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 in 1993, 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.
Today, residents in the city of Lafayette and in unincorporated areas of Lafayette Parish can attend, and businesses are not allowed to drop chemicals at the event, which is sponsored by Lafayette Consolidated Government’s Environmental Quality Division.
“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. 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. Computers and electronic devices with a computer chip will be collected for recycling on Oct. 19 at Cajun Field.
The complete list of household chemicals and electronics that will be accepted at the chemical collection on Oct. 19 can be seen at lafayettela.gov.