HHW Program History

Why Have an HHW Collection Program?

In the late 1980s, the DES began receiving an increasing number of calls from county residents seeking ways to properly dispose of old paints, lawn care products, automotive fluids and unwanted or unusable household chemicals. At that point in time, there was really no good answer to give them. With no easy, safe and convenient way for residents to dispose of these wastes, many of the paints, chemicals and thinners ended up in landfills or down storm and sanitary sewers. Historically, these wastes could leak from old, unlined landfills and contaminate ground water and soil (active MSW landfills in NYS are now required to be multiply-lined to prevent leaks). Most storm sewers go directly to creeks, rivers, ponds or lakes where these chemicals are hazardous to aquatic life. Pouring unwanted household wastes down sink drains or toilets and into sanitary sewers can harm microorganisms used by wastewater treatment plants to make sewer water safe before it is released back into the environment. In 1989, in an effort to protect the environment, DES advertised and held a one-day HHW collection for county residents. The response was overwhelming. Over 1,400 residents swamped the collection area and Monroe County’s HHW collection program was off and running.

HHW Timeline

  • October 1989
    The organized disposal of HHW in Monroe County began with a single collection event -- 1,400 residents participated.
  • September 1991
    The County builds the first permanent HHW Facility in Upstate N.Y.–operated by the Monroe County Department of Environmental Services (DES).
    The New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (NYSDEC) supports the HHW program with grant monies available through State Assistance Program. Monroe County submits quarterly and annual reports to the NYSDEC, which permits the facility.
  • 1995
    NYSDEC permits the facility to accept waste generated by qualified businesses, known as Conditionally Exempt Small Quantity Generators.
  • 1997
    NYSDEC permits the facility to accept wastes from out-of-county households.
    County designates Safety Kleen Corporation (now Clean Harbors) as its primary hazardous waste disposal company. Eastman Kodak Company also donates the use of its hazardous waste incinerator for the safe incineration of certain wastes.
  • September 1995
    In an effort to better serve outlying areas and improve program convenience, Monroe County holds the first Mobile Household Hazardous Waste Collection in New York state.
  • February 1998
    Monroe County HHW program wins the New York State Water Environment Association’s Industrial and Hazardous Waste Award.
  • November 1998
    Monroe County unveils a new, modern HHW Facility. The new facility:
    • Doubles size of operations area and storage capacity
    • Improves spill containment/control measures
    • Adds ventilation system and other safety features
    • Provides a more efficient working area--keeping costs down
    • Offers more flexibility in consolidation efforts
  • March 1998
    Monroe County holds New York state’s first mercury-only collection -- over 1,000 pounds collected in a three-day period.
  • September 2011
    Monroe County opens the ecopark as a one-stop-drop for HHW and other difficult to manage items.

Overview: HHW In Monroe County (through 2014)

  • Population: 735,343–Households: 286,512
  • Since HHW program started in 1991: 108,000 households served
  • Collections held at permanent facility: 938
  • Mobile collections held in town and villages: 122
  • Conditionally Exempt Small Quantity Generators serviced (1995-2014): 2,392
  • 4,600 tons of material collected to date
  • Program users surveyed by DES to evaluate program’s strengths and weaknesses (98 percent satisfaction rating)
  • Reportable on-site spills: NONE

Program Highlights:

  • Time it takes for the average resident to be served at the facility--five to ten minutes.
  • Thermometer exchange program (DES exchanges mercury-containing thermometers for mercury-free thermometers at no charge).
  • Pesticide Amnesty Program (1997)—collection day for farmers nets 8 tons of pesticides.

HHW Partnerships

  • Baker Commodities (585 482-1880)
    Provides a collection service for used commercial cooking oils and a pumping service for indoor and underground restaurant grease traps. These materials are processed at its Rochester, New York facility.
  • ABVI Goodwill Industries
    Partnership that collects useable clothing and accessories at ecopark collections to remove this reusable material from the solid waste stream.
  • Wal-Mart
    Sponsor of HHW collection event in June 2000. Collection held at Penfield Wal-Mart parking lot to promote environmental conservation in Monroe County.
  • Boy Scouts of America
    Boy Scouts have used the HHW collection program to obtain Eagle Scout badges by organizing and promoting HHW collections.
  • 10NBC
    Local NBC affiliate and Monroe County teamed up with local sponsors to create an ad campaign highlighting the household hazardous waste program and recycling efforts throughout Monroe County.