Going mobile to manage hazardous waste

How can King County keep dangerous, hazardous materials from finding their way into landfills and the environment? One solution is the Local Hazardous Waste Management Program’s Wastemobile.

Rather than a fleet of vehicles driving to various locations in King County, each “wastemobile” is a temporary tent location set up on the weekends, usually in parking lots of businesses or schools, where small businesses and home owners can bring their hazardous waste to be properly disposed of.

“A little hazardous waste in the environment goes a long way and is very bad for human health and the health of the environment,” Julie Mitchell said. “Any time I can do something to keep the public safe, it is a good feeling.”

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As Hazardous Waste Programs Project Manager, Mitchell is in charge of coordinating between business owners and the hazardous waste program, along with recording the number of residents and businesses who use  the Wastemobiles and how much waste they bring with them.

In 2014, the program served 17,000 customers and collected 600 tons of hazardous waste. With 12 traveling “locations” happening 21 times throughout the year and a set location in Auburn, King County helps all King County residents keep the environment clean.

The program is relatively free, Mitchell said. Paid for by curbside garbage fees, anyone can use any of the locations or wait for a convenient traveling Wastemobile to be set up nearby. The schedule can be found on King County’s Wastemobile website.

Collecting hazardous waste is also easy, as the Wastemobile staff running the locations remove the materials from the cars that go through their drive-through drop off.

“You don’t even have to get out of your car,” Mitchell said. “An employee gets it out of your trunk and off you go.”

Hazardous waste received at the Wastemobiles includes oil based paint, pesticides, fluorescents light tubes with mercury, old gasoline, antifreeze, automotive products and paint thinner. For a complete list, visit the Wastemobile disposal site.