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A Guide To Recycling Electronics In Chicago

A Guide to Recycling Electronics in Chicago

E-Cycling is taking off as people consumers look to get rid of outdated devices.

With the rapid development of new technology, we are often left with outdated electronics that either no longer work or have no purpose. More often than not, these items cannot be sold or repurposed. Additionally, electronics can be harmful to the environment if not disposed of properly.

In 2012, Illinois passed the Electronics Products Recycling and Reuse Act, mandating that all electronics (“e-waste”) must be disposed of in a proper manner. Improper disposal of electronics will result in a $500 fine for businesses, a $25 fine for a first offense of a residential consumer, and $50 fine for every subsequent offense. This act also states that no consumer can be charged a fee when they bring in their e-waste to a collection facility, unless they use a curbside pickup service or home pickup service, for which a collection fee is permitted.

The law was passed because household electronics often are made of materials such as lead, mercury, or polychlorobiphenyls (PCBs) that are harmful to the environment if they end up in landfills or are not recycled properly. This has lead to an electronic recycling frenzy known as “e-cycling.”

E-cycling includes the following items, all of which are banned from landfills in Illinois:

  • Televisions (TVs)
  • Video cassette recorders (VCRs)
  • DVD Players
  • Audio systems (stereos)
  • Portable Digital Music Players
  • Telephones and cellphones
  • Portable Digital Assistants (PDAs)
  • Cable Receivers
  • Computers (desktop, laptop, netbook, notebook, tablet)
  • Monitors
  • Electronic Keyboards
  • Electronic Mice
  • Digital Converter Boxes
  • Fax Machines
  • Printers
  • Satellite Receivers
  • Scanners
  • Small Scale Servers
  • Video Game Consoles

In Chicago, these types of electronics cannot be disposed of in your ‘blue cart’ with other common household recycling objects. To avoid a hefty fine as a business or potential multiple fines as a residential consumer, we’ve listed out the following options for recycling your e-waste in Chicago and Illinois:

Visit the Chicago Household Waste and Computer Recycling Facility

If hauling your old electronics equipment is feasible, the city of Chicago has a permanent electronics recycling facility. It is open Tuesdays (7am-noon), Thursdays (2-7pm), and every first Saturday of the month (8am-3pm).

The facility is located just east of the Kennedy Expressway at Division: 1150 N. Branch St. For more information on recycling in Chicago, you can visit the City of Chicago’s Fact Sheet.

Donate Electronics to a Not-For-Profit

There are many companies devoted to using old electronics for educational purpose. Here are two programs in Chicago that are devoted to accepting used and broken electronics for educational purposes


VetTech US is a company devoted to educating veterans in IT practices. All donated electronics will be used in furthering their educational process with hands on experiences. Electronics are accepted in working or non-working condition. Click here for a list of Illinois drop off locations. They accepts the following items: computers and accessories such as mice, keyboards, monitors, and software; kitchen appliances like toasters, microwaves and grills; radios, stereos, tape decks, etc.; power tools; phones, cell phones, and accessories; CDs and DVDs; all batteries, chargers, and phone adapters; and other small, household electronics like hair dryers and curlers, electric shavers, and all associated chargers.


FreeGeek Chicago is a local collaboration that provides computer training to economically disadvantaged individuals, non-profits, and social change organizations. They use all donated computers and accessories to build working models that are used for job skills training and providing Internet access. They then sell the refurbished desktops for the low cost of $40, but they have the opportunity to earn a $75 FreeGeek gift card to put toward their computer purchase if they complete 24 hours of computer volunteer training. Visit their site and learn more about the items they accept and their volunteer program.

Recycle at Local Electronics Store

Many electronics stores accept old electronics and office supplies when customers are making new purchases. Check with your sales associate to see if they have a trade-in program where your new purchase will be discounted.

Ace Hardware, Home Depot, Staples and Best Buy are all examples of places that accept electronics recycling. As per Illinois law, all residential e-waste collection is free. For a complete list of residential electronic recycling acceptance facilities, visit the EPA Illinois website.

Hire a Junk Removal Company

If you don’t have the time or transportation abilities to get rid of unwanted electronics, most junk removal companies offer environmentally friendly options for recycling electronics of all sizes. Contact your local junk removal company to inquire about their electronics recycling practices.

Top image credit – Blake Patterson, Flickr

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