Scarborough hosts hazardous waste drop-off

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SCARBOROUGH — Residents looking to dispose of hazardous waste will have an opportunity to do so on Saturday, July 17, from 8 a.m. to noon at the Public Works building.

Residents of Scarborough, Old Orchard Beach, Saco and Biddeford can drop off a variety of household hazardous wastes that cannot be put into the regular trash.

The four towns joined forces in 2005 to run three annual hazardous waste collections days. The events are run by Clean Harbors, which then hauls the waste to Massachusetts for proper disposal.

“They have facilities there capable of burning hazardous waste,” Saco and Scarborough Recycling Coordinator Sarah Bernier said.

Bernier said a few items, such as the glass and mercury from fluorescent bulbs, can be recycled, but that most of it has to be burned in specialized facilities that trap the emissions and filter out the toxins.

Approximately 200 to 300 people typically turn out for the hazardous waste drop-off days, she said.

While lines used to move quite slowly, the process for collecting the waste has been expedited, so those waiting should be able to move through quickly and likely will not even have to get out of their cars.

Bernier said when they first began holding the events, people showed up with huge piles of waste to drop off. However, now that they hold these events three times a year, fewer people amass large stockpiles.

The items eligible for disposal include fluorescent bulbs, motor oil, oil-based paint, pesticides, fertilizers, antifreeze and gasoline. A full list is available on the town’s website,

Items that cannot be dropped off include pathological waste, explosives, tires, radioactive waste, propane cylinders, computers, latex paint, smoke detectors and commercial waste.

“Latex paint can go into the regular garbage if it’s dried out,” Bernier noted. “Adding kitty litter to it helps dry it out.”

She also said people sometimes want to drop off medications, but because all four towns burn their regular garbage, medications can go directly into the trash.

“There’s no risk of it seeping into the ground,” she said.

The drop-off days are scheduled three times per year in May, July and September, and move from town to town. All four municipalities share the $1,300 cost of hosting the events.

For those not able to attend the July 17 event, the Riverside Recycling Center in Portland accepts household hazardous waste on the first and third Saturdays of the month from non-residents for $6.50 a gallon for liquid waste and $3.50 for solid waste.

Emily Parkhurst can be reached at 781-3661 ext. 125 or