Waste management district gets grant

By Paul Ploumis

GREENFIELD — The Hancock County Solid Waste Management District received a grant from the Indiana Department of Environmental Management to fund its continued efforts to facilitate electronics recycling.

Hancock County was one of 21 recipients of the grant, receiving $6,250. The state awarded a total of $444,435 to counties, municipalities, solid waste management districts, schools and nonprofit organizations.

“The Community Recycling Grants are a great way for IDEM to promote and encourage recycling at the local level,” IDEM Commissioner Bruno Pigott said. “IDEM is proud to work with communities to promote recycling throughout the state.”

Dede Allender, director of the Solid Waste Management District, said the grant will pay about 50% of the district’s expenses for the electronics recycling events it plans to hold this year. The first of four scheduled events was held on Saturday, April 24.

Allender said the district has held two events per year in the past, but canceled its spring event in 2020 due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Then, with months spent at home during social distancing, many people upgraded their electronics, like game consoles and televisions, which they were using to pass the time.

“We got a huge response to our fall event,” Allender said.

In response to that high demand, the district decided to host two additional events in 2021. The first will be held at the New Palestine Town Hall from 9 a.m. to noon May 22, and the second at the Fortville Town Hall from 9 a.m. to noon June 19.

The grant from IDEM, Allender said, will mean less of the expense from hosting those additional events falls on the waste management district.

Allender said she was happy with the turnout at the Saturday event, which went smoothly, with 391 people turning in electronics. She added that it is important for electronics recycling events to be widely available and publicized.

“You are not supposed to throw away any electronics into the trash — I don’t know if people know that,” Allender said.

When electronics are recycled, they can be stripped down to reuse materials like copper, silver, gold and palladium. When thrown away, there is a risk of environmental contamination due to the presence of lead, heavy metals and other potentially toxic materials.

“Donating or recycling consumer electronics conserves our natural resources and avoids air and water pollution, as well as greenhouse gas emissions that are caused by manufacturing virgin materials,” the Environmental Protection Agency’s website states.