Tires, fridges and chemicals, oh my
La PORTE – Truckloads of old tires, appliances, household chemicals and other hazardous waste found themselves out of local homes and garages – and landfills – thanks to the combined efforts of the La Porte County Solid Waste District and county residents last weekend.
Vehicle after vehicle lined up outside the La Porte County Fairgrounds during the SWD’s bi-annual 5-in-1 collection. Around 40 crew members assisted residents in unloading old and unwanted tires, electronics and household hazardous waste, which partner companies collected for safe disposal.
Thanks to a partnership with Elkhart’s Integra Certified Document Destruction, the event also provided secure paper shredding.
Boosted by some great weather, the 5-in-1 recycling event was a great success, organizers said. Around 1,170 vehicles stopped by, dropping off more than 2,000 tires and shredding two full truckloads of paper, Sacha Gee-Burns, environmental educator and public outreach coordinator for the district, said.
The agency has conducted the 5-in-1 events, formerly known as “tire and white goods” collections, since 1991, Gee-Burns said. They are an extension of the household hazardous waste collections the agency hosts several times each year, aimed at helping residents get rid of items that are hard to dispose of safely, such as refrigerators or TVs.
“We contract with different companies to make sure (the items) are taken where they are supposed to be instead of ending up on the side of the road or taking up space in a landfill,” Gee-Burns said.
Besides Integra, the district partnered with Green Wave Computer Recycling, Liberty Tire Recycling, Scrappy Iron & Metal Recycling and Tradebe Environmental Services for Saturday’s event. Employees with each company assisted SWD employees, some wearing protective gear while sorting through the different chemicals residents dropped off.
Tire collection, in particular, continues to grow in popularity among residents who take advantage of the 5-in-1 events, Gee-Burns said. Many who stopped by the fairgrounds also dropped off old fridges and freezers, as the district does not charge residents for freon removal, she added.
The 5-in-1 and household hazardous waste collections – which run once a month May through October – are one of the main ways the district helps residents keep electronics, paper products and chemicals out of landfills.
“It’s amazing to see how much of what is thrown away could have been recycled or reused,” Gee-Burns said.
Not only does improper disposal of these objects possibly harm the environment – or, at the very least, take up space in the junkyard – it also prevents their reuse in other products, she said.
In addition to the collections and its curbside recycling program, the SWD also hosts an annual Master Recycler class, a free five-week course in which participants learn more about recycling, composting and household hazardous waste. Since introducing the program in 2016, around 50 residents have graduated and gone on to share more about the importance of recycling with their churches, workplaces and neighbors, Gee-Burns said.
Registration is open for the next class, which begins on June 4. The fall 5-in-1 collection will take place at the fairgrounds from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. Saturday, Sept. 21, while the next household hazardous waste event will take place from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. Saturday, June 22, also at the fairgrounds.
Those with questions about recycling or safe disposal of potentially hazardous materials are welcome to visit the Solid Waste District at 2857 W. Ind. 2 in La Porte, or call 326-0014. Residents are also welcome to drop off old or unwanted electronics at the agency’s La Porte office from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. Monday through Friday; or at its Michigan City trailer at 1027 Hitchcock Road from 7 a.m. to 3 p.m. Monday through Friday.
“We thank everyone who supports what we do,” Gee-Burns said. “You help us further our mission and make better changes around us.”