Porter Co Certifies First Master Recycler

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Solid Waste Board

Porter County, Ind. –James Biancotti became the first certified Master Recycler in Porter County.  Recycling and Waste Reduction District of Porter County Executive Director Therese Davis presented Biancotti with his certification at the organization’s quarterly board meeting Tuesday.

[Photo: James Biancotti receives the first Master Recycler Certification in Porter County at the Solid Waste Board Meeting last week. Pictured with board members, from left: James Murphy, Kouts Town Council; Karen Conover, County Council; Nancy Adams, County Commissioner; Sue Lynch, Portage City Council; James Biancotti, Certified Master Recycler; Therese Davis, District Executive Director; and James Snyder, Mayor of Portage./Photo provided]

The Ogden Dunes resident completed the last few volunteer hours of his required 30 Payback Hours helping out at the district’s household hazardous waste event last weekend. He fulfilled his attendance at the Master Recycler pilot classes last spring.

The Master Recycler program offered by the district provides a comprehensive overview of the organization, waste flow, recycling processes and household hazardous waste in Northwest Indiana; composting, vermicomposting, and electronics recycling.  The classes feature guest speakers and field trips so attendees can learn from industry professionals and witness first-hand what happens to their waste.

“I originally took the class to find out what could be done to increase the amount of recycled material from the town of Ogden Dunes,” Biancotti said.  “I am a member of the town environmental advisory board.  I learned a lot more about recycling than expected; the right and wrong of single stream recycling, how to handle e-waste, why everyone should utilize the household hazardous waste collection days, and the recycling of organic waste.” 

He said the field trips to the materials recovery facility and the Newton County land fill were eye openers on what is going on in the real world. 

“My work background included recycling for a major industry,” said Biancotti. The U.S. Steel retiree spent 15 years in several environmental manager positions.

“My experience has resulted in a continued interest in recycling,” he said. “I'm interested in looking into changes and hopefully improvements in recycling since I have left the environmental field and see how these can be applied to the town of Ogden Dunes.”

Some ways Biancotti spent his volunteer hours included helping his town with its collection and cleanup event and assisting with waste reduction at the town’s Memorial Day special event. He also assisted at district collection events where he helped to educate individuals; and staffed the district table during the Northwest Indiana Earth Day Celebration.

He promises that his volunteer time will not end at 30 hours.  Biancotti is currently developing an outlet for film plastic generated at the Portage Township Food Pantry. He hopes creating a program will help divert two to four 45 gallon plastic bags filled with film on a weekly basis.

“Now I cannot stand to see a large volume of a recyclable material routinely tossed in the trash,” Biancotti said. “I guess the class improved my outlook on reducing the volume of material I have put in landfills.”

“We are very proud of our first class of Master Recycler interns,” said Donna Stuckert, public education coordinator. “They took the initiative to want to learn more through the classes, and now each one is helping the environment in Porter County by identifying ways they can educate and make a difference.”

Stuckert added that education will be key in meeting the state’s new recycling goals.

The course offered in Porter County is the first Master Recycler program offered anywhere in the state of Indiana, which means Biancotti is the very first certified Master Recycler not only in the county, but anywhere in the state.

Master Recycler programs are popular in areas of the Pacific Northwest, but a few are also located in Minnesota, Virginia, Ohio, Arizona and Canada.

Biancotti was one of 17 individuals in Porter County who took the initiative to register for the course and commit to volunteering time to help educate and reduce waste in Porter County.

The next course is scheduled to begin Sept. 11 and will be held from 6-8 p.m. on Thursdays for eight weeks. Online registration is available on

Master Recyclers are available to assist with education or waste reduction programs. For more information, call 219-465-3819.

2014 Illiana Garden Pond Society Garden and Pond Tour

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Northeast Illinois/Northwest Indiana --Experience the beauty that water features add to many private landscapes throughout Northwest Indiana and Northeast Illinois on Saturday and Sunday, Aug. 9 and 10, during the 2014 Illiana Garden Pond Society Garden and Pond Tour.

Spend the weekend touring yards with ponds and waterfalls and gather landscaping ideas or simply absorb the scenery that many residents enjoy every day. Nine homes, from Crete and Frankfort, to Crown Point, Hobart and Lowell are spotlighted on the tour.

The admission price of $5 per adult covers both days and all touring times: 10 a.m.-5 p.m. both days, and 8-10 p.m. Saturday to see lighted landscapes. Children under 15 years old are free.

Proceeds from the tour help the group sponsor water feature projects throughout the community and scholarships for Lake County Master Gardeners.

Advance tickets can be purchased at these locations: Alsip Nursery, 10255 Wicker (US 41), St. John, Ind.; Artful garden, 611 N. Indiana Ave., Crown Point, Ind.; Water's Edge, 18418 Wentworth Ave., Lansing, Ill.;  South County landscaping, 9919 Colorado St., Crown Point, Ind.;  and U.S. AquaVac, 16067 Colorado St., Hebron, Ind.

For more information, visit, or send an e-mail to This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it .

Last Porter Co Household Hazmat Collection of 2014

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Portage, Indiana – The Recycling and Waste Reduction District of Porter County will help Porter County residents safely dispose of their old pesticides, gasoline, CFLs and other products that contain corrosive, toxic, ignitable or reactive ingredients at the last household hazardous waste collection event of the year. The collection is scheduled from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. Saturday, Aug. 9, at Portage High School, 6450 U.S. 6.

HHW items accepted at this collection event include aerosol cans; anti-freeze; oil; batteries (household and automotive); corrosives; medications; mercury containing products (fluorescent tubes, CFLs, thermometers, thermostats, etc.); oil-based and latex paint, thinners and solvents; pesticides and other poisons; diesel fuel, kerosene, other flammable liquids; and ammunition.

Explosives, asbestos, grill propane cylinders, containers larger than 30 gallons, commercial hazardous waste, controlled substances and radioactive materials, such as smoke detectors, will not be accepted at this event.

Staff from the Northwestern Indiana Regional Planning Commission will be on hand to present a very limited supply of 2.5 gallon CARB gas cans to residents who turn in their old ones. Cans are available on a first-come, first-served basis; limit one new gas can per car/family.

Improper disposal of household hazardous wastes can include pouring them down the drain, on the ground, into storm sewers, or in some cases putting them out with the trash, which can pollute the environment and pose a threat to human health.

For more information on household hazardous waste collection events in Porter County, call the Recycling and Waste Reduction District of Porter County, 465-3694, or visit

Unused medications are also accepted any time at the following police departments: Valparaiso, 355 S. Washington St.; Chesterton, 790 Broadway; Portage, 2693 Irving St.; Hebron, 106 East Sigler St. (only available Mondays through Fridays, from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m.) -- no liquids or metal nasal spray bottles; and Porter, 50 Francis St. -- no liquids or liquid capsules.

Household batteries can be recycled anytime at a number of places throughout Porter County. Visit the district website for a listing.

Fluorescent tube lights and CFLs can be recycled at either Porter County public compost site: Valparaiso, 2150 W. Lincolnway, Mondays through Fridays, 9 a.m.-5 p.m.; Saturdays, 9 a.m.-4 p.m.; or Boone Grove, 546 S. 400 W., Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays, noon-5 p.m.; Saturdays, 9 a.m. - 4 p.m.

The City of Hobart accepts latex paint donations from Porter County residents at its Department of Public Works site, 340 S. Shelby St., Mondays through Fridays, between 7 a.m. and 2:45 p.m.; and Saturdays, between 8 and 11:45 a.m.

The Recycling and Waste Reduction District of Porter County is a government agency dedicated to improving the environment and quality of life for Porter County residents by providing convenient, voluntary waste reduction programs.

Master Gardener Hotline

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February thru October 2012

Read more: Master Gardener Hotline


Lake Co Master Gardeners Website

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Photos, upcoming events and more at new online site

Read more: Lake Co Master Gardeners Website


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