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'Tis the Season to Reduce E-Waste

December 15, 2011

INDIANAPOLIS - 'Tis the season for buying the latest electronic gadgets, such as flat-panel televisions, computers, cell phones and devices for the children. But disposing of the old gadgets is a problem - and considered the fastest growing category of municipal solid waste.

Robert Elstro, spokesman for the Indiana Department of Environmental Management, has a warning:

"Indiana has a new law which prohibits the disposal of electronic items through the normal trash collection. So, if you put a TV or computer or other large item on the curb, it may still be there after all your other trash is gone."

One way to make sure old electronics don't get thrown in the landfill, Elstro says, is by giving working items to friends or family.

"There's also charities or nonprofit organizations that hold collection drives that can reuse or refurbish some e-waste items. As far as the recycling option, you can check with a business that sells items to see if they can recycle it for you."

If you run out of options, he says, you can check with your solid-waste district to find out about e-waste disposal.

Elstro suggests going to IDEM's website to find out how to contact your solid-waste district and get other recycling information.

"Not just where you can take e-waste, but where you can recycle your Christmas tree, as well as reuse opportunities like taking today's Christmas cards and turning them into next year's gift tags for your presents."

It's estimated that 300 million electronic items are thrown out each year and less than 20 percent of that e-waste is recycled or reused.

The IDEM website is recycle.IN.gov.

Leigh DeNoon, Public News Service - IN