Tox-Away Day to promote sustainable practices

By Garth Snow [gsnow@kpcmedia.com]

She’s not asking anyone to throw out the kitchen sink, but Laura Rhoades suggests that homeowners take a close look at aging cleaning products beneath the kitchen sink before Sept. 7.

Rhoades is the community education coordinator for the Allen County Solid Waste Management District, which will repeat the annual Tox-Away Day program from 9 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. that first Saturday in September. Locations have yet to be confirmed. Rhoades said drop-off points will be announced Aug. 26 at acwastewatcher.org.

Residents from throughout Allen County may drop off potentially harmful chemicals. Minimal fees apply.

“A lot of people don’t really think about what they have under their kitchen sink,” she said, “and there are a number of things that when you don’t need them anymore, they need to be disposed of responsibly.”

For instance, Tox-Away will accept household cleaners, oil-based paint and supplies, health and beauty products, household batteries, lead-acid batteries, pesticides and herbicides, rodent killers, fertilizers, automotive products, propane tanks (limit three per household), pool chemicals, mercury or items that contain mercury, and fire extinguishers.

Tox-Away will not accept latex paint, radioactive material, industrial hazardous waste, steel drums, explosives, medications or tires.

See a full list of eligible and ineligible products on the website.

The one-day event collected more than 43,000 pounds of household hazardous waste in 2012.

“This is put together by the Allen County Solid Waste Management District, and — as the name implies — it is for all of the county,” Rhoades said.

Small businesses that have other materials to recycle may contact Rhoades at (260) 449-7877. “We may come up with other means for disposal,” she said.

She said one of the most common questions involves the difference between oil-based paints — which can be dropped off at Tox-Away Day — and latex paints. Rhoades said latex paint can be rinsed from brushes using soap and water. Significant quantities of latex paints can be contributed to the Habitat for Humanity ReStore, she said. “If there’s just a little bit of it left, you can just air-dry it to a solid and put it in the trash.” Visit the ReStore at 3827 N. Wells St. in Fort Wayne, or call (260) 470-4200.

“They require that the paint can be at least half-full,” said Cortez Henderson, a ReStore associate. “We also take any other building materials, anything from lawn and garden, electrical items, plumbing items, hardware and tools. We do take electronics for recycling as well, like computers, game consoles, TVs.”

Although the Tox-Away Day is held only once a year, Rhoades works year-round to educate the public about responsible recycling. Both Fort Wayne and New Haven have one-cart, curbside recycling programs that accept plastic, glass, metal and paper. “If you live in an area where curbside recycling isn’t available, we have five different sites where people can drop off their recycling free of charge,” she said. Those centers are staffed during regular hours, and staff members are prepared to answer questions.

“When people think of paper, they don’t think that cardboard falls into that category,” she said. But even the cardboard from a box of macaroni can go into the recycling bin instead of the garbage can. “A lot of things can be recycled,” she said.

Through other special events, the SWMD will redirect household batteries through a partnership with Batteries Plus, 105 W. Washington Center Road. That program, too, is limited to Allen County residents. For details, call (260) 471-2761 or visit batteriesplus.com.

“We’re constantly re-educating that batteries should not be thrown into the trash, and those need to be properly recycled,” Rhoades said.

“There are very few things that cannot be recycled,” Rhoades said. For instance, compact fluorescent light bulbs should not be sent to landfills. “We have partnerships with a number of businesses that accept those free of charge,” Rhoades said.

“When it comes to reducing waste, reusing materials and recycling, we have a great resource here in Allen County,” Rhoades said. “If people have questions, we’ll track down the answers. They can send us an email, give us a call. If we’re not the agency, then we will connect them with that agency.”

Although the Sept. 7 Tox-Away will not accept tires, a separate event on Oct. 5 will allow Allen County residents to dispose of car, bike and light truck tires, minus the rims. Fees will apply. The Tire Amnesty Day location and hours will be announced Sept. 23.

Allen County SWMD will recognize outstanding examples in recycling at the 21st annual Excellence in Recycling Awards Luncheon, at 11:30 a.m. Wednesday, Aug. 28, at Cerutti’s Summit Park, 6601 Innovation Blvd., Fort Wayne. The cost is $5 per person, and reservations are due by Aug. 13. RSVP to Susan.Keeler@co.allen.in.us.or call (260) 449-7878.

Local entrepreneur Scott Glaze is the scheduled speaker. Glaze is the owner of the J K O’Donnell’s restaurant in Fort Wayne, and the chairman and CEO of Fort Wayne Metals Research Products Corp.

Glaze became president of Fort Wayne Metals in 1985. The manufacturer of medical precision wire has since grown from one facility with 30 employees to eight facilities with more than 325 employees, in Indiana and Ireland.

He is involved in state, regional and local economic development efforts. He and his wife, Melissa, live in Roanoke. They have three daughters.

“He’s an advocate of sustainable business practices, including recycling,” Rhoades said. “We’re honored to have him as this year’s speaker.”

Ryan Schnurr is a photo and video journalist for INFortWayne.com.