So, What's Next for Kane County Electronics Recycling?

So, What’s Next for Kane County Electronics Recycling?

Kane County Recycling Coordinator Jennifer Jarland says Kane County hopes to bring back an electronics recycling renaissance for its residents, but the next iteration will include multiple drop-off locations and a fee for TVs and computer monitors.

Last week, the county announced that it would suspend its electronics recycling due to the avalanche of old TVs tossed in Kane County’s direction during the May 14 recycling event. The saga of electronics recycling in Illinois and throughout the country is long and complicated, but the bottom line is that the escalating costs forced many local-government electronics recycling sites and electronic recycling processors to close down, and Kane County was left as the only place in the area where its residents could drop off those big, old TVs without a charge.

“We had previously thought we would be able to offer free recycling for several more months, but that is no longer the case,” Jarland said.

Giant-Size Logistics Challenges

The tsunami of TVs brought a flood of traffic flow and logistics challenges, after hundreds of vehicles plugged the roads around the Kane County recycling events held at the branch court at 540 S. Randall in St. Charles.

During April and May, county officials searched for alternative locations, including the Kane County Fairgrounds and the Kane County Judicial Center, but Jarland said those spots would not have kept the mile-long lines from spilling onto area roads or provide the wide, solid-surfaced work area needed for the event.

“We have yet to find a site that will offer us a large enough improvement over what we have at the current location at 540 S. Randall Road in St. Charles.” Jarland said. “Moreover, moving to a new location will not address the fact that there are simply too many attendees to serve in a day. Up to 50 staff and volunteers have worked from 6 a.m. to 3 p.m. or later to set up and run the event to take in between six and eight 53-foot trailers worth of electronics — about 140,000 to 170,000 pounds in total.”

At the April and May event, the line had to be cut off earlier than expected because material received had hit capacity.

“While the event staff and volunteers have a well-oiled system in place and unload about four or five cars per minute, it is impossible to serve thousands of cars in one day because of the large volume of material in each car — mostly all those big old TVs.” Jarland said.

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So, What’s Next?

Jarland’s goal is to reinstate the electronics recycling collection event once additional alternate options for residents are available. At that time, the county will charge a fee for recycling TVs and monitors during its recycling events, and residents will have the option of paying that same fee to drop off TVs and monitors at yet-to-be named locations.

The Kane County Board passed a resolution on May 10, 2016, that will allow eWorks, the county’s electronics-recycling contractor, to charge $25 to recycling TVs 20 inches or less and charge $35 to recycle TVs 21 inches and over.

There are other places to drop off TVs for recycling currently, where you will pay from $20 to $75, depending on size of TV.

The fee will be paid directly to the eWorks Recycling Services, a non-profit that employs people with developmental disabilities. The fee will simply cover the costs of collecting, transporting, disassembling and shipping the materials to the end recycling markets. The fee is not paid to the county. Participants will receive a donation receipt that can be used for a tax write off.

Why the Fees?

It is becoming more common for consumers to be charged a fee for TV and monitor recycling in many locations throughout Illinois. Other electronics, including computer hard drives, keyboards, mice, laptops, printers, scanners, fax machines, DVD players, phones, game and music devices, and receivers remain free to recycle.

“It is a known fact that the electronics recycling law in Illinois is seriously flawed,” Jarland said.

State law bans 17 electronic items, including TVs, from being deposited into landfills. The intent of the law was to make manufacturers responsible for recycling their products at end of life, but the weight-based goal was set far lower than the total weight of those big, old TV sets being dropped off at recycling centers. Additionally, TVs and monitors have little material value and represent a high cost to process, so there are very few incentives for recycling.

“Recyclers need to recoup the costs from somewhere, and if not the manufacturer, then a user fee is the fairest way,” Jarland said.

June 11 Recycling Extravaganza Still a ‘Go’

Kane County’s next recycling event is its annual “Recycling Extravaganza” from 8 a.m. to noon Saturday, June 11, at the branch court office at 540 S. Randall in St. Charles.

“The June extravaganza is still on — but NO ELECTRONICS accepted!” Jarland said.

The extravaganza includes document shredding, and there are still, literally, tons of items that you can recycle, including bicycles, books, 4-foot florescent tubes, mobility devices such as walkers and wheelchairs, and packing material including Styrofoam, packing peanuts and bubble wrap, and liquid latex paint. There is a fee for recycling latex paint.

You can check out the event map and click this link to read more about what you can and can’t recycle at the event.

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About Kane County Recycles

Recycles Recycling Logo SMThe Kane County Recycles office manages recycling programs for electronics, books, hazardous materials, and other hard-to-recycle materials, and promotes best practices for household recycling, commercial business recycling, and composting. This office oversees recycling-related information and community outreach initiatives, oversees the annual licensing of Waste and Recycling Haulers, provides backyard compost bins, and implements the Kane County Solid Waste Plan. The office oversees the Recycling and Hauler Licensing Ordinance which requires commercial businesses and multi-family residences to recycle, and provides the provisions for hauler licensing and reporting.

For all you ever needed to know about recycling in Kane County see the Kane County Recycles webpage and also sign up here to receive an electronic copy of the new Green Guide each spring.