Beginning Jan. 1, there are new rules in effect for landfills.

Landfills will not be able to accept electronics. Lehighton Borough Manager Nicole Beckett said this includes TVs, computers, VCRs, cell phones, and printers.

Residents not only in Lehighton but virtually all municipalities will no longer be able to place such items with their regular garbage pickup.

In Carbon County, there is a semi-annual collection of electronics for recycling - at least for now. Financial restraints could potentially change this.

While recylcing is obviously the proper and preferred method for disposal of such items, we're sure many individuals will refuse to hang onto their electronic trash for months.

Instead - and we know how people react by observation - TVs, printers, etc. will be tossed along hiking trails, in wooded areas, along roads, and next to cemeteries.

And let's face it, individuals living with families in apartments and small homes don't have the space to keep their old, non-working TVs for months.

Officials at the Pa. Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) who make the rules have no idea how the average person lives. In Harrisburg and other cities, better resources are available for getting rid of these worn-out electronic devices than what exists in small towns that are prevalent in our area.

Even when the electronic recycling days occur, they happen during the day when many people work. They generally happen in one community, meaning people have to travel a distance to comply.

The biggest problem, though, is having individuals hang onto their garbage for months. It's impractical for a large family with tight living quarters to do this.

If you place such electronics at curbside with your garbage, it will remain there because trash collectors are being told not to pick it up.

This isn't to imply that recyling should not occur.

If the DEP imposes difficult mandates, the state should provide funding to counties and municipalities to handle the situations. The state has been cutting back on its recycling grants and county aid, yet imposing more and more mandates. Carbon County is the perfect example where the general recycling program has been curtailed.

Instead of helping the environment, DEP is going to make it worse.

Is it better to find these electronic devices tossed along creek beds, in wooded areas, and at other popular dumping spots than having hem disposed at landfills?

We're sure with voluntary recycling most people would oblige and wait for the recycling dates. In all practicality, some people can't keep their garbage items laying in their homes that long.

How much more stringent is DEP going to get with recycling? The truth is that many recyclables aren't being recycled by garbage collectors because of recylcing can actually be a financial loss. It's great for these non-elected policy makers at DEP to dictate the way we live without coming up with solutions - and the finances - for municipalities to make them work.

Of course, their bosses, our elected officials, gingerly step aside to their edicts.

Asking people to hold onto their old electronic items for months is asking an awful lot. Making them drive miles in many cases to an electronic recycling program twice a year is also very demanding, especially if they're working people.

By RON GOWER

rgower@tnonline.com