EAU CLAIRE — This week’s Eau Claire County Clean Sweep will be different from previous events because of incineration restrictions.
Regan Watts, Eau Claire County recycling and sustainability coordinator, said restrictions are in place for this month’s event because incinerators do not have enough capacity to handle all of the items dropped off at prior Clean Sweeps.
“The list of things that we can take this time is a lot shorter than the list of things that we can’t,” Watts said.
The list of acceptable items includes oil-based paint not in glass; latex paint not in glass; aerosols; batteries; lightbulbs; wood stain; gas; oil; fuel stabilizer; mineral spirits; antifreeze; and carburetors and brake cleaners.
The list of items not being accepted includes window cleaners; drain cleaners; bleach; ammonia; deck cleaners; floor/wax strippers; paint in glass containers; pesticides; herbicides; fertilizers; and pool chemicals.
The event occurs Saturday from 8 a.m. to noon at WRR Environmental Service, 5200 Ryder Rd., Eau Claire.
Brian Robinson, WRR field services manager, said capacity restrictions are in place for a few reasons.
One of those reasons is severe weather this winter in the southern part of the country that “caused significant and unexpected outages due to power loss and ice storms,” Robinson wrote in an email. “This caused a major backlog and capacity issues at a large number of incinerators. Normally we would expect these facilities to recover in a short period of time but they have not and are still over capacity and restricting waste volumes across the country.”
That backlog still exists, and it is uncertain when the incineration capacity restrictions will be lifted. Robinson anticipates some incineration restrictions continuing into next year.
That means future county Clean Sweep events could have limitations as well. The next Clean Sweep is slated for Sept. 11.
The event gives county residents the chance to properly dispose of hazardous household materials. During the Saturday Clean Sweep, people can drive up with their items, which workers and volunteers will unload for eventual disposal. It is free to drop off most materials, but fees exist for items like batteries, paints and lightbulbs.
Clean Sweep participants should also have household materials in their original container and original label.
“That makes the process go a lot faster, so we don’t have to do any guesswork on what’s in the container,” Watts said.
Watts said the most challenging aspect of the event is efficiently dealing with a high number of participants. She said the most recent Clean Sweep in May collected about 25,000 pounds of materials.
It will be challenging to handle everything in a timely, efficient manner while adhering to restrictions, but Robinson looks forward to assisting the community.
“It’s a long day, but it’s very rewarding knowing that we’re helping out the environment, we’re helping out the county and the residents,” Robinson said.
Event organizers are still looking for volunteers on Saturday. Anyone interested in volunteering or who has questions can contact Watts at 715-839-2756 and Regan.Watts@co.eau-claire.wi.us.