A new permanent facility to dispose household-hazardous waste (HHW), such as batteries, paint, pesticides, oils, pills, sharps (such as needles and syringes) and other materials, is expected to open early next year in Signal Hill as part of a partnership between EDCO (known locally as Signal Hill Disposal), Los Angeles County and the Long Beach Environmental Services Bureau.
The new facility will be located at EDCO’s recently opened municipal solid-waste material-recovery facility and transfer station on Patterson Street and California Avenue. The new HHW center will be opened in mid-January after the project goes before the Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors in December for final approval.
Originally, the City of Long Beach had planned to build its own HHW center across the street from EDCO’s 68,000-square-foot transfer center. However, EDCO, the County and Long Beach decided to combine their efforts.
On Nov. 20, the Long Beach City Council officially approved entering into an agreement with the County of Los Angeles Department of Public Works, the Los Angeles County Sanitation District and EDCO to move forward with the project.
The environmental services bureau began designing plans to build an HHW facility after being awarded a one-time $400,000 grant from the state’s CalRecycle department to build a facility and purchase equipment for an HHW collection and transfer site convenient for Long Beach residents.
In March last year, the City Council agreed to use the grant funding to reimburse EDCO for redesign expenses and extending a fixed canopy for the HHW facility.
Jim Kuhl, manager of the Long Beach Environmental Services Bureau, said the partnership ended up saving the City of Long Beach more than $3 million that would have otherwise gone to build a new facility. “Through EDCO agreeing to host that facility, it was a great deal for everyone,” he said. “For Long Beach residents, our number-one request for services is a permanent household-hazardous waste facility.”
Kuhl said EDCO originally had planned to build a smaller HHW facility, but the grant funds were able to pay for a larger facility and additional equipment such as storage containers and forklifts. The annual operating costs of the facility are being funded by the County through a surcharge on disposal fees at landfills and other disposal sites, which is typically how such programs are funded throughout the county, Kuhl said.
Seventh District Long Beach City Councilmember James Johnson said during the council meeting this month that having a convenient facility will ultimately encourage more residents to dispose of such waste properly. “When you have a place to do this locally, not only is it convenient for residents, but it’s more likely residents will do the right thing and dispose of them properly as opposed to dumping them in the trash or disposing of them improperly in ways we contaminate our waterways, soil and environment,” he said.
Efrain Ramirez, vice president and general manager of EDCO, said the HHW collection facility should be a “tremendous benefit” for environment and area residents. He said the center, however, is to be open on a limited basis at first, depending on funds available. “To dispose of household-hazardous waste is a bit expensive,” he said. “It’s better to start slow and incremental.”
According to a city staff report, the County will be contracting with a vendor to manage the collection of the HHW, and the facility will be open on the second Saturday of each month, available for all County residents. Efrain said EDCO’s transfer center is currently authorized to handle 1,500 tons of material, including recyclables and trash, per day. Just around the corner, on 28th Street and California Avenue, EDCO opened its 19,000-square-foot administration building and truck terminal in mid-October.