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Local hazardous waste cleanup gains momentum

Posted by Laura Gomez  April 11, 2013 04:50 PM

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GCNSWaste exhibit.jpeg

Alanah Percy for

Charlie Perlo, chair of the Beverly solid waste management committee, stands with a hazardous waste exhibit.

Sharon Kishida’s plastic bag recycling display never fails to draw the attention of visitors. As the regional recycling coordinator for the Essex County House Hazardous Waste Network, Kishida organizes recycling events to promote safe disposal of household hazardous waste.

Her traveling exhibit—made from a cardboard display board and assorted bags—may appear simple at first glance but it is a helpful educational tool.

“I lend it to municipalities to educate people on how to correctly recycle unwanted plastic bags,” she said.

Kishida has teamed up with Beverly’s director of health William Burke and others to organize Beverly’s Annual Household Hazardous Waste Collection Day on April 20 from 8 a.m. -12 p.m. at Beverly High School. This event is opened to residents of Beverly and Salem.

“We are doing a public service,” said Burke. “Without programs like this, municipal workers are left with the bag.”

Burke says the most common hazardous waste items to be dropped off are paint, aerosol cans, household cleaners, gasoline and paint thinner. Following the event, materials will be separated by item and retrieved by Clean Harbors, a municipal waste disposal company. The company then separates materials by their hazard class and brings them to incinerators, landfills and other disposal locations.

“There has been a decrease in the amount of waste we get from Beverly,” said Seth Dawber, a household hazardous waste specialist from Clean Harbors. “Having done it for so long we are making an impact.”

Statistics from Beverly’s 2012 annual report show that 182 vehicles delivered waste last year. In previous years there were about 400-500 drop-offs. The decrease in waste acquired from these events indicates there is still more work to be done.

Community recycling initiatives can be more difficult to maintain because of the surge of new technological devices and tendency of treatment plant to dump their waste in local waterways.

“There’s a new product everyday that we can’t live without and it ultimately has to be dispensed of,” said Kishida. “We are a disposable society. It’s not as simple to be green anymore and putting it on the curb side isn’t enough.”

As a result, some fear that local waste treatment plants around the North Shore are releasing waste into the ocean that washes up on the shores of beaches.

“I recently saw five large metal disks in Rockport from water treatment plants. They can be found all over the North Shore,” said Kishida. “We have to appreciate our plant especially the ocean. We are so fortunate to live here.”

This article is being published under an arrangement between the Boston Globe and the Gordon College News Service.

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