Counties adapt to struggling Illinois e-waste program
- Multiple Illinois counties have shut down electronics recycling programs due to decreased commodity prices and the state is reevaluating its current system.
- One solution proposed by the Illinois Manufacturers Association would require consumers to buy a $5-$10 sticker in order to drop old electronics off at an approved location.
- One sign of a turnaround is happening in Will County — which saw 13 drop-off centers close after its vendor terminated their contract — as programs are established.
The state banned electronics from landfills in 2012 and manufacturers who sell products in the state are required to recycle a minimum weight of e-waste, but programs have struggled in recent years. The system hit a snag when many of them stopped taking more material after meeting their requirements. The governor signed a law last year raising the tonnage requirements that companies must recycle, though low commodity prices have still made this a challenge.
TVs have proven to be particularly challenging because residents are returning more than what manufacturers will pay to recycle. Kane County shut down its e-waste recycling program after being overwhelmed by more than 140,000 tons of material at a recent drop-off day. Officials estimated that 80% of the items received were TVs.
Many states still don't have programs for electronic recycling and some have called for a federal solution. A recent report from the National Center for Electronics Recycling also pointed out the need for new collection systems that can handle evolving technology and transport it shorter distances for processing. The report estimates that consumers bought more than 1 billion devices in 2015 and currently have 3.8 billion devices in their households.
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