Numbers continue to show need for annual Clean Sweep

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This photo from the 2015 Clean Sweep shows just how many TVs and monitors piled up for disposal. The cause of such a large spike in collection of TVs, from 23,822 pounds in 2014 to 49,253 pounds in 2015, is undetermined. Another big year of 41,293 pounds of TVs happened in 2016. (Submitted photo)

By Correne Martin

Crawford County collected 41,293 pounds of televisions alone at its 2016 Clean Sweep collection. The year before that, 49,253 were accrued, according to the Crawford County Land Conservation Department (LCD).

Even at $5 per TV disposed, collection of these and other electronics to be scrapped and recycled has become a need for county consumers. That’s why the chemical clean sweep, electronics recycling and household prescription drug collection has become such a desired event for over a decade in Crawford County.

For 2017, the Clean Sweep will be Friday, Oct. 27, from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m., at the Crawford County Highway Shop, one mile south of Seneca. This offering is essentially free to county residents who can provide proof of residency.

What’s accepted?
Chemicals acceptable include:

•Unused, damaged, canceled, banned or otherwise unwanted agricultural chemicals, including herbicides, insecticides, fungicides, rodenticides and wood preservatives.

•Other agricultural chemicals including veterinary supplies, lead paint, acid washes, wood finishes, solvents and engine cleaners.

•Household chemicals such as paint, stain, used oil, oil filters and anti-freeze.

•Household CFL bulbs and fluorescent tubes (for quantities over 50, a small fee per bulb will be charged).

Up to 200 pounds of chemicals per household will be collected free of charge, though larger quantities will require disposal charges.

“Latex paint, when it dries, is not hazardous,” explained Dave Troester, county conservationist. “The best thing residents can do before bringing it to the Clean Sweep is pour it onto an old board or into a cardboard box with some sand and let it dry.” Both latex- and oil-based paints are accepted.

Electronics recycled may include TVs, monitors, computers, laptops, printers, scanners, keyboards, VCRs, DVD players, cell phones and other miscellaneous items. Dynamic Recycling, of La Crosse, is the processing agent for these items.

“TV collection has dipped a bit from two years ago, though that was when it spiked,” Troester said. “We had been needing two semi trailers, but in 2015, we filled five semis. Last year, we filled three and a quarter semis.”

All household prescription drugs are welcome, preferably in labeled containers, with personal information peeled or marked off.

“It’s always shocking the quantity and strength of some of the things that come in,” Troester said, reiterating that such drugs should not be tossed in the garbage or flushed. By way of the Clean Sweep, they are taken by La Crosse County Hazardous Waste and disposed properly. “There’s always a sheriff’s deputy there to keep the prescriptions secure.”

What’s not accepted?
Each year, there are questions about or people who bring materials that cannot be accepted at the Crawford County Clean Sweep for various reasons, Troester said.

Unacceptable items include:

•Radioactive products, including smoke alarms,

•Propane cylinders and grills,

•Furniture, sewing machines, vacuum cleaners,

•circuit boards,

•tires (a tire collection is done in June),

•Appliances such as microwaves, dehumidifiers, refrigerators, washers and dryers, etc.

The main purpose of denying these items is disposal costs.

“We’re trying to make this event affordable for our residents,” he stated.

The county does request financial donations from the city of Prairie du Chien ($1,500) as well as the county’s towns ($200) and villages ($100), in trying to offset the costs involved.

“In 2013, we got paid $215, because of the amount of TVs we collected. But in 2015, we paid out $7,000 and, in 2016, we paid $5,500,” Troester added.

Finally, when transporting materials to the Clean Sweep, residents should:

•Not mix like or unlike materials,

•Leave materials in their original containers,

•place leaking containers inside another container and label the outside.

“It’s not unusual to have traffic backed up all the way to County (Highway) E that day,” noted Carol Wolcott, LCD clerk. “But most people should get through in about 15 minutes, for the majority of the day, unless the line gets really long.”

Residents should note the event is often busiest right at 10 a.m.

Anyone having questions for the Land Conservation Department should call 326-0270. Troester said it’s better to call ahead rather than arrive at the Clean Sweep and be disappointed that certain items are not accepted.

History of Clean Sweep
The Crawford County Clean Sweep started out in 2004 as a farm collection event, which worked well for such residents on a Friday. Thus, the collection has continued, always the last Friday of October.

“It really seems like a win-win for everybody. It’s a good use of taxpayer dollars and the county board is very willing to support this because it’s so desired,” Troester pointed out.

About six county workers from the conservation, zoning, extension and highway departments typically spend the day working in Seneca, in addition to those employees of the La Crosse companies that come down for the event.

Also, starting last year, the W-S SkillsUSA program began bringing youth. While about 10 students from there will be volunteering at the Clean Sweep, the North Crawford/Seneca wrestling team will also have a number of kids on site.

On top of TVs collected in recent years, 2016 statistics showed 5,361 pounds of computers and over 10,000 pounds of other electronics were recorded. Also last year, 2,694 pounds of flammable liquids, 571 pounds of poisons, 6 pounds of mercury, 96 pounds of acid waste, 6 pounds of prescriptions and 1,142 pounds of light bulbs were collected for disposal and recycling.

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