By Melissa Klaric
Herald Staff Writer
MERCER COUNTY —
A countywide plan is expected to be in place no later than June for people to drop off such electronic waste as old computers and televisions to a specified center in their municipality – free of charge.
Jerry Zona, executive director of Lawrence-Mercer Counties Recycling/Solid Waste Department, is working with Tri-County Cleanways, a nonprofit recycling company, which will properly dispose of the e-waste.
Once Zona’s office works out the details with Tri-County Cleanways, he will pass along the information to municipalities in both counties.
Sharon, Farrell and Hermitage are already on board with the free e-waste recycling program. Zona believes the boroughs such as Greenville and Grove City will also participate.
“I’m pretty optimistic about (municipalities joining in) because no charges are involved,” Zona said.
In January, the state Department of Environmental Protection made it illegal for all garbage disposal companies, such as Tri-County Industries Inc. and Waste Management Inc. to pick up hazardous e-waste, including TVs; computers and their components, such as monitors, keyboards, mouse, printers and fax machines.
The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency has determined the high amount of lead in those products can leach into groundwater and contaminate it.
“People need to know that this is hazardous,” said Joe Santell, Farrell fire chief and head of the street department.
Santell said city residents continue to leave their TVs and computers out with their trash or dump them in fields, which is very dangerous.
“The typical amount of lead is 4 to 8 pounds in a TV set or computer monitor. The recycling companies remove the lead, but offer the free service for the precious metals of value also in these devices,” Zona said.
Zona added, “You can take it to different places that will charge by the pound to take it off your hands,” which can become expensive because some old TVs weigh as much as 100 pounds and more.
Zona wants to have the program in place as soon as possible.
“We are fielding about a dozen calls a day so this issue has jumped to the top of our list. Almost every reaction from people is positive. They are happy to hold onto them until the contract with Tri-County Cleanways is worked out or they can go to free events like at Westminster,” Zona said.
E-waste and be dropped off for free from 9 a.m. to noon April 20 at the Hoyt Science Center loading dock at Westminster College, New Wilmington.
For a small fee, items can be dropped off from noon to 5 p.m. April 13 in the Penn State Shenango faculty parking lot located on Penn Avenue next to the science building.