This year’s hazardous waste day proved to be so popular, it left residents calling for more.
More than 700 cars lined up to enter the La Plata County Fairgrounds on Saturday, ready to dump their old paint, motor oil and other household hazardous waste items. Long lines on a hot day made some people “testy,” according to law enforcement. Others suggested the city and county might want to do this more often.
Victoria Herrero-Garcia, a Durango resident, waited for two hours to drop off electronics and propane tanks collected over years of camping, but the wait was worth it, she said.
“I think it should happen more often, instead of once a year. Definitely more (drop-off) locations would be helpful, too,” Herrero-Garcia said. “My daughter is saying more shade. It was hot.”
Hazardous materials, like cleaning products, paint thinners and aerosols, can be toxic, corrosive, highly reactive or flammable – and hard to dispose of properly. If disposed of incorrectly, hazardous waste can pollute ground or surface water and pose a threat to wildlife and human health, according to the city of Durango website.
The city of Durango and La Plata County partnered to host the household hazardous waste event this year. ACTenviro, a hazardous waste disposal company, managed the event with support from PaintCare, a nonprofit that helps with paint recycling.
City staff members did not respond to questions Saturday about the likelihood of additional events.
During the event, vehicles wove from turning lanes on Main Avenue, through the Durango High School parking lot, next to La Plata County Senior Services and into the fairgrounds parking lot.
“People were upset about the wait times. I don’t think they anticipated as many people,” said Sgt. Will Sweetwood with the Durango Police Department. “Overall, I think it was a success. ... It just showed the enthusiasm of Durango residents to properly dispose of their environmentally hazardous materials.”
ACTenviro collection crews gathered waste from people’s cars and sorted it for proper recycling. Both collection crews and residents were wearing face coverings to prevent the spread of the novel coronavirus, said Jared Pollack, a sales manager with ACTenviro.
The event was still going strong about two hours after it was supposed to close. They had expected closer to 500 vehicles at the event, Pollack said.
“The biggest issue, for us, was because we’re still in the COVID pandemic. Everybody and their sister has been working on house and lawn projects,” he said, adding that most vehicles were fully loaded with materials.
“We’re feeling tired with smiles,” Pollack said. “The residents were definitely taken care of.”