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Two separate hazardous waste collections are in the works this year in Burnet County. The first, a countywide Batteries, Oil, Paint, Antifreeze, Tires, and Electronics (BOPATE) collection is April 23 at the Burnet County Reuse and Recycle Center, 2411 FM 963 in Burnet. 

And county commissioners have a target date of Oct. 15 for a household hazardous waste collection. More information for both events will be published on the Burnet County website as details are ironed out. 

Incorrectly disposing of hazardous materials such as antifreeze, oil-based paints, batteries, and other chemicals can have a detrimental impact on the environment, which is why Burnet County hosts public collections.  

“Improper disposal will affect our groundwater, our surface water, and our environment as a whole,” Precinct 2 Commissioner Damon Beierle told “It impacts the natural resources we have, so it’s really important that we do things correctly.”

Currently, the county has no permanent drop-off location for potentially dangerous chemicals and other hazardous waste, meaning residents have to drive into Austin or visit individual organizations for recycling and disposal services. 

Commissioners hope to eventually hold these collections annually. The county held a household waste collection in October 2021.

“That’s why, this year, we’re having a BOPATE in April,” Beierle said. “We want to schedule another household hazardous waste (event) in October. I would like to see us host one every year until the need decreases, but I don’t think it ever will.” 

The difference between the two collections is in the materials accepted at each. A BOPATE collection is limited to the materials listed in its name. A household hazardous waste collection accepts a wider variety of materials. 

“(During a household hazardous waste collection), we do everything we would do at a BOPATE but with the addition of items falling on the chemical side, like herbicides, oil paint, paint thinner,” Beierle said. 

The county hires subcontractors to pick up waste items during each collection. Companies involved include Goodwill, which reuses discarded electronics; Reliable Tire Disposal, a tire recycling service at 3345 Texas 29 in Burnet; and Clean Earth, which safely disposes of hazardous waste. 

County residents can drop off items for free, but the services associated with the event ring up a bill, Beierle said. BOPATEs usually cost the county about $25,000 each, while household hazardous waste collections are closer to $100,000 due to costs associated with bringing in trained mobilization units to dispose of chemicals. The October 2021 collection cost $86,478.68. 

Costs are covered through a combination of tax dollars, grant funding, and donations from groups such as the Central Texas Groundwater Conservation District, whose mission is to protect groundwater in the area; Hanson Aggregates, a rock-crushing plant in Burnet; and the Lower Colorado River Authority. 

This year, commissioners are working to find additional grants and donations to mitigate county costs. 

“The more we can limit the amount of tax dollars we spend on these types of events, the more sustainable we can make them,” Beierle said. “That’s always our goal.”