By Drew Hatzenbihler
Solid Waste Administrator
This time of year, I would normally be writing about spring cleaning and what to do with all the materials you find in your basements and attics, however, this year has been anything but normal. Due to COVID-19 most people have been adjusting to a new way of life; working from home, changing routines to stay home, and socially distancing from everyone. While trash and recycling have been deemed essential services, we have had to make some changes to our operation.
For the first time we’ll be cancelling our Spring Household Hazardous Waste Collection Event which is usually held in May. We felt there was no way we could hold this event and ensure that all participants and volunteers maintain an appropriate physical distance and follow Governor Walz’s “Stay at Home” order. Our fall collection event is still scheduled for October 6. We’ll make any necessary announcements pertaining to that event as it gets closer.
We understand that for many residents, our hazardous waste collection is the only opportunity they have to dispose of their unwanted chemicals. Since many of you will now be storing these chemicals until October, please be sure your hazardous items are stored safely:
• Follow all storage instructions on the product label or Safety Data Sheet (SDS). Pay specific attention to segregation instructions as leaking chemicals can mix with disastrous results.
• Always keep products in their original container with lids firmly secured.
• Store all products in a location where children and animals cannot access them and they are unlikely to be spilled or broken.
• Store flammable products outside of your living space and away from heat and ignition sources.
If you need advice on properly storing your hazardous waste please call the Fillmore County Resource Recovery Center at (507) 765-4704.
Apart from cancelling the spring Household Hazardous Waste Collection, Fillmore County has changed the operation of the Resource Recovery Center to ensure the safety of residents and staff but we need your help. While the Resource Recovery Center is currently operating on its normal hours we are asking residents to limit their trips to only what is essential. With stay at home orders keeping everyone home, everyone has had a lot of time to clean out garages, basements and sheds. While we understand the desire to get rid of these items, we would not consider it essential.
In addition to trips to dispose of what we’re calling “quaranCLEAN” items, we’re also seeing people who are disposing of trash “just to get out of the house.” Most of the time, these people are only disposing of small quantities of household trash and making weekly or daily trips. We’re asking everyone to consider what is essential to dispose of. If you generally self-haul your trash please consider calling your local trash hauler for curbside pickup during this time. If that isn’t an option, consider reducing your normal disposal schedule: if you normally haul your trash every other week, try to haul once a month instead.
Please understand that while your exposure risk may not greatly increase by making a trip to dispose of trash or recycling, the staff of the Resource Recovery Center have greater exposure risk with every customer that comes in. We’re asking for your help to limit our exposure risk by only bringing essential trash that cannot be stored any longer, storing “quaranCLEAN” items until the stay at home order is over, and storing your trash as long as possible before hauling.
If you do need to make an essential trip to get rid of trash or recycling please be sure to avoid congregating at the facility and keep six feet of distance between you and everyone else at all times. Be aware that to protect our staff we have implemented the following changes:
• Only the individual dumping materials is allowed in the transfer building, all others will be asked to remain in their vehicle.
• Transfer station attendants have been instructed not to assist with unloading materials. Please ensure that you are able to safely unload all materials you want to dispose of.
• Customers are no longer allowed in the transfer station office. Please wait outside the office for the transfer station attendant.
• Customers are encouraged to use checks for payment and will only be asked to sign for credit card transactions.
If you do not know your local trash hauling company and want to sign up for curbside pickup, please call your local city or township office to see what options are available to you. If you have questions about how to properly store your household trash or hazardous chemicals please call the Fillmore County Resource Recovery Center at (507) 765-4704.
By Drew Hatzenbihler