Education and outreach are key components of DWMRC programs. The Division educates businesses and residents on the proper disposal/recycling of solid and hazardous wastes to prevent soil and groundwater contamination from the improper storage or disposal of wastes. The used oil and waste tire programs, for example, have dramatically reduced the health hazards from these two waste streams and helped encourage proper disposal and recycling of these materials.
DWMRC provides comprehensive information on the management of household hazardous waste, recycling, pollution prevention, and best management practices (BMPs) for specific businesses. The used oil and small hazardous waste generator programs offer presentations and training to the public and businesses as part of their public outreach efforts. The Indoor Radon Program is dedicated to providing the public with the tools to recognize and remediate elevated levels of radon in homes and schools.
The Used Oil Program makes it easier for do-it-yourselfers (DIY-ers) to properly dispose of used oil, thanks to its extensive public education and outreach program and collaboration with Utah’s 13 local health departments. Over 400 locations throughout the state accept used oil, many of them private companies that have registered with DWMRC as collection centers. A reimbursement program provides financial incentives for businesses collecting and recycling used oil. The Used Oil program provides basic used-oil and pollution-prevention training for businesses, community groups, professional organizations, and schools, along with short videos that explain how and where to recycle used oil.
The Waste Tire Program oversees the storage, disposal, and recycling of waste tires to reduce health and safety hazards, decrease the number of tires in landfills, and encourage the tire recycling industry. The Waste Tire Recycling Fund provides partial reimbursement of the cost of transporting, processing, recycling, and disposing of waste tires. Since program inception in 1991, tire recycling has increased dramatically. Most of these tires are recycled or processed within the state at six registered tire recyclers.
Success Story: Lee Kay Ponds Tire Cleanup
The Waste Tire Program was created to address concerns about stockpiles of waste tires and the threat of fire they posed. In response, the Utah Legislature passed the Utah Waste Tire Recycling Act in 1990, which provides $1 per used tire to fund the program.
Waste-tire management has two components: regulation and cleanup. DWMRC registers and monitors waste tire transporters and recyclers to ensure compliance with regulations; it also surveys the state for tire piles and oversees tire-storage facilities. When illegal tire piles are found, it takes enforcement actions. The Division also oversees cleanup and removal of waste tire piles—those considered abandoned as well as those created at municipal landfills.
Tina Mercer oversees the Waste Tire Program. She works with waste-tire recyclers and local health departments to ensure old tires are recycled. This successful partnership has established a network of transporters, processors, and end users to prevent illegal dumping and encourage the proper disposal of waste tires.
In January 2018, Tina started receiving complaints about an illegal tire dump at Lee Kay Ponds at approximately 6600 West 1300 South in Salt Lake City. Visitors to the pond — a popular bird watching spot — reported a large number of old tires dumped along the shores. Mixed in with the tires were mattresses, construction material, and an RV.
Getting the tires cleaned up wasn’t as easy as sending out a garbage truck. The pond fell under numerous jurisdictions, including Salt Lake City, West Valley City, and state and federal lands. Tina worked with the different governing groups to identify solutions. After several months, the land around the pond dried up enough to bring in heavy trucks. City, county and state agencies all pitched in to pay for the cleanup. The tires were hauled away and sorted. The clean tires were sent to recyclers. Tires that were too packed with mud went to the landfill.
Since the tires were most likely dumped by many different violators, there was little chance of prosecuting the offenders. Efforts are now underway to protect the spot from repeat dumping.
Small-quantity Generators of Hazardous Waste
DWMRC provides compliance assistance for small businesses that generate less than 2,200 pounds of hazardous waste per month. This program has been successful in helping small businesses understand the requirements necessary for compliance with the hazardous waste management rules specific to small businesses. Although DWMRC visits approximately 150 companies a year through this program, there remain many small generators that are not aware of the compliance assistance program. The Division collects information about these other small quantity generators through trade associations, word-of-mouth, and complaints received from neighbors. The aim is to educate these small waste generators on the proper disposal of hazardous wastes to protect their workers and the environment.
Success Story: Training and Outreach across Utah
Hazardous waste rules can be complex and confusing. But sometimes all that small hazardous-waste generators need is a chance to hear from DEQ staff and ask questions. That’s why Alex Pashley and Tom Ball offer training to companies to help them understand the rules, see how the rules apply to their facility and find out what they need to do to meet their regulatory requirements. Alex and Tom take their training “on-the-road,” making presentations in college classrooms, company lunch rooms, and conference rooms. After a recent training presentation, Dr. Leon Pahler from the Rocky Mountain Center for Occupational and Environmental Health said,
“Thank you very much for taking the time out of your schedules to present the RCRA and used oil topics. The students received valuable information that you presented.”
The training is available to anyone who requests it and takes anywhere from one to two hours to complete.
Tom Ball conducts outreach with local health departments, local emergency-planning commissions, and the Governor’s Public Safety Summit to help these organizations understand what DWMRC does. Tom makes presentations at Salt Lake Community College to introductory engineering students to provide them with an overview of DEQ along specifics about DWMRC and the types of engineers DEQ employs and their job responsibilities.
The Division also gives presentations on a regular basis to high school science and drivers-education classes around the state, including Richfield High School, Cyprus High School, and Ogden High School.
“Tom has visited my classroom over the last couple of years. The information provided covers important information for my class. Our students need to understand the importance of taking care of our environment. Tom’s presentation helps students understand that important topic.”
–Corey Morrison, Richfield High School
“I’m so appreciative of the opportunity to use Tom as a resource in my Environmental Science classroom. Not only was he flexible in his scheduling, but he was engaging and informative. He provided a powerful first-hand account of what scientists can do in our community while presenting real-world, tangible examples of human impacts on our environment. Thank you so much for making this resource available to my students!”
–Sara Byrd, Ogden High School
Electronic waste (E-waste)
Electronics are the fastest growing waste stream in the country. Americans discarded around 11.7 million tons of electronics in 2014, the last year data were available. DWMRC is particularly concerned about the mismanagement of recycled and discarded Cathode Ray Tube (CRT) television and computer monitors. E-waste contains a wide range of hazardous materials, including heavy metals such as lead, mercury, and cadmium. CRT screens, in particular, contain high levels of lead. Improperly disposed e-waste can end up in landfills where these toxic substances can contaminate soils and groundwater.
To combat this problem and inform the public of environmentally safer options, DWMRC publicizes electronic recycling events, maintains a list of recycling centers that accept electronics, and identifies manufacturers that participate in electronics take-back programs. The Division also inspects electronics recyclers to ensure they are managing recycled electronics appropriately.