- The Solid Waste Agency of Lake County (SWALCO) in the Greater Chicago-area is shutting down its electronics recycling program because it can no longer foot the bill for the five remaining collection sites that it has been subsidizing since being mandated to pay for e-waste collections.
- "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," SWALCO Chairman Larry Mount told NBC Chicago.
- The decision, made last week after an emergency meeting, will be effective May 1. After that date, consumers living in the Greater Chicago area will have limited means to dispose of their old electronics, which cannot be legally dumped in Illinois landfills.
E-waste is one of the fastest growing waste types in the U.S., and globally the market is projected to grow to $5.04 billion by 2020. This is putting pressure on municipalities across the country, who are strapped to pick up and properly dispose of these fast-accumulating, spent products. While manufacturers are required to collect and recycle a certain amount of their devices and electronics, there aren’t enough of them who are doing this in sufficient quantity.
In July 2015, Illinois Governor Bruce Rauner signed an electronics recycling bill requiring manufacturers to pay to recycle more items in order to save the states’ underfunded electronic recycling programs — legislation that was predicted to be only a temporary fix, which is proving to be the case, at least around Chicago.
A few large manufacturers like Apple and Verizon are stepping up to the plate with large-scale recycling programs. And some states are trying to shift more responsibility back on the bulk of manufacturers who are doing the minimum, while their product volume grows and recycling options shrink.