Steamboat Springs The head of Routt County's environmental department says a new program to dispose of household hazardous waste has been successful in its first four months.
The county has a contract with Curbside Inc. that allows residents to put their hazardous wastes on the curbside to be picked up.
The materials would then be recycled or reused by Safety-Kleen, Curbside's parent company. It is the first such program on the Western Slope.
Fifty-four homes throughout Routt County have used the service since Sept. 1, said Mike Zopf, director of the Department of Environmental Health.
"Often people do this kind of cleaning in the spring, so I suspect we'll see an increase in calls for this service during the spring," Zopf said.
Latex paint and used motor oil were the main materials that residents asked to be picked up. Stains and varnishes were the next most common item to be recycled.
Zopf had been worried that many of the hazardous materials from people's homes were ending up illegally in landfills or just dumped anywhere.
Unlike the former household hazardous waste program that was a one-day spectacle in Steamboat Springs, this curbside service was used by people from all over, not just Steamboat, Zopf said.
"This program reaches residents throughout the county," Zopf said.
Steamboat's local NAPA dealer, Routt County Auto Parts, also joined the recycling program.
While the NAPA store has always taken used oil as a courtesy, they had to pay Safety-Kleen to pick it up. Now the county will pay Safety-Kleen a monthly service to pick up NAPA's oil so more people will use the service.
"The problem was we wanted to be able to publicize this to make it a recycling option," said Zopf.
Zopf said the county is already paying to have oil picked up at people's homes, so they believe if they can get more people to take it to NAPA they can save money in the long run.
NAPA Manager Max Snare reminds people that the oil cannot be contaminated with other products like lacquer thinner.
"They also have to use a proper oil disposal container, designed to carry oil," Snare said.
Routt County Auto Parts is also taking anti-freeze for the first time.
"Safety-Kleen isn't billing us to do the anti-freeze," said Snare, who points out that the anti-freeze ends up in places people wouldn't want it to be.
"Dogs and animals can get poisoned from anti-freeze," Snare said.
As for the curbside service, residents start off by calling (800) 449-7587 when they have hazardous materials to be picked up. Residents will pay $10 to have a collection kit sent to their home. The county picks up the rest of the tab at $80 to $95.