NORTH TEXAS (CBSDFW.COM) – Every year, U.S. landfills are packed with over 100 million tons of waste. And many times, consumers are unnecessarily adding to the environmental footprint of these landfills by throwing away items that don’t belong.

“You know… things like paint or oil or any liquid shouldn’t come to the landfill at all. Other materials, batteries, tires, those kind of things they shouldn’t come to a landfill,” says Dave Hildreth Division Manager with Republic Services in Arlington.

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So how should you dispose of such items? Your North Texas city may have just the answer thanks to local programs that are in place.

Sunanda Katragaeda, Environmental Services Administrator with the City of Arlington explains, “The City of Arlington specifically has an agreement with the Fort Worth Environmental Collection Center where Arlington residents can go and drop off these items for free.”

Free of charge with just a little bit of extra effort. Because if we don’t go the extra mile to dispose of these items properly, it hurts not only the environment but Katragaeda says that other items like pool cleaners, medical waste, and fluorescent light bulbs can pose a health risk to waste collectors and potentially damage their vehicles when thrown in the regular trash stream.

But there are other, non-hazardous items that can be delivered to landfills separately and used again in another way. Hildreth encourages local residents to drop off items like concrete, wood, and yard brush separately. Landfills have programs in place to ensure that these items don’t go to waste.

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“We pull about a half a million tons a year of concrete out of the waste stream and repurpose it as gravel. We pull close to 100,000 tons a year of yard waste and brush and leaves out of the waste stream and repurpose it for compost,” says Hildreth.

The ultimate goal is to reuse, recycle, and repurpose. And if none of those fit the bill, then throw it away.

“That’s how we reduce the amount of trash that goes into landfill, how you make it last longer, how you make a more sustainable solid waste plan for the whole community,” explains Hildreth.

He goes on to confirm, “We’re always going to have landfills and be somewhat dependent on them for a portion of the waste stream. But to be really sustainable and to have a good sustainable solid waste process in our system, we have to put the extra effort into it.”

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We can all do our part by not contaminating landfills with items that could be recycled or disposed of in a different manner. Please check your city’s recycling and trash program for specific ways to dispose of hazardous waste.