Local communities lack much in area of recycling
PRESCOTT – During this year's spring clean up, communities in the tri-city area have collected about 1,500 tons of junk.
Most of it will end up in landfills with little concern to recycle some of the waste.
Rob Waskow, superintendent of Prescott's solid waste department, said the City of Prescott collected 408.35 tons of garbage and none of it was recycled "mostly because it came compacted."
"We did not pick up any hazardous liquids, wastes and tires," Waskow said. "Refrigerators and freezers with freon were not picked up."
Waskow said there were no restrictions on throwing out other appliances, electronics, furniture, wood products and various junk materials. They went straight to the transfer station at Sundog Ranch and will be transferred permanently to the Gray Wolf landfill at a later date.
"If they were in there (garbage containers), they went into the fills," Waskow said.
Norm Gamon, a local television repairman who has operated his business for the last 35 years, said, "just about everything in a TV is toxic."
"The glass contains lead," Gamon said. "There is about 10 pounds of lead per average size TV set."
Computer monitors, like television sets, contain cathode ray tubes. The state of California this year declared cathode ray tubes hazardous waste and banned them from landfills.
"They contain rare earth phosphors which are highly toxic," Gamon explained. "If this goes into the fills, they'll leak into the ground water. There are no landfills completely confinable."
"Don't break it (the cathode ray tubes) in the house," he said. "Their toxicity could cause upper respiratory problems."
"Circuit boards are toxic," Gamon said. "They contain copper, lead, zinc, iron and various chemical paste."
Gamon explained that many European countries take a different approach to the disposal of televisions.
"It is mandatory in Europe to turn in the TV set, and you get refund for it," said Gamon.
One of the reasons Europeans take care of their land, Gamon said, is the fact that they, unlike Americans, can't move somewhere else to live if contamination of their land occurs because they would be crossing an international border.
"Germans can't move to France to live as someone from Texas can move to New Mexico," said Gamon.
The City of Prescott contracted a local recycling company, Kuhles Salvage, to gather and transport Prescott's debris and waste.
Waskow said, "They (Kuhles Salvage) were only authorized to collect garbage," and take it to the landfills.
Warren Kuhles, who, with his brother, owns Kuhles Salvage, said they recycle various materials including plastics, wood, drywall, cardboard, radiators, brass, aluminum cans, used building material, non-ferrous and ferrous metals.
Appliances fall under the last category.
Kuhles Salvage recycles most of the appliances except refrigerators and freezers, which contain freon, explains Kuhles. They compress and transport them to a steal mill to be melted down and reused.
"Iron is the most recyclable item on this planet," Kuhles said. "Iron doesn't loose its strength. Cardboard does and it could be recycled four to five times."
Kuhles said the hazardous material is trapped in the "sanitary landfills." However, he said, the wood, which is not hazardous, most often ends up in the sanitary landfills.
"We make a mulch from the wood and drywall," Kuhles said.
Chino Valley's Public Works Manager Stu Spaulding said the town is expecting to complete its clean up by Thursday. They are collecting about 53 tons of waste a day.
They collected household appliances, electronics such as television sets and computers, furniture, satellite dishes, junk building material and tires. Only tires will not go to the landfills.
"Large areas of town have been cleaned," Spaulding said. "The tires have been left to the last."
The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has certain requirements for the disposal of tires, Spaulding said.
Russ St. Pierre, Yavapai County solid waste coordinator, said the town will recycle the tires they collect in Chino Valley once they clean them and cut the tires with rims into smaller pieces.
"Chino decided to do very a aggressive campaign," St. Pierre said. "They wanted to impact the people who are the most in need."
"There has been mountains of it (garbage)," St. Pierre said. "A good portion of it could have been recycled. "
St. Pierre stressed that having this experience will help them next time to view the clean-up efforts from the recycling aspect.
Prescott Valley's drop-off station accumulated 634 tons of garbage in one day.
Public Works Operations Manager Ken Stanton said people brought 100 refrigerators and 700 other appliances. The town also collected between 700 and 1,000 tires.
Stanton said the town will dump refrigerators into the landfills after removing the freon and compressors to comply with EPA regulations. Other appliances go to Prescott's recycling station, while tires go to the county's transfer station.
Stanton said Prescott Valley doesn't have a recycling program. Private contractors primarily handle that job.
Full Service Recycling of Prescott Valley is a private recycling business that accepts all appliances, including refrigerators and freezers. They charge $17 for the refrigerators with freon, and $5 for those without freon.
"In this state, recycling is not mandatory," said Peggy Guichard-Watters, the solid waste manager at the Arizona Department of Environmental Quality.
"There are few things that are banned from the landfills. There are no appliances that are banned from the landfills."
To make recycling of electronics and appliances mandatory is not very likely in Arizona "because we don't mandate even recycling," Guichard-Watters explained.
Television sets and computers may go to the landfills if someone throws them away, Guichard-Watters added. But, the solid waste section encourages recycling of electronics and white metals, she said. She is aware that computers contain environmentally dangerous substances.
"They do contain some mercury, lead and chromium," Guichard-Watters said.
Schools will accept donations of computers if they are not obsolete, and an organization called StRUT (Student Recycling Used Technologies) teaches students how to repair used computers and how to recycle their parts, Guichard–Watters stressed.
"If they are too obsolete, they recycle the components," she added.
According to Guichard-Waters, Arizona doesn't have hazardous landfills and current landfills are protected and monitored in case they leak.
Contact Mirsada Buric-Adam at email@example.com