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April 22, 2008

On Earth Day, Gov. Blagojevich urges responsible disposal of unused pharmaceuticals, electronic equipment and household hazardous waste
Disposal alternatives protect environment from harmful toxins, save natural resources and can reduce costs for the state and for individuals

CHICAGO – On Earth Day, Governor Rod R. Blagojevich is encouraging individuals and businesses in Illinois to do their part to protect our state’s natural resources by taking advantage of safe and environmentally-friendly options for recycling or disposing of unwanted medications, old electronics and potentially hazardous household waste.  Recent news stories have raised concerns about contaminants like pharmaceuticals and DEET, a common insect repellent ingredient, making their way into the nation’s drinking water supply.  The State of Illinois and its many local cosponsors offer Household Hazardous Waste collection sites for unused pharmaceuticals, household hazardous waste, mercury, and other items that are potentially harmful to the environment and the public, as well as guidance for personal recycling programs.
“Today is a day set aside to recognize the importance of a clean environment and to commit ourselves to doing what we can to be good stewards of our precious natural resources.  As a state, we are focused on reducing greenhouse gases, cleaning up illegal dumps across the state, slashing mercury emissions, and cleaning up brownfields.  But every one of us, as individuals, can make a difference as well,” said Governor Blagojevich.  “I think most people want to do their part to protect our environment, but they don’t know how.  The State of Illinois is trying to make it easier to be green.”
The Governor encourages Illinoisans to take advantage of the Illinois Environment Protection Agency’s Household Hazardous Waste collection events held around the state.  The Household Hazardous Waste collections give people an opportunity to properly dispose of a wide range of household hazardous wastes that can contaminate the environment: oil-based paints, thinners, chemical cleaners, old medicine and unused pharmaceuticals, mercury thermometers, antifreeze, motor oil, gasoline, kerosene, weed killers, insecticides, pesticides, adhesives, hobby chemicals, household batteries, and fluorescent light bulbs.  Most items can be recycled and diverted from landfills, but those that cannot are disposed of safely.  The program, which began in 1989, has already served nearly 400,000 households.  Since the program’s inception, almost 440 one-day events have been held, and over 76,000 fifty-five gallon drums of toxic materials have been collected from Illinois citizens.
Upcoming scheduled collections:
April 26:  Mendota, City Parking Lot, 1100 Meriden Street
May 3:  Exposition Gardens, 1601 W. Northmoor Road, Peoria
May 3: Public Works Facility, 985 S. Riverside Drive, Elmhurst
For more information on IEPA Household Hazardous Waste collections or tips on safe disposal, please visit the Illinois EPA website at www.epa.state.il.us/ or call the Illinois EPA’s Waste Reduction Unit at 217/785-8604.
In addition to the Household Hazardous Waste collection events held across the state, four permanent household hazardous waste collection facilities are located in Rockford, Naperville, Chicago and Lake County, which also accept pharmaceutical waste.
Naperville:  1971 Brookdale Road, Fire Station No. 4, phone 630/420-4190                     
Rockford: 3333 Kishwaukee, Rock River Reclamation District, phone 815/967-6737
City of Chicago:  1150 N. North Branch on Goose Island, www.cityofchicago.org, phone 312/744-7672
Lake County:  Information and a collection schedule are at the Solid Waste Agency of Lake County web site: www.co.lake.il.us/swalco , phone 847/336-9340.
“The program is beneficial not only to citizens who are able to get potentially harmful chemicals out of their homes; but also to the environment by keeping those chemicals out of landfills through various treatment technologies and recycling,” said Director Scott.  “This continues to be an extremely popular program for Illinois homeowners because it gives them the opportunity to dispose of common household products that are potentially hazardous to human health and the environment.”
In addition, the Governor reminds consumers that they can dispose of used lead acid batteries, used in cars and trucks, at the locations where they are purchased.  The law requires dealers who sell them to accept old batteries and recycle them.   
The state has also established a program for the disposal of electronic waste.  A report from The National Safety Council predicted there will be more than 300 million obsolete computers in the U.S. – one for every American man, woman and child – and yet less than 10 percent of this equipment will be recycled.  Old electronic equipment can contain highly toxic chemicals, such as mercury, lead, cadmium and beryllium, which can be released into the environment if improperly disposed.  When electronics are dumped into a landfill or burned, those toxins become a part of our environment and can be breathed or consumed by humans.  Recycling is not only good for the environment but good for the economy as well - recycling creates up to 10 times as many jobs as land-filling.  Over the past five years, the Illinois Department of Commerce and Economic Opportunity (DCEO) has been greatly involved with working to foster a more mature electronics recycling infrastructure in Illinois.  Under the Blagojevich administration DCEO has awarded 40 “e-scrap” grants totaling approximately $3,000,000 to support electronic refurbishing and recycling projects throughout the state.
To find out how to properly dispose of old electronic equipment and to locate electronics reuse/recycling facility near you, visit the Department of Commerce and Economic Opportunity’s website at www.illinoisrecycles.com, or call 217/785-3416.


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