A pouring rain didn’t stop residents from recycling their kitchen grease and old medications Saturday at the Kmart on Airport Thruway and Macon Road.
Gwendolyn Russell, the corporate and community programs coordinator for the Columbus Water Works, said residents gathered at the Macon Road location before collection started at 10 a.m. “So far, it’s been steady with people coming in with expired drugs and grease,” she said.
With help from the Keep Columbus Beautiful Commission and the Muscogee County Sheriff’s Department, organizers said the event was aimed at keeping cooking grease out of the sewer system and preventing costly drain repairs. Collection of old prescriptions, over-the-counter and veterinary medications helps keep the waterways clean.
Shortly before the crews closed the collection on Airport Thruway at 2 p.m., Chris Cornett said more than 100 gallons of grease were collected and nine bags of prescription drugs collected.
Cornett said volunteers collected everything from the powerful pain reliever oxycontin to valium and viagra, the drug used to treat erectile dysfunction in men. “We’ve seen bags of viagra and valium,” he said. “We get everything.”
While people came out in the rain, Cornett said the weather may have played a role in collections. Last year in August, the Water Works collected more than 400 gallons of used cooking oil, said Cornett, pretreatment coordinator for the utility.
“We had a lot more drugs,” Cornett said of the Airport Thruway location on Saturday. “Some people normally have three, four gallons of oil. They may not have a half gallon since we have done it twice a year.”
Beverly Kinner, chair of the Keep Columbus Beautiful Commission, said the response of residents shows the collection program is working. “So many people talk about neighbors,” she said. “Just flush it down the toilet. We have got to educate.”
The Water Works will recycle the cooking oil to make methane and help power the South Columbus Water Resource Facility.