Clean Sweep -
Welcome to the Eau Claire County Clean Sweep website. The following is a more detailed description of the menu items to the left:
- Detailed Information On Clean Sweep - Residential - Click on this item to find out the location, dates, and times that you can dispose of your household hazardous waste (HHW).
- Detailed Information On Clean Sweep - VSQG - Click on this item if you are a business that qualifies as a Very Small Quantity Generator (VSQG) of hazardous waste, find out how you can dispose of the material.
- Alternatives To Using Household Hazardous Waste Products - Click on this item to find out about products you can use that are not hazardous and can be used as substitutes for cleaning, pest management, weed control, and other products that have hazardous materials in them.
- Special Clean Sweep Materials - Mercury and Oil Filters. Find out more by clicking on this item.
What Is Clean Sweep?
Why does the county sponsor a Household Hazardous Waste disposal program?
Clean Sweep is the common name for programs designed to safely dispose of hazardous waste products so they don't end up in landfills. There are three types of Clean Sweep programs: Residential; Agricultural; and Very Small Quantity Generator for businesses which generate and store smaller amounts. Clean Sweep programs are typically sponsored by either county or municipal governments. When you see just the term "Clean Sweep", it usually refers to a residential household hazardous waste (HHW) program.
Hazardous waste describes products that if not handled properly, can be harmful to people, animals, or the environment, particularly surface and ground waters. There are four basic categories of HHW:
- Toxic: materials that can make you sick or kill you
- Ignitable or flammable: materials that can burst into flame at temperatures below 140 degrees Fahrenheit
- Corrosive: strong acids and bases that can eat through steel and other materials
- Reactive: chemicals that are violently unstable at room temperature, that react violently with water, or when mixed with air at room temperature give off toxic vapors
Studies from the early 1990's suggest that only about 1% of the materials ending up as trash that come from households would be classified as HHW. That might not seem like a large enough quantity to get excited about, except that the impact of HHW is much greater than the quantities suggest. Think of it this way: Would you drink from a gallon of water or milk if you knew it had two tablespoons of drain cleaner in it? Those two tablespoons would be 1% of the contents.
Eau Claire County has sponsored residential Clean Sweeps annually since 1981. In the past, the county also organized periodic agricultural Clean Sweeps designed primarily to assist farmers in removing accumulated hazardous wastes from their operations. This effort has been successful and since there is no evidence that hazardous wastes are now accumulating on farms, there are no plans to offer an agricultural Clean Sweep event in the near future.
Last, the county has worked with the private market since 1995 to sponsor VSQG programs. Information on these may be found by clicking here.
In part because of the nature of HHW, and in part due to strict state and federal regulations, the disposal cost of these wastes is very high. It is far better if residents take steps to limit, as much as possible, the creation of HHW in the first place. In order to accomplish this, we have the following suggestions:
- Where possible, use non-toxic alternative products
- Don't over purchase, especially paint. Although the unit cost of paint is less if you buy by the gallon as opposed to a quart can, the savings you enjoy will be offset if you wind up throwing some of it away
- If you find that you have more product than you need, and if it is in good condition, see if you can find someone else who can use the product. It is far better for products to be used up as intended then to be disposed of in Clean Sweep programs. Ask your friends, relatives and neighbors if they can use the material, or consider putting it out at the end of your driveway with a "FREE" sign
- By far and away, the greatest amount of material that comes into Clean Sweep is paint. For other suggestions on handling paint to minimize the need for disposing of it through Clean Sweep, please click here.
A final thought: If you know of someone who will be moving in the future, suggest that they begin planning for dealing with their HHW as soon as possible. If there is a large accumulation of these products, planning for their disposal may take quite a bit of time. For many of these wastes, Clean Sweep is the only environmentally responsible way of disposal, and there are only four Clean Sweep collection dates during the year. Refer them to this website or to the county recycling office at 715-839-2756.
If you still have questions about the Clean Sweep Program, please call Amanda Dent at 715-839-2756 or send questions by email to firstname.lastname@example.org.