very first trial run, so that makes you guys the guinea pigs!”

Schweers said that Lee County Solid Waste asks folks to call in advance “simply to give us an idea of how many people to expect…If, however, you don’t learn about the Collection Day until the evening before or that morning, c’mon out! We are basically a drive-through service, where all you have to do is load up everything into your trunk and drive over to Bay Oaks, and we will take everything out for you.”

She explained, “Most people are looking to safely get rid of household paints, although if what you have is completely dried out, that requires no special disposal – just throw that out in your regular trash. What we collect is paint still in its liquid form, along with other things like motor oil, electronics, pesticides, herbicides and household items you do not want to end up in our local waters. People who are moving or who had a family member pass away and are cleaning out their house find this a very convenient service.”

For those unable to participate on October 16, Lee County Topaz Court Solid Waste Annex at 6441 Topaz Court, Fort Myers, off Metro Parkway, accepts hazardous waste and is open 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. weekdays  and the first Saturday of the month except holidays from 8 a.m. to noon. Items accepted there are paints and paint thinners, antifreeze, batteries, cleaners, fluorescent bulbs, fire extinguishers, gasoline, propane tanks, law & garden chemicals. For a full list visit leegov.com/solidwaste

The facility hires recycling companies that prepare donations for reuse. Just two doors down at 6421 Topaz Ct, is the Reuse Center where  you can pick up at no charge still useable paint, cleaners, herbicides and pesticides, that have been dropped off by other residents.

Schweers said the county tracks how they handle hazardous waste. “As of last December, we put 15 tons of material back into use, while not having to pay to dispose of any of it, so that is a good thing!”