E-Cycling (electronic recycling) is taking off as consumers look to get rid of outdated devices
With the rapid development of new technology, we are often left with outdated electronics that no longer work. These items cannot be sold or repurposed, and are often harmful to the environment if not disposed of properly. This is where electronic recycling comes in.
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 results in a $500 fine for businesses, a $25 fine for the first offense of a residential consumer, and a $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.”
Electronics Banned from Illinois Landfills
All of the following items must be recycled or properly disposed of. They’re all banned from landfills in Illinois:
- Televisions (TVs)
- Videocassette 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)
- Electronic keyboards
- Electronic mice
- Digital converter boxes
- Fax machines
- Satellite receivers
- 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 hefty fines, here are some options for recycling electronics in Chicago and Illinois:
#1) Take them to 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 (7 am – noon), Thursdays (2 pm – 7 pm), and every first Saturday of the month (8 am – 3 pm).
#2) 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. They accept 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. See a list of electronic recycling drop-off locations.
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.
#3) Recycle at a 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.
#4) 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—including JUNK Relief—offer environmentally friendly options for collecting and recycling electronics of all sizes.
Top image credit – Blake Patterson, Flickr