Friday, 16 April 2021 17:19

County sets record in household hazardous waste collection, preps for Earth Day cleanup

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ROCKINGHAM — Richmond County residents got rid of quite a few old cans of paint last weekend at the county’s annual Household Hazardous Waste Day.

According to Assistant Public Works Director Byran Leggett, 154 vehicles drove through the parking lot of the Human Services Complex during a four-hour span Saturday, April 10 and dropped off 11.28 tons of hazardous materials.

Leggett said 58% of that was latex and oil-based paints and paint-related materials.

Other items collected included:

  • 144 pounds of batteries
  • 351 pounds of fluorescent light bulbs
  • 868 pounds compressed gasses
  • 91 pounds of corrosive material
  • 7,289 of flammable liquids
  • 221 pounds of oxidizing material
  • 1,128 pounds of poisonous material

“This year was a record year and doubles any previous years we have held this event,” Legget told the RO in an email Friday afternoon.

County records show that 3.5-6 tons of hazardous waste are collected each year.

According to slides on the county website, statistics for previous years include:

  • 2014 - 4.5 tons
  • 2015 - 3.5 tons
  • 2016 - 4.6 tons
  • 2017 - 6.16 tons
  • 2018 - 6.1 tons
  • 2019 - 4.1 tons

The event, generally held each April, was canceled in 2020 due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Legget said he thinks last year’s cancelation is partly responsible for this year’s bounty, in addition to it being announced early and included with the water bills, and media coverage.


The county is also gearing up for an Earth Day cleanup next weekend from 8-11 a.m. Saturday, April 24.

The county-led effort is being organized by Legget and Aging Services Director Jacqueline Welch.

As of Friday, 511 volunteers in 45 groups have signed up to participate.

Some of the local industries will have teams picking up trash in their areas.

Vulcan Materials has the largest team, with 50 volunteers, who will be cleaning up on Galestown Road.

Two other companies, American Woodmark and Superior Cranes, will have teams along their respective Adopt-A-Highway sections, according to an assignment sheet.

The assignment list also shows local churches getting involved with the effort: Beaver Dam United Methodist Church on McDonald Church Road; Philadelphia United Methodist Church in its community; and McLean Presbyterian Church in Ellerbe on Millstone Road.

Twenty-five cadets from the Richmond Senior High School Army JROTC Raider Battalion, members of the school’s Beta Club and Richmond Early College High School’s Eco Club — who recently picked up five bags of trash on Wiregrass Road — are also on the list.

“I have been thrilled with the response we have witnessed for the Earth Day cleanup event,” County Manager Bryan Land told the RO in an email Monday. “It is great to see area businesses, industries and individual citizens pitch in to do their part to make Richmond County cleaner and greener!”

In March, state and county workers picked up more than 5 tons of garbage from local roadways.

Land said he hopes the momentum continues long after Earth Day has passed.

Welch said Friday that a Facebook Group — Earth Day is Everyday- Richmond County, NC — has been created.

“In this group I have posted sponsors, safety tips and volunteer sign in sheets, pictures I have been sent of people already picking up trash,” Welch said. “This group can act as a great resource for concerned citizens as well as those that want to show their achievements within their community.”

Due to state budget cuts, Welch said the N.C. Department of Transportation isn’t able to provide all the equipment needed, so sponsorships are being sold, as well as event T-shirts.

As of Friday, donations were more than double the $2,000 goal with $ 5,540 being raised.

Welch said they are still accepting donations for “Thank You” packets. So far restaurants have donated coupons, and she’s asking for other items including pens, stickers, magnets and masks to represent the contributing business.

Anyone still interested in volunteering or donating can call 910-997-4491.

Welch said another event is planned for October.