Paint is scarce at hazardous waste day

Of all the items collected at last month’s Household Hazardous Waste Collection, there was very little paint, and this change saved the town $3,300, 25% less than what it usually costs for the event.

An extensive marketing campaign, using traditional media, social media, and a household mailing got the word to Wiltonians that paint — “the most abundant waste product at previous collections,” according to a Conservation Commission press release — was no longer being accepted at these events.

According to Dan Berg, commission chairman, each car arriving at the collection was prescreened to be sure no one waited in line just to be turned away.

“We were prepared for the people who didn’t know about the change and tried to minimize the inconvenience,” he said. “We were pleased that this was not a big deal.”

People who purchase paint now pay a surcharge to cover the cost of disposing any leftovers. Mike Conklin, environmental analyst for the town, said the driving force for the statewide change was to save money and make paint disposal easier.

“It makes no sense to pay the disposal surcharge at the point of purchase and then use tax dollars to dispose of the paint at the collection event,” he said. “Residents would be paying for disposal twice.”

Although consumers may dispose of their unused paint at their convenience, local merchants that act as drop-off points were given advance notice to expect an influx of paint disposal. Even with that notice, places like Ring’s End had to turn people away when their receptacles were filled. By contrast, Keogh’s Hardware did not see as much traffic.

Beyond paint, the normal hazardous materials were brought in. Fertilizers, pesticides, and pool chemicals now make up the biggest portion of waste. The most common items brought in thought to be hazardous were alkaline batteries. In fact, alkaline batteries do not contain hazardous material and can be thrown away. By contrast, lithium and rechargeable batteries are hazardous.

The Conservation Commission appreciates the participation of residents and volunteers who helped run the event. For information on paint recycling, visit paintcare.org.