Cars lined up for hours Saturday, idling away as drivers waited for their chance to be environmentally responsible.
But despite all the fuel wasted, more than 3,000 people passed through St. John’s University in Queens to properly and safely dispose of various electronic and hazardous materials.
Crowds of people holding empty propane tanks, paint cans, television sets, computers, stereos, microwaves and other electronics flocked to St. John’s University to dump them off in a safe and environmentally acceptable way.
Matthew Perez, of Flushing, said he sat in his car for more than an hour before running out of gas and trying again on the other side of the campus, where a walk-in line extended down Utopia Parkway. He looked down the line with confusion, unsure where all the hype was coming from.
“This was a breeze last year,” Perez said, holding a computer monitor, cordless telephone, television remotes and other electronics. “When I saw this line wrapping around, I thought there was a game here or something.”
But it wasn’t a game holding up traffic along Union Turnpike. According to David Hirschler, deputy director of waste prevention for the city Sanitation Department, the annual safe disposal events have not included the tandem of electronics and household hazardous waste in years.
“Now that we’re collecting all of these things, the response has been great. We’ve collected a massive amount of material,” Hirschler said. “The people have been pretty patient. I think they’re just relieved to get rid of this stuff and to have this option.”
To attract more attention, he said Sanitation mailed letters to all city residents to promote the event. More than 80 workers pillaged through old electronics to recycle them while leaving as little impact on the environment as possible.
Depending on the product, the materials collected are recycled, blended for fuel or sent to licensed hazardous waste treatment plants for safe disposal, the department said.
Sanitation held five SAFE Disposal events this spring, with one in each borough, to deliver a one-stop means for residents to get rid of potentially harmful household products. The Queens stop at St. John’s University drew more than 3,000 people, Hirschler said. It was the first Sanitation Department-sponsored safe recycling event in Queens since 2008.
Lucy Nersesian, of Bayside, pushed a large green wheelbarrow full of paint cans, oil cans, radios and other items out of her garage toward the front of the walk-in recycling line. She said she was glad to be getting rid of it all despite the wait.
“This stuff’s got to go either way,” Nersesian said. “I’d rather do it the right way.”
Hirschler said Sanitation planned on holding the same event annually for each borough in the coming years so residents have more options when looking to get rid of electronics or hazardous waste.
Reach reporter Phil Corso by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org or by phone at 718-260-4573
©2012 Community News Group
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