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Old monitors, TVs can't be trashed

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As of last Saturday, dumping that old computer monitor in the trash can is illegal.

The Minnesota Legislature enacted a new law to address the environmental hazards of electronic gadget disposal and Wadena County is well prepared for the changes, according to county waste officials. The cathode-ray tube found in many computers and televisions contains harmful levels of lead, according to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. Starting July 1, the disposal of electronic products containing these tubes became illegal, although Deana Skov, solid waste director, said these changes will not have much of an effect on Wadena County residents.

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"It's pretty much business as usual as far as our county is concerned," Skov said about Wadena County's already existing electronic disposal policy. "I know that there are some counties who don't have programs in place, and they're going to be struggling a little bit."

Kurt Hoffman, pollution control specialist at the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency, said the law was supposed to go into effect last year but was put on an extension. He said counties had hoped the Legislature would pass a funding measure to manage this type of waste.

Skov said the Minnesota Legislature has not provided any funding for the new law requiring counties to recycle these materials.

"Even for us, it would be nice to have a little bit of help from the state for something that they've pretty much mandated to us," she said.

Hoffman said larger metro counties have recycled these electronics for a long time, but some rural counties may not have the stock pile area or funding to manage this mandate.

Wadena County has required residents to dispose of electronic equipment such as radios, copiers and printers as well as televisions and computers at the Wadena County Transfer Station since January 2005. Previously, the county conducted an annual pickup for these materials.

Electronics are now picked up year-round and the cost for disposal at the station is $5 per item for Wadena County residents. Skov said the county picks up the rest of the cost, which is more than double the resident's fee. People who live outside the county and commercial businesses pay $12 per item, because the expense to Wadena County is not assessed on their taxes. The county contracts S.W. Inc. to take the materials to a recycling plant in Wilmar.

Scott Carpenter, transfer station supervisor, said Wadena County residents are informed about the county's electronics recycling program and the station has had a good turnout for the program.

Hoffman said he is not sure yet what the consequences are of illegal disposal.

Skov said trash haulers do not pick up materials for waste disposal that should be recycled. She said sometimes a few items have to be sorted out of the waste stream before going into the landfill.

In addition to the Wadena Transfer Station, there are other ways residents can dispose of their used electronics.

• For a limited time, Dell computer systems is offering free recycling of outdated computers to customers who purchase a Dell Dimension desktop or Inspiron notebook.

They also offer electronics recycling at $15 per 50 pound box. Visit www.dell4me.com/recycling for more information.

• The Gateway Recycle Program awards customers up to $50 in rebates if they recycle or donate their old computer when they purchase a new Gateway PC. Call 1-800-GATEWAY for more information.

• Sony offers free recycling of its electronics at several Waste Management, Inc. sites in Minnesota. Check out www.moea.state.mn.us/plugin/sonyevents.cfm for further information on locations and times.

For additional information on electronics-related recycling events and services, visit www.moea.state.mn.us/plugin/recyclers-household.cfm.

sarah@wadenapj.com

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