Preserving the environment and protecting
the public health and safety as well as the health and safety of
everyone involved in the waste disposal chain is a job the SWA takes
seriously. Managing Palm Beach County’s waste is the SWA’s job and
everything we do - from waste reduction efforts to transporting to
processing to final disposal of waste - is designed to minimize the
impact the waste we create has on our local environment.
But some wastes are worse than others.
Nearly every home and small business has some type of chemical product
that can be hazardous to your family, coworkers, solid waste workers and
facilities, and the environment if not used, stored, and disposed of
properly. That’s why we have an entire staff devoted solely to
collecting these products in order to keep them out of the garbage,
protect the people and facilities who handle the garbage, and protect
Most of us recognize that household
hazardous waste (HHW), materials like used oil, pesticides, and
flammable liquids, shouldn’t be put in the garbage. However, materials
such as fluorescent lamps, rechargeable batteries and electronics also
contain toxic metals like mercury and cadmium that require proper
disposal, and other chemicals are flammable, corrosive, reactive or
toxic when mixed in the trash.
The SWA collects these materials, more
than 1.7 million pounds last year, through our HHW facilities as we have
for more than 15 years. There is no fee for residents and the SWA
provides a fee-based system for qualifying low quantity small business
And as consumer habits, styles and
technology change, the SWA responds to meet those new challenges. In
recent years, we have seen an explosion in the amount of discarded
electronics and rechargeable batteries, and in the near future we expect
to see lots of fluorescent lamps. The SWA accepts E-waste from County
residents and everything we collect is processed and recycled in the
U.S., and while rechargeable batteries are on the rise, the SWA has been
collecting and recycling rechargeable batteries for more than 15 years.
On the horizon, due to federal
legislation starting in 2012 the familiar incandescent bulbs that we all
use will begin to be phased out in favor of more energy efficient bulbs,
such as fluorescents. Unfortunately, fluorescent lamps contain mercury
and must be disposed of properly. But, the SWA is ready. We recycled
over 19,000 pounds of fluorescent lamps last year alone, and we are
fully prepared for what the future brings.
The SWA’s HHW program is just one very
important way that the SWA protects public health, safety and the
environment. To learn more, click on the following links.