by Dennis Dalman
Last year, 5,750 people brought waste products to the Regional Household Waste Facility in Waite Park, and about 36 tons of waste was collected.
While those are impressive numbers, the staff at the HHW Facility would like even more participants, more tonnage. That is why they are happy they now have some extra funds with which to advertise. Many people are unaware the facility exists.
The HHW Facility in Waite Park is a place where people can conveniently drive up to a drive-through to drop off any and all leftover hazardous wastes. The service is free. There is also a store at which people can pick up any products they need – ones that were dropped off by others but that are perfectly usable, such as paints, garden chemicals, roofing tars, thinners and strippers, and more.
The 19,000-square-foot facility, now three years old, accepts only household hazardous products, as well as business wastes (by appointment). They include latex paint, oil-based paint and stains, automobile chemicals, adhesives, aerosols, paint thinners and strippers, roofing tars, garden chemicals, old fuels, household cleaning products, oil, antifreeze, propane cylinders, fluorescent bulbs of all sizes and children’s car seats.
People are also welcome to use the facility’s shredder to shred any personal documents.
What are not accepted at the facility are appliances, explosives, furniture, electronics, tires, pharmaceuticals or medical waste.
Residents from the counties of Stearns, Benton, Sherburne and Mille Lacs are welcome to bring waste to the facility because all of those counties have contracts, on behalf of their residents, with the HHW Facility.
“We are happy to see people come through to use the facility,” said Troy Freihammer, one of four staff members at the place. “We like to see them come here whether it’s to drop off stuff or to use the re-use store.”
The HHW Facility is funded by the State of Minnesota. In the past legislature, some extra funds were made available for that and similar facilities throughout the state. The one in Waite Park decided to use some of those funds to advertise, in an effort to make people more aware of the facility’s existence and to begin to use it.
Household hazardous waste programs were established in Minnesota about 30 years ago, Freihammer said. They were authorized and funded via the legislature’s Waste Management Act. The Pollution Control Agency partnered with counties to reduce toxicities in the waste stream. The one in Stearns County was first run by the Tri-County Solid Waste Management Commission, but later Stearns County and the Tri-County agency merged services. And now, Stearns County solely manages the facility with contracts with other counties. Currently, there is an effort to contract with more than just the four current counties, Freihammer noted.
One environmental plus about the HHW Facility is it recycles all it can salvage. Latex paint, for example gets recycled back into latex or blended in the making of concrete since it has a high calcium content. Old fuels and solvents get sent to power plants to use in the production of energy.
Freihammer said even though the staff handles toxic items, they work in well-ventilated areas and have strict quality-control methods in dealing with hazardous wastes.
The HHW Facility is located at 5th Street S. in Waite Park. To get there, go south on 28th Avenue S. (the road that goes right past Fleet Farm). Then take Hwy. 38 going west to the Stearns County Service Center. At that place, take a left on 34th Avenue S, and the facility is about two blocks south.
Along the way there will be green signs saying “HHW FACILITY.”
Hours of operation are from 8 a.m-5 p.m. Monday; 8 a.m.-4:30 p.m. Tuesday-Friday; and from 8 a.m.-noon on the third Saturday of each month.
The phone number of the HHW Facility is 320-255-6140.