Wednesday, April 17, 2013

County opens first household hazardous waste disposal site

St. Louis County has opened its first permanent household hazardous waste collection facility.
This is a regional collection point in Lemay, intended only for residents in St. Louis County, Jefferson County and St. Louis city.

Located at 291 E. Hoffmeister Ave., the facility is a partnership between St. Louis County and the Metropolitan St. Louis Sewer District. It is near the Lemay Waste Water Treatment Center.
Household hazardous waste material contains chemicals that are toxic, flammable, corrosive or reactive. Some residential waste can be paints, varnishes, pesticides, gas cylinders, car engine fluids or batteries.

The site will replace the county's one-day collection activities. The St. Louis County Department of Health has spent about $7 million since 1998 for these one-day events.

“The permanent facility is more cost-effective than collecting one day at a time,” said Mary Patterson, supervisor of the health department's solid waste management program. “It also is something that residents can use all year long.”

Residents must make a reservation to bring in their waste. The first 50 pounds are free; any additional weight will cost $1 per pound. One exception is latex paint, which will cost 20 cents per pound.
“Latex paint is not on the hazardous waste list, but we'll take it,” Patterson said. One reason for the cost is to encourage residents to use an alternative kind of paint.

Funding for the permanent facility comes in part from the Missouri Department of Natural Resources and the St. Louis-Jefferson Solid Waste Management District. The program also receives money from St. Louis County landfill surcharge fees.

St. Louis County has a contract with PSC Environmental. The firm charges the county 95 cents per pound to haul and recycle the waste.

“The fees are to offset the costs,” Patterson said. “We're not trying to to make any money off of this.”
The county has tried to build a permanent site since the 1990s. In 2006, it tried to place some collection lockers at various sites, but some communities didn't want to have the lockers, Patterson said.

Then, MSD stepped up and formed a partnership with St. Louis County. Several sites were examined before the partners decided on the Lemay site. The collection center cost $600,000 to build. MSD does not charge for the use of the land.

“There were different aspects, but one reason for the location is that the county always had success in the South County area during the one-day collections,” MSD division manager Cathy Politte said.
The sewer district has an incentive, trying to keep residents from pouring toxic materials down the drains or into the sewers.

“There is a perception out there that the sewers are a waste can,” MSD spokesperson Lance LeComb said. “Our water treatment plants do a good job of cleaning the water, but we have to put in some extra work to handle any (household waste) that might come through. That costs us more money.”
Politte emphasized the collection facility has its own entrance, is not near the water treatment plant and there is no chance of contamination.

The waste collection facility opened in late March. A grand opening is tentatively planned for May 13. However, it is open and ready for business, Patterson said.

To make a reservation, find a list of materials that will be accepted, or for any questions, go to

For residents without Internet access, the telephone numbers are (314) 615-8958 in St. Louis County; (314) 622-4800 in St. Louis city; and (636) 797-5043 in Jefferson County.

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