It marks the second part of the Indiana Electronic Waste Program, which makes it illegal to knowingly mix electronic devices such as computers, printers or televisions with municipal waste intended for disposal at a landfill or an incinerator.
Carey Hamilton, executive director of the Indiana Recycling Coalition, which spearheaded the law, said this portion of the law follows the first part of the legislation, which makes manufacturers of these electronics responsible for collecting and recycling 60 percent of the weight of the items they sell in the state. The first portion went into effect in July 2009.
There are no penalties or sanctions for violating the new law, giving it little enforcement teeth, Hamilton acknowledged. However, she said the goal was not to go in with a heavy hand, but to get manufacturers to pay for electronics recycling, to set up good recycling sites in Indiana and to raise the awareness and education about the importance of recycling electronics, also called “e-cycling.”
She said the first year was a success, with more than 22 million pounds of electronics properly and safely recycled.
“One of the great benefits to this law is that it provided funding for a previously unfunded need,” Hamilton said.
In Northwest Indiana, there are a number of options for residents, including curbside electronics recycling in some cities and disposal at various communities’ public works facilities and some electronics sellers’ locations for those without the curbside service.
Both Valparaiso and Portage have taken proactive stances regarding electronics recycling, already having curbside electronics pickup in place.
“This needs to be a part of peoples’ consciousness. Over the next several months and year we will do everything we can to make it easy for our residents to comply with the law. We really want to divert these products from the landfill,” Valparaiso Public Works director Matthew Evans said.
He said the city doesn’t have any designated recycle bin for electronics, but computer monitors, fax machines and the like can be set on the ground next to the trash can. Small electronics can be taken to the public works site, 406 Don Hovey Drive.
He said the items are held at the public works garage until a significant amount is collected, then the items are taken to the Recycling and Waste Reduction District of Porter County.
Hamilton said used electronics are ultimately taken to one of several certified electronics recycling businesses in the state.
Portage also has curbside recycling for residents and accepts used electronics from those residing outside the city at its garage free of charge, street department clerk Donielle Maxin said. Items can be dropped off at the street department, 2303 Hamstrom Road, from 7 a.m. to 3 p.m. Monday through Friday.
Hobart has sent out memos to residents indicating it would no longer pick up electronics with regular trash collection due to the state law. Assistant director of Public Works John Dubach said residents and nonresidents can continue to bring old electronics to the city yard, 1840 E. Indiana 130, from 7 a.m. to 2:45 p.m. Monday through Friday and from 8 a.m. to 11:45 a.m. Saturday
“This is not a big change for us. We’ve had electronics recycling for more than a year as part of the program with the Lake County Solid Waste Management District,” Dubach said.
“Electronics shouldn’t be in the garbage. There’s no reason for it,” Dubach said. “Every piece of electronics that is not recycled ends up in the landfill and this has to stop.”
Rob Elstro, spokesman for Indiana Department of Environmental Management, said e-cycling is important because electronics break down under the pressure, heat and corrosive elements present in landfills, causing heavy metals — including lead, mercury and cadmium — and other undesirable byproducts to be found in landfill leachate.
Click here to view the article in the Merrillville Post-Tribune, which includes a listing of locations for recycling electronics.