By Melissa Klaric
Herald Staff Writer
MERCER COUNTY —
It’s illegal to dispose of electronic waste in your weekly trash bin because the high amount of lead in those items could leach into groundwater and contaminate it.
In January, the state Department of Environmental Protection told all garbage disposal companies, including Tri-County Industries Inc., Allied Waste and Waste Management Inc., that they could no longer pick up hazardous e-waste, including TVs, fax machines and computers.
Until now, residents who need to get rid of nonworking or outdated e-waste had to wait for special electronics recycling events, held on area college campuses or sponsored by local organizations. Such events often required fees of $8 to $15 and higher for each item.
This week, Mercer County officials announced a partnership with the Lawrence-Mercer Recycling/Solid Waste Authority that establishes two year-round e-waste recycling sites – one in New Castle and one at an undisclosed location about a mile north of Mercer.
The first Mercer County collection is set for 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. June 26.
These items will be recycled for free: cell phones; televisions of all types and sizes; and computers and their components – towers, monitors, scanners, mice, keyboards and speakers.
All other small electronics can be recycled for $1 each. They include: VCRs and DVD players, CD and tape players, radios, sweepers and vacuums, microwaves, telephones and phone systems, and pagers.
The program is open to all residents regardless of municipality or county. But, due to storage limitations, only the first 50 people to apply will be accepted for each event. Those who don’t make the cut will have to wait for the next e-waste event and reapply.
After registering, those who are accepted will receive an appointment time, the exact location, and directions to the site.
“Our goal with this program is to offer smaller collections more frequently,” Jerry P. Zona, executive director of Lawrence-Mercer Counties Recycling/Solid Waste Authority and Tri-County Cleanways, said in an e-mail announcing the program.
Local municipalities do not have any regularly scheduled e-waste dropoff sites, but officials are concerned about e-waste dumping.
City Manager Scott Andrejchak said Sharon bought a portable camera to help catch people disgarding electronics and dumping other litter like tires. He said the camera can focus in so closely it can read a license plate.
Those littering or illegally disposing of e-waste could be cited and fined, Andrejchak said.
To register for the June 26 e-waste recycling event, fill out a form online at www.co.lawrence.pa.us or call 724-658-6925. Future events willl be announced.