In the spring and the fall for the last 15 years, Bay County, Fla. has opened its gates to residents, allowing free disposal for bulky waste on its Waste Amnesty Days. For two days during each event,
The events are well attended and participation by county residents is high, says Ogborn. This year, over the two days, 1,070 vehicles came and went and several thousand visitors attended.
The county collected approximately 420 amnesty tons—387 tons of waste, 34 tons of yard waste and five pallets of computers, over the two-day event.
Ogborn says residents have dropped off everything imaginable over the years.
“We get a lot of yard debris, appliances and household furniture. We have taken everything from boats to mobile homes,” he says.
The amnesty days serve multiple purposes including beautifying the county and cutting down on illegal dumping; says Bay County Solid Waste Manager Glenn Ogborn.
“It also gives our citizens and opportunity to clean up debris and other materials from their yards that they may have otherwise hesitated to do,” Ogborn says. “This improves the overall aesthetics of our communities. One of the main intents of our amnesty days is to provide a safe disposal outlet for household hazardous waste. This keeps these materials out of the waste stream, out of our waste water system and ultimately out of our ground waters.
This year in particular, says Ogborn, there was an additional reason—safety.
“This year, because of the presence of the Zika virus within our state, we have stressed the disposal of waste tires,” he explains.
Discarded tires are an issue in many communities across the country and have a way of sticking around on residential properties. Residents unable or uninclined to pay a fee to properly dispose of the tires, sometimes simply keep them. The scrap tires aren’t only unsightly, but they sometimes cause a health risk when mosquitos and other pests take up residence in them. They can also be a safety risk when left for long periods of time, discarded tires can leach toxic chemicals, such as zinc, heavy metals and chemicals into ground and surface waters.
The county has had a waste tire amnesty in place for a month in a half. Including the 838 tires it took in during amnesty weekend, the county has taken in 2,900 tires from residents under some form of amnesty.
Landfilling is not an option, and solid waste haulers won’t collect tires along trash routes.
To help residents in Adams and Clermont counties in Ohio, the Adams Clermont Solid Waste District offers Tire Amnesty Days to rid local residences of scrap tires. The tires are then recycled into door mats, safety mulch, rubberized asphalt, railroad ties and tire derived fuel.
These events help clean up scrap tires in the community, excluding those from businesses and individuals who generate tires as part of their normal course of business.
These free waste disposal days are used by communities across the country to clean up neighborhoods and give residents the opportunity to properly dispose of not only tires, but bulky and hazardous wastes, as well.
In Covington, Ky., where Cincinnati-based Rumpke Waste & Recycling handles collection, instead of residents dropping off their bulky waste at landfill or transfer stations during amnesty days, Rumpke picks up the discarded items at the curb, free of charge, during regularly scheduled waste pickup during Amnesty Weeks.
During the course of the year, Covington residents are given 12 bulky item stickers for larger items at the curb, says Rumpke Corporate Communications Supervisor, Molly Yeager Broadwater. One sticker is used for one large item or six bags of garbage in addition to the waste cart. Since the city's trash program limits residents to cart contents only, items placed outside of the trash cart are not collected unless a large-item sticker provided by the city is placed on the material. The city uses the stickers to clean up neighborhoods and improve recycling.
During its amnesty week, residents put out extra trash—yard waste, furniture, appliances and household waste—along with the trash bin. The city, she says, strategically picked dates to help with spring clean-ups, fall leaves and excess trash around the holidays.
These events also allow residents to discard of other items that fit the bill—without paying additional fees.