It might be an overstatement to say that the city of Palo Alto's Reuse Zone proves that one person's trash is another's treasure, but the area at the city's Household Hazardous Waste Station (HHW) does offer an opportunity for residents to make use of items that others have dropped off.
The newly expanded Reuse Zone, which celebrates its opening on Thursday, Nov. 7, at 10 a.m., features items such as unused motor oil and gently used household cleaners and paints that Palo Alto residents can take home for free. Mayor Eric Filseth will lead the ribbon-cutting ceremony at the Household Hazardous Waste Station, located at 2501 Embarcadero Way, Palo Alto.
"Reuse is better than recycling," Elise Sbarbori, the city's manager of environmental control programs, stated in a news release. "Many of the items brought into the HHW Station for disposal are in good condition and typically come from a small home project that doesn't require the whole can of paint, or a move where someone must clear out their cleaning supplies. Before discarding or even recycling these items they should be used to completion, which is the best use of the products and the resources it takes to create them."
Clean Harbors, the contracted operator of the HHW Station, is responsible for screening the donated items for quality and then filling the Reuse Zone with all the usable household products. The new, larger storage shed was designed in-house by employees and custom built by Ideal Environmental.
"By expanding the existing reuse program and encouraging the public to participate, we hope household items that would otherwise be discarded are used for their intended purpose," said Phil Bobel, assistant director of public works. "The city has a high participation rate in its HHW Program. We want to increase participation and bring more awareness to waste minimization and the proper disposal of hazardous wastes."
Last year the Reuse Zone was able to divert over 5,000 pounds of materials from being incinerated or trucked to other states. The Waste Station overall receives approximately 250,000 pounds of hazardous waste per year from residents, recycling about 70% of that, Bobel said.
The Reuse Zone is open to the public during regular Waste Station Hours: Saturdays from 9-11 a.m. and on the first Friday of each month from 3-5 p.m. Visitors picking up reused products can take up to five items per visit.
More information is available by calling 650-496-5910 or visiting cityofpaloalto.org and searching for "reuse zone."