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Chicago area

CHICAGO, April 10 /PRNewswire-USNewswire

CHICAGO, April 10 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ — Almost everyone has a garage, basement, closet, drawer or medicine cabinet just waiting for an overhaul and U.S. Environmental Protection Agency is promoting Earth Month as the perfect time to go green and spring clean.

So far, more than 70 organizations, communities and businesses across the Great Lakes basin have stepped up and responded to EPA’s Great Lakes Earth Day Challenge to collect and properly dispose of old electronics or “e-waste” and unused, expired or unwanted medicine. EPA’s goal is to collect at least 1 million pounds of electronic waste and 1 million pills to keep contaminants out of the Great Lakes.

“EPA is counting on thousands of people in the Great Lakes basin to do their part and find a nearby collection event where they can safely get rid of their old electronics and unused medicine,” said EPA Great Lakes National Program Manager and Region 5 Administrator Mary A. Gade. “It’s a win-win situation for the public and for the Great Lakes ecosystem. This is an easy way for everyone to take part in protecting the Great Lakes.”

The Great Lakes are an irreplaceable treasure. They are the largest source of fresh drinking water on earth and vital to commerce and recreation in the upper Midwest. Responsible recycling and disposal of unwanted electronics and medicine will prevent contaminants from polluting the Great Lakes basin.

To find a collection event, go to the Great Lakes Earth Day Challenge Web site

Also, anyone can go to EPA’s blog and share ideas:

U.S. Environmental Protection Agency

Chicago area Press Release

Don’t Flush! Drive Unwanted Medicines from Your Home

This April 26 the Alliance will help Chicago-area residents dispose of unused medicines and keep them out of the Great Lakes , where pharmaceuticals are known to harm wildlife and may also be harming people who tap the Lakes for drinking water.

Those living elsewhere around the Great Lakes are encouraged to participate in similar collection events scheduled around the region during Earth Week, April 19-27 — all part of the U.S. EPA’s ” Great Lakes 2008 Earth Day Challenge.”

“Flushing unwanted medicines down toilets leads to potential contamination of the Great Lakes and drinking water supplies,” said Lyman Welch, Water Quality Program manager for the Alliance . “Disposing of unused and expired medicines through collection programs is a responsible step everyone can take now to prevent water pollution at the source.”

EPA’s regional challenge is to collect 1 million pills of unwanted medicines and 1 million pounds of unwanted electronics, or e-waste, for responsible disposal. Across the Great Lakes region, communities are stepping up, signing on to the challenge and adding their collection and take-back events to the efforts of thousands.

The Alliance is co-hosting prescription drug collection from 8 a.m. to 3 p.m. on April 26 at the Chicago Household Hazardous Waste facility on Goose Island , 1150 N. North Branch St . Jointly sponsored with the Illinois EPA, U.S. EPA and City of Chicago, the public is invited to bring unused or expired prescription and non-prescription drugs, inhalers and mercury thermometers for free and proper disposal.

Researchers at the University of Wisconsin , the U.S. Geological Survey and the EPA are increasingly troubled by studies showing organisms exhibiting altered gender ratios, sluggish behavior, and even increased reproduction rates as a result of exposure to pharmaceuticals and other pollutants that disrupt the body’s hormonal system. Scientists say such findings may indicate that people, especially children and other sensitive populations, could also be affected.

The pathway is clear. Many, unaware of the consequences, continue to follow old directives to flush unwanted medicines down the toilet, leading to the potential contamination of surface and ground waters. Furthermore, whenever someone ingests a pill, some of the drug is absorbed by the body but the rest passes through and is flushed down the toilet.

The wastewater is treated before it is discharged to reservoirs, rivers or lakes, and again at drinking water treatment plants before it is piped to consumers. But conventional sewage treatment methods were not designed to remove this type of contamination.

For now, regulators say the most practical and rapid way to protect public health from the threat of pharmaceutical pollution is to eliminate it at the source wherever possible.

“This collection is beneficial not only to residents who want get rid of the unused antibiotics or other drugs lining their medicine cabinets — but also to the environment,” said Doug Scott, director of the Illinois EPA.

The collection site is unable to accept controlled substances because of strict federal laws, said the Alliance ‘s Welch, adding “Federal controlled substance laws must be revised to make it easier for consumers to return unused or expired drugs for proper disposal.”

For more information about collections and locations, see EPA’s ” Great Lakes 2008 Earth Day Challenge” at:

Greater Cleveland area - Cuyahoga County

Greater Cleveland area – Cuyahoga County Press Release

Thousands of residents in Greater Cleveland, Ohio are recycling unwanted computer electronics during the annual “Recycle Your Computer Month.”

In the past 8 years, the Cuyahoga County Solid Waste District has sponsored many collections that garnered over 1,900 tons of computer equipment.

“This is the 9th year that we have provided free computer recycling to Cuyahoga County residents,” said Cristie A. Snyder, District Program Officer.

“In 2000, we started collecting computers with a one-day Round-Up twice a year,” said Snyder, adding a couple years ago the opening of a local recycling facility allowed the District to switch “to a month-long promotion that allowed our municipalities to run their events as needed.”

The e-Waste computer collections are sponsored by the District in collaboration with local city service departments.

Residents in 59 municipalities can drop-off their old and broken unused computer equipment at over 45 participating city service departments during the month of April, Snyder said.

All equipment collected will be taken to RET3 job corp, a non-profit computer recycling and refurbishing company based in Cleveland. Computer donations are tax-deductible.


Duluth Press Release

In Duluth, Minnesota, “Medicine Cabinet Clean-Out Day” offers residents free, safe disposal of unwanted medications.

The drive-thru event is from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. on April 26 at the Western Lake Superior Sanitary District (WLSSD) HHW Facility (2626 Courtland St.) in Duluth.

“Residents should bring medications in their original containers,” said Gina Temple-Rhodes, WLSSD environmental program coordinator. “Mercury thermometers and medical sharps that are packaged safely in rigid containers will also be accepted free of charge.”

In two previous collections including “Minnesota’s first-ever medication collection” in October 2007, the WLSSD “collected a total of 591 pounds of unwanted pharmaceuticals from 391 households, enough to fill 6 55-gallon drums,” Temple-Rhodes said.

“Medication is only accepted at the (WLSSD) during special events due to U.S. drug laws,” said Susie Darley-Hill, WLSSD event coordinator. “If medication must be disposed of during other times, it can be destroyed, sealed and placed in the garbage.”

“The first collection event really showed us that there is a lot of unwanted medication lingering in medicine cabinets all over the WLSSD area,” said Temple-Rhodes. “Residents told us they had been storing the medications for years because they didn’t know what else to do with them. This collection event offers an easy, safe answer to the disposal question.”

“Unwanted medication should not be flushed or poured down the drain,” said WLSSD Executive Director Kurt N.W. Soderberg. “Although many of us were taught to dispose of medicines this way, we now know that flushing them is not a good idea.”

“Wastewater treatment plants were not designed to remove pharmaceutical substances from wastewater,” Soderberg continued. “Proper disposal of medication helps protect water quality in our region.”

The Duluth event is one of 37 projects involving hundreds of communities across eight states around the Great Lakes basin that are participating in an Earth Day 2008 challenge from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency.

The goal of the EPA Great Lakes 2008 Earth Day is collecting and recycling one million pounds of electronics (e-Waste) and the collection of one million pills for proper disposal.


Keshena Press Release

Youth and adults at the Menominee Indian Tribe of Wisconsin plan three events as part of the EPA Great Lakes 2008 Earth Day Challenge

(Keshena, Wisconsin) – As the students of all ages plan a major hands-on clean up of a tribal community and the recycling of electronics and proper disposal of unwanted medications to honor Earth Day 2008, adult members of the Menominee Indian Tribe of Wisconsin in Keshena, WI have already turned in several thousand pounds of electronic waste as part of a national Earth Day Project.

The Menominee Indian Tribe of Wisconsin (MITW), located about 30 miles south of Green Bay, is collecting e-Waste all month including during the tribe’s regular curbside bulk items Spring Cleaning collection on April 21-24 (Monday thru Thursday).

“We are getting lots of electronics right now,” said Diana Wolf, the MITW Solid Waste/Recycling Coordinator.

Meanwhile – tribal grade and middle schoolers are planning an outdoor cleanup project for the last Friday in April, and the students at the tribal college have scheduled an April 22 collection of e-Waste and unwanted pharmaceuticals.

The three projects are part of about 37 events planned across 8 states in hundreds of cities as part of the Great Lakes 2008 Earth Day Challenge sponsored by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. The events are being promoted by the interfaith Earth Healing Initiative that teams numerous faith communities and American Indian tribes with local challenge organizers to be volunteers and participants in the projects spread across the Great Lakes basin.

During the first week of April, the tribe’s drop-off sites collected several thousand pounds of electronics including 919 pounds of “low-grade circuit boards” that tribal employees remove from TV sets, stereos, high quality computers, cassette players and other electronics.

Wolf estimated that about two tons (4,000 pounds) of electronics will be turned in by the end of the month.

Wolf said that the 919 pounds of e-recyclables (circuit boards) represents about 100 individual TVs, computers or other electronics. The circuit boards and some other the electronics are turned over to Mike Zastrow, a buyer for Samuels Recycling in Green Bay. Plastics and wood from electronics collected by the tribe are recycled by Waste Management Inc. in Antigo, WI

“The electronics contain silver and gold and we give it Samuel’s Recycling in Green Bay – they pay us 12 cents per pound,” Wolf said. “We are assured it is recycled correctly.”

The tribe pays Lamp Recyclers Inc. of DePere, WI to remove hazardous materials like fluorescent light bulbs, batteries and some parts of TVs and computer components.

“We will do whatever it takes to do cradle to grave recycling,” Wolf said, adding the tribe follows EPA guidelines for electronics and other recyclables.


Milwaukee: 2008 Earth Day Challenge