It all began on a spring day in 1993 at the Heymann Performing Arts Center parking lot. The first household chemical collection day sponsored by any local government in Acadiana was coordinated by the city of Lafayette and Lafayette Parish Government three years prior to consolidation of the two then-separate forms of government. "Bring it Back" was the name given to the event, and 350 cars came out to drop off 26 tons of old paint, poison, and chemical cleaners, according to Lafayette Consolidated Government Environmental Quality Manager Mark Pope.
The next scheduled chemical drop-off day is set for Saturday, April 27 at the Cajun Field parking lot. The event is scheduled from 8 a.m. until noon. Only residents in the city of Lafayette and in unincorporated areas of Lafayette Parish can attend. Businesses are not allowed to drop chemicals at the event, which is sponsored by Lafayette Consolidated Government's Environmental Quality Division and Allied Waste.
"The event has always been immensely popular. Lafayette citizens respond well to environmental programs that our division sponsors. They know that putting chemicals into the garbage can bring unintended consequences, creating both human health threats and environmental hazards," according to Pope.
The chemical collections were held the first 12 years of the program at Lafayette Consolidated Government’s vehicle maintenance facility, located one block off of Pinhook Rd. at 400 Dorset Ave. "With each successive year, the traffic flow got heavier. We could reasonably accommodate 300-350 cars at a collection event at vehicle maintenance, but the last two events at this location consisted of 906 and 1,000 cars that came to drop chemicals," Pope said. Traffic from the last drop-off events at Dorset Ave. was backed up entirely down the half-mile stretch of Dorset, and the traffic backlog was 10-12 cars deep on both lanes of Pinhook Rd., accessing Dorset Ave. The traffic backlog at vehicle maintenance prompted officials with Consolidated Government to contact the University of Louisiana about using the Cajun Field Parking lot to stage the chemical collection event.
In March of 2006, the first chemical collection day happened at Cajun Field. One thousand cars brought in 57 tons of chemicals. The new location, according to Pope, is perfectly suited for the event. Even with 1,000 cars going to drop chemicals, traffic flow is smooth and efficient. "The maximum time to get through the line of cars at Cajun Field is 30 minutes, and that compared with the two-plus hour wait at our vehicle maintenance facility is phenomenally efficient," he said.
Since the inception of the program, the average turnout at each event is 732 cars, and the average quantity of chemicals collected at each event is 35 tons.
Computer and electronic collection was implemented with the first chemical collection event at Cajun Field in 2006. Pope says that a recent development for electronic recycling in Lafayette is good news for the public. Louisiana Scrap Metal at 2200 Cameron St. is now accepting electronics from the general public for recycling. There is no charge to drop electronics at Louisiana Scrap Metal.
The complete list of household chemicals and electronics that will be accepted at the chemical collection on April 27 can be seen at lafayettela.gov.