Gray skies won't keep you away

Hazohouse: Facility has covered area to drop-off recyclables

April 15, 2011 

After five weeks of operation in mostly wet, cold weather, Thurston County's collection site for household hazardous waste is popular with customers and employees alike.

That’s because the new HazoHouse at the Thurston County Waste and Recovery Center includes a sheltered drop-off area, unlike the old one that had served the county for 20 years.

The $1.2 million HazoHouse is the centerpiece of relocated recycling services on the southeast side of the old landfill, which is now an off-leash dog park off Hogum Bay Road. The complex also includes recycling stations for electronic waste, clothing and traditional recyclables such as glass bottles and jars, paper, cardboard, certain plastic containers and bags, and milk and juice cartons.

The waste and recovery center is a far cry from the old Hawks Prairie dump where garbage was burned and buried decades ago.

“We used to just dig a big hole and fill it up,” recalled former Thurston County Commissioner George Barner, who represents the Port of Olympia on the county’s solid waste advisory committee. “Now we have an amazing facility where residents can recycle just about everything.”

County solid waste officials and other guests gathered Thursday at HazoHouse for a grand opening and tour. The new HazoHouse, financed with garbage-disposal fees charged at the waste and recovery center, features an improved ventilation system, more storage space and easy drive-in access.

“The old one just kind of outlived its usefulness,” county environmental health director Art Starry said.

“We’re getting nothing but compliments,” said waste and recovery center manager Jim Zygar. “Our customers and the employees like the covered area.” The former HazoHouse receiving area was outdoors.

Thurston County Commissioner Sandra Romero shared some statistics that show the rapid growth in hazardous waste collection from residents and small businesses.

In 2002, the county facility collected 117 tons of waste from 7,152 residents and 212 businesses. In 2009, HazoHouse collected 397 tons of hazardous waste from 16,029 residents and 367 businesses.

This includes antifreeze, used oil, oil-based paints, pesticides, household cleaning supplies and other chemicals that otherwise languish in garages, or, worse, are improperly dumped down the drain or in the garbage.

The materials are segregated by waste type and hauled away by contractors who either recycle the materials or send them to licensed incinerators or other regulated hazardous waste disposal sites.

HazoHouse, 2418 Hogum Bay Road, is open to the public free of charge from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Friday through Tuesday. Customers can proceed to the garbage disposal area at the waste and recovery center or drive out the way they drove in to the center.

John Dodge: 360-754-5444 jdodge@theolympian.com

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