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Aug 20 - Ignore the sign - landfill will take your paint
Ignore the sign - landfill will take your paint

August 20, 2011
From: The Lebanon Democrat

Although the entrance sign says differently, the Wilson County Landfill is now accepting residential latex and oil-based paint.

"We're getting the sign changed," said Solid Waste Director Cindy Lynch, who said the state had only permitted the practice as of last Monday, Aug. 15.

Although some county landfills charge to accept paint, Lynch said Wilson County will not.

"The mayor (Randall Hutto) wrote a letter explaining how we would handle and dispose of the paint," she said, adding that the permit modification took a long time to arrive.

Lynch said there a few rules people should know, such as the landfill can only take residential, not commercial paints. Also people are asked to limit drop offs to five gallons per visit, and if people bring spray cans, they must be empty because of the explosive potential.

Lynch explained that latex paints will be poured out onto wood chips to dry at the landfill. There is a pretty good supply of wood chips because both chipper services from the City of Lebanon and the Middle Tennessee Electric Membership Cooperative use the county facility. Lynch said wood chips make great temporary roads for trucks backing up to empty their loads in muddy conditions.

For anyone who would rather dry out their own left-over latex paint, Lynch said there is a chemical packet available at most home improvement stores that can be poured into the paint to dry it. Then the dried paint can be dropped off at convenience centers.

Also some people may dry paint at home if they have their own wood chips or cat litter.

As for oil-based paints, which are combustible, the cans will be put on pallets, wrapped and picked up by state hazardous waste units.

Metal cans can be sold for scrap and plastic containers can go in the landfill.

Speaking of metal, Lynch said in July alone the landfill was able to sell to mixed metal companies $13,673.30 worth at three-to-five cents a pound, which was the bulk of the $20,128.40 the landfill took in from recycling firms.

Tipping fees charged by the landfill  $9 a cubic yard for construction and demolition waste and $36 a ton for shingles) plus the recycling profits made July's total of $38,853.71 "the best month in over a year," she said.

Lynch, who is also responsible for the convenience centers located around the county, said her facility is an enterprise operation and is mostly self-supporting, although it does get three cents of the property tax to cover some tipping fees for household garbage it takes to Smith County.

The Watertown native has been working at the landfill for 12 years, starting as a dispatcher, weighing trucks and answering the phone.

She had received an education degree from Middle Tennessee State University and discovered after a student teaching experience that it was "not my chosen field after all, but if somebody had told me I'd be working in the solid waste field, I would have laughed," she said.

Hutto recently applauded the efforts of the landfill operation for far exceeding the Solid Waste Management Act of 1991 mandate to reduce landfill consumption by 25 percent. Wilson managed to cut the amount of waste put in the landfill by 47 percent.

Lynch explained that the recycling efforts of the three municipalities, MTEMC and plants in the county helped contribute to that reduction. "The three R's are 'Reduce,' 'Recycle' and 'Re-use,'" she said.

She said the state will have a "Household Hazardous Waste Collection Day" at the Fairgrounds on Saturday, Sept. 10, from 8 a.m. to 1 p.m. The state will not accept paint and electronic scrap, but Lynch will have a location set up near the state site so that people also can get rid of those items on that date.

Old electronics can be sold for two cents a pound, so those items are welcomed year-round as well at the landfill.