FAIRMONT - Starting today, folks can drop off their solid waste in a safe and legal way.
"Summer is the time to do this; we're not open in the winter," said Billeye Rabbe, solid waste coordinator for Faribault and Martin counties. "It's an important aspect of keeping a household clean and in order."
The solid waste collection events include household hazardous waste every Wednesday through September, from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. at Prairieland in Truman. The collection is free.
Items can include, but aren't limited to, aerosol cans that aren't empty, aluminum cleaners, ammonia-based cleaners, household insect spray, degreasers, floor care products, furniture polish, metal polish with solvent, oven cleaner, paint (latex or oil) and window cleaner.
"If it says 'danger,' 'poison,' 'caution,' or 'warning,' you can't dispose of it in the trash," Rabbe said.
If the product is released from the container, which could happen in a packer or garbage truck, it can be dangerous, "so they have to be handled differently," Rabbe said. "They're worried about it getting into land or groundwater. That's why it needs to be taken out of the garbage stream."
Sometimes, whether something is deemed hazardous is determined by how much of a product remains in a container, or if it's solid or liquid. For instance, an empty aerosol can should be placed in the regular garbage.
"If it's liquid paint, then it needs to come to the HHW collection," Rabbe said.
Rabbe noted that the solid waste office will still take ag chemicals from farmers at no cost.
"We're supplemented by the Minnesota Department of Agriculture," she said.
Rabbe says she hears some questions frequently. One involves the number of items someone can bring. Those with many items probably should give Rabbe a call beforehand.
"We're pretty busy on Wednesdays, so we might want to make special arrangements for another day," she said.
Another thing people want to know is whether they should pour similar products, like paint, into one container?
"Absolutely not," Rabbe emphasized.
The people who handle the products need to see each label. Just because it is all paint doesn't mean it can all be treated the same.
The household hazardous waste collections aren't the only ones; sanitation companies will accept appliances, electronics, furniture and garbage during business hours. Call them for details.
Rabbe also will host specific days in most communities in the two counties, beginning with a collection for Delavan on Tuesday.
"The first big day is May 11 in Kiester," she said.
Elmore's is May 16. For a complete list, contact Rabbe at (507) 238-3115 or (888) 783-3110.
She also mentioned that Blue Earth Chamber of Commerce is organizing a citywide cleanup from 9 a.m. to noon Saturday at the Faribault County Fairgrounds. Household waste is free; there is a charge for other items. For more information, call Cindy Lyon at (507) 526-2916.
Appliances such as refrigerators, freezers, dehumidifers, stoves and dishwashers cannot go in the regular garbage.
"It's illegal to dispose of anything with a cathode ray tube in the garbage," Rabbe said.
"Most parts are recyclable; every part of the computer is recyclable," Rabbe said. "We make sure they go to licensed recyclers."
Fairmont's big collection day is June 11, Rabbe noted. It's one of the few places that tires will be accepted.
"If you can't make it, call me and we'll work something out [on the tires]," she said.
One of the last opportunities will be the Martin County cleanup Sept. 18, but Rabbe hopes folks won't wait that long.
"Honestly, I do make lots of arrangements for a lot of people in between times," Rabbe said. "If you have a question, don't be afraid to call."