EAST LIVERPOOL - At Heritage Thermal Industries and at the East Liverpool car barn on the city's East End, cars and trucks sat in long lines, their drivers patiently waiting not to receive something, but to give things away for free.
Frankly, they were all quite happy to get rid of them, too.
These people were participating in East Liverpool's 18th annual citySweep cleanup day on Saturday. At both sites, workers on-hand said it was shaping up to be the biggest event yet, with longer lines and more items to be collected for disposal than ever before.
Employees of Heritage Thermal Services in East Liverpool unloaded old televisions, computers and monitors from the back of this truck, one of dozens of vehicles that dropped off items to be properly disposed of as part of the 18th annual citySweep cleanup event on Saturday morning. (Photo by Richard Sberna)
Those items included old TVs, computers and monitors, household and lawn chemicals, used motor oil, paints and solvents, car batteries, and even fluorescent light bulbs. From there, the items would be recycled, incinerated or otherwise responsibly disposed of.
Raymond Wayne, public affairs specialist at Heritage Thermal, said the record turnout could be due to a number of factors, including the sunny and warm weather. Mostly though, Wayne believes that nearly two decades of holding the collection has driven home the importance of proper waste
disposal to residents.
"Thanks to events like this and others throughout the area and the country, awareness has built to where people are stockpiling materials for the collection events and taking it to be properly disposed of," he said.
Originally, only waste chemicals - such as household, yard and automotive materials - were accepted. In 2008, they also began collecting electronics, which Wayne says now account for the largest percentage of collected materials by a wide margin. This was evident from several rolling metal crates filled to overflowing with old televisions and computer equipment.
New for 2014, Heritage Thermal started accepting old prescription and over-the-counter medicines, too, as Saturday was also National Prescription Drug Take-Back Day. "We're trying to help out as much as we can," Wayne said of the effort.
Law enforcement officials were on hand to supervise the collection of pharmaceuticals, though no questions were asked of those who had drugs to give. A greater emphasis was placed on keeping the drugs out of local waterways and from reaching the hands of children, they said.
According to Wayne, an average 120 tons of combined materials are collected each year. With such a strong turnout on Saturday, however, he said that total would likely be surpassed this year.
At the city car barn on Pennsylvania Avenue, the story was much the same. A long line of vehicles filled with items to be disposed wound its way around the rear of the building.
Ken Burt, a worker with the East Liverpool Department of Refuse and Recycling for 19 years, says Saturday's collection was the biggest he has seen in his six years of working the event. With 172 vehicles unloaded as of 2 p.m., he said, "It's starting to catch on. People are starting to look forward to it."
The statistics seemed to confirm a good showing. There were six 30-yard containers, supplied by Dailey's Recycling & Refuse, already filled, with a fourth expected to join it.
When asked for an explanation for the uptick, Burt answered, "Community pride." As a city resident, he believes many people have simply grown tired of seeing old tires, furniture and other trash deposited by the roadside.