Electronics Recycling Options Dwindling

One of the largest electronics recycling programs in Greater Chicago is expected to shut down, leaving consumers with a dwindling list of approved locations that accept old televisions and computer equipment.

The Solid Waste Agency of Lake County (SWALCO) said it is discontinuing its program due to a lack of funds. The SWALCO Board of Directors held an emergency meeting on March 3 to discuss options and decided to close its five remaining collection sites effective May 1, 2016.

“The agency was faced with an unanticipated mandate to pay for collecting electronics,” said SWALCO Chairman Larry Mount. “Regrettably, we cannot afford to pay more when we are already providing nearly $150,000 per year in manpower and equipment at the five collection sites.”

It is against Illinois law to send e-waste to a landfill. Instead, the law requires manufacturers to collect and recycle a certain amount of e-waste annually.

According to the Illinois Environmental Protection Agency, some local governments chose to collect e-waste as a service to their residents. Their intent was to have the cost of those collections covered by the manufacturers who needed to meet collection and recycling goals.

However, commodity prices are down. SWALCO said it has been subsidizing its electronics recycling program with local tax dollars.

Recycling options for consumers are diminishing, especially after some retailers have stopped collecting electronics.

Still, the Illinois EPA maintains an online list of all current registered collection locations throughout the state. A list of residential e-waste collection sites is available at the following link.

The Illinois EPA encourages residents to call the provided numbers in advance to determine if a particular item or device is accepted.

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