Hope for Illinois’ Jeopardized Electronics Recycling Programs

by Tiffany Mucci for SUST 240

Last week brought a glimmer of hope for Illinois’ electronic waste recycling program. Lauren Leone-Cross reported in the Joliet Herald-News on Tuesday, February 10th, of the filing of House Bill 1455, which has local governments crossing their fingers that electronics manufacturers’ state-mandated goals will be significantly increased to help fund the program. This recycling program, an outcome of the 2012 Electronic Products Recycling and Reuse Act, was proving to be highly effective until last year, when manufacturers met annual goals earlier than expected. The emergence of this predicament is explained in further detail in this SUST blog post from November 15th, 2014, “Will County E-Waste Recycling Program’s Future Uncertain”.

Dean Olson, head of Will County’s Resource Recovery and Energy Division, told Leone-Cross that “he and other local governments initially wanted the weight goal raised to 100 percent, but representatives from the Illinois Manufacturers Association were opposed, so compromise bills have been drafted.” Currently, manufacturers are required to pay into the recycling program until they meet 50 percent, by weight, of electronics sold in Illinois two years ago.

The hitch is that new electronics have become ever lighter year by year, making it easier for manufacturers to meet their quotas, and for this reason recycling programs across the state are in trouble. The proposed compromise would bring state-mandated goals up to 80 percent.

For now, municipalities are doing what they can to keep recycling events from disappearing altogether. In a related article published by Leone-Cross in the Joliet Herald-News last month, Olson announced that Will County’s collection events will be decreased from six days to two days for this entire year in an effort to avoid costs, adding that “Lake County, having been in a similar situation, pulled $200,000 from savings to subsidize its own electronics recycling program.”

The Orland Township electronics recycling drop-off site is closed. Last year, a half-million pounds of electronics were recycled.  (Photo: Gary Middendorf, Daily Southtown)

The Orland Township electronics recycling drop-off site is closed. Last year, a half-million pounds of electronics were recycled. (Photo: Gary Middendorf, Daily Southtown)

If this weren’t enough disappointment, just one day before House Bill 1455 was filed, Susan DeMar Lafferty published an article to the Chicago Tribune’s website to report that Orland Township’s once lively electronics recycling center has closed its doors until further notice. Illinois’ recycling program has officially become unaffordable for local governments, and this problem is evidence that manufacturers’ participation is integral to managing our e-waste.

Each week during the Fall 2014 semester, students in Prof. Mike Bryson’s SUST 240 Waste online class at Roosevelt University will contribute blog posts on urban and suburban sustainability issues to the Schaumburg’s Sustainable Future website.

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About Suburban Sustainability

Founder and editor of the Schaumburg's Sustainability Future social media project (est. Earth Day, 2011)
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