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Sullivan: Resolve to go green in 2013

Did you know that McHenry County was the first county to mandate residential recycling in Illinois? We realized the benefits, importance and the future of recycling and took action.

Do you often find yourself wondering where to take an appliance or computer or what can and cannot be recycled? Do you find yourself needing phone numbers and websites to companies that can help but don’t know where to look?

On April 19, your questions will be answered. The official McHenry County Green Guide 2013 will be an insert in the Northwest Herald. This 40-page publication is made possible by a partnership of the Lou Marchi Total Recycling Institute at McHenry County College and the Northwest Herald and the individuals, organizations and businesses who purchase ads and support the Green Guide.

The Green Guide will be available in print, online at www.mchenry.edu/recycling and as part of the Earth911 free app iRecycle. Many governmental agencies, businesses and organizations include a link to the McHenry County Green Guide on their websites. This is a very helpful way to spread the word about recycling, reusing and promoting the green economy.

Beginning Jan. 1, 2012, it became illegal for individuals to dispose of unwanted electronics in their regular trash. Discarded electronics, including computers, monitors, electronic keyboards, scanners, fax machines and many other electronic devices must now be taken to a registered recycler for proper management. It became illegal for the consumer to dispose of them in the trash and iillegal for Illinois landfills to accept them.

A 2007 report showed that electronic products were the fastest growing portion of the solid waste stream. That year, three million tons of electronic products became obsolete, yet only 14 percent of those products were recycled. The reuse of these products, including metals, plastics and glass, conserves natural resources and saves energy.

The Illinois EPA website www.epa.state.il.us/land/electronic-waste-recycling/index.htmlexplains requirements for individuals and for manufacturers, a list of registered collectors, as well as a complete listing of all electronic items.

The benefits of establishing a recycling program at your business are also great. Not only is recycling good for the earth, it can also save your business money. Here are the top five benefits:

• Cost savings. By recycling more of your organization’s waste, you can save money on garbage services. Recycling also brings cost benefits.

• Corporate responsibility. Informing your customers that you are doing your part to minimize your impact on the planet by recycling is an excellent way to enhance loyalty and differentiate your company from the competition.

• Employee satisfaction. Boosting employee morale is another benefit of having a recycling program at your workplace. People like to work for environmentally friendly businesses.

• Environmental benefits. Recycling at your company reduces greenhouse gasses in the atmosphere by sending less garbage to the landfill. It also provides valuable raw materials.

• Job creation. The recycling industry creates jobs by employing people at every stage of the process: Collection, processing, manufacturing and reselling.

Some common recycle paper products in the workplace include office copy paper, stationery, notebook paper, envelopes, magazines, file folders, and paper based packaging.

According to Pat Dieckhoff, sustainability specialist at McHenry County College, “Recycling electronics is a great opportunity to keep potentially toxic contaminants out of the landfill and to help the economy by supporting local green businesses. The Green Guide Recycling Directory includes options for recycling and reusing electronics, as well as, compact fluorescent bulbs, paint, hazardous chemicals and much more. It also includes a Green Living Section that highlights local green products, services and resources.”

The Wonder Lake Chamber of Commerce wishes everyone a healthy, prosperous and happy new year and encourages us all to go green in 2013.

• Donna M. Sullivan is executive director of the Wonder Lake Chamber of Commerce.

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