Every three months, Frisco holds an event that brings forth a mountain of unused, outdated, obsolete, spent and broken stuff.
Fizzled TVs and computers, jammed printers, stuck keyboards, game systems from a past decade, mis-tinted paints and cell phones that accidentally toured the washing machine — arise at their owners behest for a ride in the back of a van or pickup to a single location in old town Frisco, the Environmental Collection Center, 6616 Walnut.
Here at the aptly named, quarterly Chunk Your Junk events, the chaff of modern life gets a final heave ho.
And good thing too, because most of this stuff is recyclable or has critical parts that are; other items contain toxics that need special handling. After city workers stack, sort, box and in some cases, quarantine all these items, creating towers of neatly packed computer monitors, walls of paint cans and barrels of tightly sealed pesticides and solvents, it’s time to send this salvage on safe passage to the recycling processing centers that work with the city.
The process is win-win-win, explains Jeremy Starritt, environmental services manager.
Recyclers get access to metals, plastics and glass that can be melted, reshaped and reused. That makes sense for the environment, and provides the city with a payback for its efforts.
Citizens win, because, well, who doesn’t like to purge the exiled, decaying consumer goods clogging their garage? And beyond the aesthetic value of clearing out one’s storage, there’s a serious health benefit, Starritt says. With fewer flammable chemicals and toxics sitting around, you’ll be safer. The city and city workers benefit too, especially sanitary trash haulers, because chemicals that end up in their trash-compacting trucks can, and have, burst into flames, Starritt explained. (Yikes!)
Of course, Frisco residents don’t have to wait for the quarterly Chunk Your Junk (CYJ) events to unload their recyclables. Most of them — what you would consider the “basic” recyclables (think of it as what goes in the blue cart at home) — are recyclable during the weekdays and on Saturday mornings at the Environmental Collection Center. In addition, household hazardous waste, paint and electronics are collected at the same site, on Wed 2-5 and Sat 8-1. (See a list of accepted materials below.)
It’s important that everything that can be recycled or needs special handling gets into the proper hands to keep the urban and rural environment as clean as possible, Starritt says.
Taking proper care of chemicals is vital because it keeps them out of the landfill, a key goal of the city environmental staff, which wants to protect residents from the potential of toxics leaching into the soil and groundwater at a later date, he explained.
For other items, such as the barrage of TVs and discarded computer equipment that shows up at every CYJ event, the goal is to reclaim valuable resources, such as the glass, recyclable plastic and valuable metals that can be reused. Cell phones contain tiny pieces of metals like cadmium that can be paid forward into new electronics, and even old TVs may have valuable gold inside (don’t try extracting it at home, electronics contain toxic ingredients too).
Reusing electronics parts has become big business and saves energy and resources. The recyclers who take on the task do so because there’s a profit to be made.
In Frisco, the recyclables and toxics collected have grown over the years, in variety as well as volume, as Frisco stretched to incorporate everything that should be reduced, reused or recycled into the Chunk Your Junk program.
Recent additions that have been brought into the process include, Styrofoam, which is compressed by the city’s special compactor and sent away for recycling off-site; and prescription drugs, added two years ago. Drugs are better disposed of by experts than flushed into the city water system, which “just sends them downstream to the next city,” Starritt says.
Today, the City of Frisco accepts a broad range of items, more than many municipalities, taking in even plastic bags like those used for groceries.
“As we found new ways to properly dispose of different items we’ve added them onto the list of things to collect,” he said. “We have the capability of dealing with just about anything.”
Chunk Your Junk, in fact, has become so popular that it draws long lines of city residents (you must show an ID to use the Environmental Collection Center), and requires extra city help on the Saturdays it’s held.
The latest Chunk Your Junk in November drew a record-breaking 869 residents and resulted in the collection of tons of electronics, scrap wood and partial containers of paint and pesticides and oils and discarded appliances. (For a fee, the city collects refrigerators and contracts for the extraction of freon, which is harmful to the atmosphere if released.)
The lawn and shop chemicals collected also get sent out for proper disposal. But the paint is handled on site with a machine that squeezes out every last drop of paint and then spits out the metal can, which can then be recycled, says Molly Kinson, environmental education coordinator.
A bonus for residents: Paint and household cleaners in good condition are saved and offered at the Reuse Center in the Environmental Services parking lot. There Frisco residents can take these second-hand items they need for free. Kinson says the paint is perfect for community groups needing it for projects, and works with Girl Scouts who use some of the refuse paint to decorate the collection bins at the Environmental Center.
Which brings us to those brightly decorated collection bins. With the Chunk Your Junk events operating at maximum capacity, city environmental staffers hope Frisco residents will remember that they can bring most recyclables — paper, cardboard, plastic, aluminum/tin, and glass to the collection center at any time during business hours: Monday through Friday from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. and Saturday from 8 a.m. to 1 p.m.
During regular hours, residents also have access to battery, plastic bag, and Styrofoam recycling containers, and they can even drop off used motor and cooking oil for recycling.
(Confused about what can be dropped off and when? Call Environmental Services ahead of time at 972-292-5900 or check Frisco’s Environmental Services website.)
So you don’t have to wait for a Chunk Your Junk event. Anytime you’ve got an urge to purge your garage, you can bring nearly any item to the Environmental Collection Center, during the above listed times. (Prescription drugs and paper shredding are two key exceptions. Drugs those must be turned in at CYJ events because police are needed to process these, and paper shredding is available at those events, but not during the weekly collections.)
Here’s the list of items you can bring for recycling or special handling during weekly collection times (you also can see the official list of collectable recyclables here):
- Household Hazardous Waste – household cleaners, such as items with bleach or other harsh chemicals,pool chemicals, herbicides, pesticides, paint, oil, gasoline, batteries, light bulbs (all kinds)
- Electronics — All types for recycling (there’s a $10 charge for computer monitors and $15 for TVs under 36”)
- Metal and Appliances,including Refrigerators (there’s a $40 charge for Freon removal)
- Plastic bags