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Safe disposal

Randy Bailey, an employee of PeopleReady, pours a bottle of antifreeze into a drum Saturday, Sept. 7, 2019, during the McLean County Household Hazardous Waste Collection at Rivian Automotive, 100 N. Mitsubishi Motorway, Normal. The event, a cooperative between the Ecology Action Center, city of Bloomington, town of Normal and McLean County, expects to collect around 20,000 gallons of hazardous waste along with recycled electronics and unused prescription drugs.

NORMAL — This fall's McLean County household hazardous waste collection was down in both attendance and waste disposed of versus 2017 — but officials are just fine with that.

"This was the first HHW event that ... required residents to register in advance," noted a report from its organizer, the Normal-based Ecology Action Center. "The great success of this system demonstrated by negligible wait-times for event participants ... should help return participation rates to normal within the next couple of HHW events."

The Sept. 7 collection still brought in an estimated 1,680 McLean County residents and 16,242 gallons of household hazardous waste — items like paint, motor oil and drain cleaner that must be disposed of carefully but may not be without such an event.

"This was the smoothest-running household hazardous waste event I've seen here or anywhere," said EAC Executive Director Michel Brown. "It's great to make it more accessible, easier, more seamless."

The EAC runs the event every two years with funding from the city of Bloomington, town of Normal, McLean County government and private partners, including Rivian Automotive, which hosted the event at its plant on Normal's west side.

According to a report on the collection, "79 volunteers worked over 300 hours to help the EAC staff set up, work the event and tear everything back down at the end of the day."

The EAC took 1,236 appointments by phone or online. EAC didn't announce the event's location ahead of time, but 14 "non-appointment attendees" showed up regardless; previous events also were at Rivian.

The most common items collected were flammable liquids, 27.8 percent of all items; pesticide liquids, 26.4 percent; and aerosols, 14.9 percent.

The event also took in 17,501 pounds of electronic waste, including 34.4 percent cathode-ray tube (CRT) televisions and 6 percent LCD or plasma televisions. Those items can also be donated at Normal's public works office.

"We have historically included electronics at the hazardous waste events, but in the past we've had various partners help us. They got into it because it was revenue-producing, but all that's changed dramatically," said Brown. "We did include it at additional cost. This likely is the last year we'll include e-waste at the hazardous waste collection."

The EAC has run household hazardous waste events since 2012, after the state stopped offering them. Officials are still working on a permanent household hazardous waste collection facility for McLean County, but it's unlikely to be finished in time to replace a 2021 collection event, said Brown.

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Contact Derek Beigh at (309) 820-3234. Follow him on Twitter: @pg_beigh

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