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Volunteers process dropped-off items Saturday, Sept. 9, 2017 during the McLean County Household Hazardous Waste Collection at the Rivian Automotive parking lot, Normal. 

NORMAL — McLean County residents will get another chance to dispose of hazardous waste next month, but this time, they'll need an appointment.

Attendees will need to register online or by phone to drop off materials like paint, flammable liquids, pesticide and aerosols during the McLean County Household Hazard Waste Collection on Sept. 7.

That change is expected to trim wait times without any major drawbacks, said Michael Brown, executive director of the Normal-based Ecology Action Center, which organizes the event.

"This is one of the bigger such events in the state, so traffic management is always an issue in terms of getting people in and out quickly," he said. "We've historically had people show up like two hours before the event opens, and then they're automatically creating a two-hour wait for themselves. ... We think this is a better way for everybody."

Attendees can make appointments, starting Wednesday and running through Sept. 6, at hhwmclean.org or by calling the EAC at 309-454-3169. The event is not open to residents of other counties or to businesses.

Because of the appointment system, the EAC isn't announcing exact times or a location for this year's collection, "to discourage people from just showing up," said Brown. Previous collections were in the parking lot at Rivian.

Brown said officials expect to be able to serve at least as many attendees regardless. The 2017 collection drew 3,022 households in 1,460 cars.

The EAC is still trying to hit a $35,000 fundraising goal for 2019's event and is seeking volunteers; as many as 200 are needed, said Brown. Those interested in donating or volunteering should visit hhwmclean.org or call.

EAC coordinated similar local events in 2017, 2015 and 2012 after the state stopped funding them. The 2017 event was the best-attended, and it led to the disposal of 23,717 gallons of waste.

The collection is supported by fundraising and local governments. The 2017 collection cost $141,294; the city of Bloomington contributed $63,000, the town of Normal $43,400 and McLean County $33,600.

"Collection events like this one protect our local environment by preventing the contamination of ground and surface water," said Bloomington Public Works Director Jim Karch. "We are thankful for the residents who do the right thing and participate ... rather than throwing hazardous waste in the garbage."

Area Disposal Services, Compeer Financial, Henson Disposal and Recycling, Illinois Farm Bureau, Republic Services and Rivian are also supporting the event.

Last August, Brown said officials were still working on a permanent household hazardous waste collection facility in McLean County, but it was unlikely to be finished in time to supplant 2019 or 2021 collection events.

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

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