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OK, it’s going to be a warm weekend and, face it, you haven’t cleaned the shelves in your garage since you stuffed the Christmas decorations out there last winter.

Here’s your chance to rid yourself of some of the clutter – especially the clutter that isn’t environmentally friendly.

“Handle With Care” is a program led by the Solid Waste Disposal Authority of the City of Huntsville, in conjunction with the City’s Department of Public Works.

From 8 a.m. until noon this Saturday (and on the first Saturday of each month), residents are encouraged to bring their household hazardous waste to the Huntsville Landfill (4100 Leeman Ferry Road). It is free of charge to residents of Huntsville, Madison and Madison County.

The Solid Waste Disposal Authority has staff that “are experts at disposing of this type of material, following all state and federal guidelines,” says Chris McNeese, Director of Public Works.

McNeese says it is important to dispose of these materials in the interest of safety – for members of the household and their pets, for neighbors, for the environment and for sanitation workers themselves.

How it works

  • A special drop-off location is set up, to the right of the truck scales at the landfill.
  • Residents who bring in household hazardous waste do not even leave their cars. It is removed by workers on-site.
  • If there is a question about what a product might be or its toxicity, advise one of the workers. There are chemists present who can determine the proper method for disposal. It is not unusual, officials say, for people to have some “mystery container” that could have been left behind by former residents in the home, by a previous generation or simply that is no longer labeled.
  • The SWDA may be contacted in advance with questions at (256) 880-6054.

Examples of hazardous products

  • Paint and paint-related products
  • Automotive products
  • Lawn and garden poisons
  • Household cleaners
  • Old TVs and computers
  • Household chemicals
  • Fluorescent bulbs

Officials ask that household hazardous wastes are brought in their original containers when possible. If not, they ask that the materials are in a box lined with two garbage bags or a container with a lid. If the wastes are leaking, an absorbent material like sawdust or kitty litter should be used to minimize the mess.

The no-no’s

  • No explosives and ammunition
  • No radioactive waste
  • No biological waste

Tips for residents

The Solid Waste Disposal Authority suggests reducing “chemical clutter” with four key tips.

  • Only purchase the amount of product you will use in a reasonable period of time. When buying paint, insecticides or pesticides, figure the area you will be working with, then check the product label for coverage instructions.
  • Use the product according to the instructions on the label. Rinse the empty container three times before disposing of it in your regular household trash.
  • See if your neighbors or local organizations can use any excess product you may have left over.
  • Become a label reader. Just as consumers are becoming more environmentally conscious, so are the manufacturers. Try to purchase environmentally friendly products.