Most people don't associate hazardous waste with the products stashed under their sinks or stowed in their garages, but many everyday cleaners can be harmful to the environment if they're not disposed of properly.
So to help people safely conduct their spring cleaning, the Town of Payson is holding its first household hazardous products collection day from 8 a.m. to 2 p.m. Saturday at the southeast corner of the Wal-Mart parking lot.
"I'm really looking forward to this," Jeff Durbin, town water resource specialist and the town's contact for the event, said. "It's just real exciting."
The collection day, which town officials intend to make an annual event, will give local residents an opportunity to safely dispose of unneeded and potentiality hazardous household products.
While commercial and industrial products will not be accepted, Rim country residents can drop off household hazardous products such as paint cleaners, drain cleaners and chlorine bleach.
"It's basically any kind of product you find in the house or garage that is hazardous to the environment," Durbin said. "That includes paint, gasoline, batteries, all kinds of household cleaners, furniture cleaners and carburetor cleaners stuff you don't feel comfortable throwing in the trash."
Explosive materials, radioactive waste and medical waste will not be accepted.
Residents also will be able to take away usable products for reuse. Products such as unused motor oil, antifreeze, Round Up weed killer and other products will be made available at a special table.
While the town promotes the recycling of newspapers at drop-off sites at Wal-Mart and Green Valley Park, as well as the recycling of used motor oil, automobile batteries and nickel-cadmium batteries at local retailers, a privately operated curbside recycling service endorsed by the town recently folded.
Until now, the town had no provisions for safely disposing or recycling hazardous household waste.
"The important thing at this point is to get the word out that everything is free to all Rim country residents," Durbin said. "We might ask a couple of questions like, 'How far have you come?' but we won't turn anyone away."
Answers to a few simple questions will help the town and Philip Services the Valley-based national company managing the event make it more convenient, efficient and successful the following year.
Funded by a $17,000 grant from the Arizona Department of Environmental Quality, the town hopes to hold the event each year on the first Saturday of May.
Philip Services will be assisted by the town water and fire departments and Wal-Mart employees who are volunteering their time.
Frank Sanchez, Philip facility manager and coordinator of the Payson event, cautioned residents to be careful cleaning out sheds.
"We suggest people might want to wet down the area with a weak bleach and water solution to kill any viruses," he said, "and to watch out for snakes and spiders."
It's also a good idea to seal any hazardous household products in plastic bags before driving them to the drop off point, Sanchez said, so the products won't spill inside the car.
Pesticides that are canceled, suspended, legally restricted or chemically deteriorated must be secured and disposed of at the household hazardous waste collection.
Empty pesticide containers should be triple-rinsed and discarded with trash destined for the landfill.
Medical sharps, which are used to administer medications such as allergy shots and insulin and to monitor blood sugar levels, should be disposed in a rigid, puncture-resistant, leak-proof container sealed with duct tape. The container should then be placed with trash destined for the landfill.