Illlinois' Electronics Recycling Struggles Affect Kane County

Illlinois’ Electronics Recycling Struggles Affect Kane County

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ABOVE: St. Charles Electronics Recycling Drop-Off Circa 2014

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ABOVE: St. Charles Electronics Recycling Drop-Off Today

  • Editor’s Note: This article was written by Kane County Recycling Coordinator Jennifer Jarland. You can reach her at 630-208-3841 or
  • (SIDE NOTE TO LOCAL MEDIA: Please feel free to recycle this article.)

The Kane County electronics recycling program has down-sized over the last year, while many surrounding counties closed down their electronics recycling programs or started paying to continue their programs. The electronics-recycling issue is serious and statewide, stemming from low collection goals set in the Electronic Products Reuse and Recycling Act.

Right now, Kane County is still offering electronics recycling, but be forewarned: More changes are coming.

First the bad news, then the good.

Kane County Electronics Recycling Drop-offs Are Closing

The two last remaining Kane County electronics drop-offs at the public works departments in St. Charles and West Dundee will be closing at 3 p.m. Friday, April 8, 2016. Until that date, the drop-off will remain open to receive electronics, including TVs, from 8 a.m. to 3 p.m. Monday through Friday.

Please do not dump equipment during closed hours! These drop-offs are open to Kane County residents ONLY.

There are three main reasons the governing bodies in St. Charles and West Dundee have decided to discontinue the programs at this time.

First, the overwhelming volume of electronics — consisting mostly of large-tube televisions — has inundated the public works yard at the St. Charles drop-off. Staff members have struggled to manage the additional hours of physical labor associated with shifting and stacking the equipment as well as fork-lifting full pallets onto the trucks.

Mike Burnett, environmental services manager at St. Charles Public Works, says that the electronics recycling program has taken crews away from the regular work of maintaining water mains, sewers, parkway trees, sidewalks and streets. This extra time ultimately bears a cost, as does the liability risk associated with moving large TVs and heavily loaded pallets.

While the volume has been more manageable at the West Dundee Public Works site, the Village Board decided to discontinue its electronics drop-off program in the wake of St. Charles’ announcement that it would close on April 8, 2016. At that point, West Dundee would have been the only remaining permanent collection point for all of Kane County, and village officials were concerned that the volume increase would be far more than staff could manage.

Second, municipalities have no financial incentive to operate a labor-intensive program that serves the whole county. Back in 2012, when the Electronic Products Recycling and Reuse Act banned electronics from landfills and required manufacturers of electronics to fund recycling programs in Illinois, there was money flowing from manufacturers to recycler/processors, and even down to the collectors.

At that time, the county was able to pass along a per-pound revenue to the cities that were acting as collection locations. That heyday lasted a couple of years, until 2014, when the volumes being collected began to exceed the weight goals the state has set for the manufacturers. Once annual weight-goal requirements are met, manufacturers don’t have to fund the recycling programs, and without the additional revenues, costs are threatening to fall back to local governments.

Another factor contributing to the difficulties is that some people have chosen to drop off general garbage, such as beds, scrap wood and even hazardous wastes like paint and chemicals. All of this presents an additional cost burden for the municipality because the city then has to dispose of the items correctly and responsibly.

Many people have also dumped their equipment outside of the gates during weekends, holidays and when the drop-offs were closed, despite signs that prohibit dumping. This regularly occurring problem has caused extensive additional labor and cost.

The Good News: Kane County Recycling Events to Continue

Kane County’s electronics recycling collection events will continue, until further notice, to offer an option for Kane County residents to recycle their electronics responsibly. The service remains free, but please check the Kane County Recycles website regularly to check on that status.

The next two event dates are scheduled for the second Saturdays of April and May, at 540 S. Randall Road in St. Charles:

  • 8 a.m. to noon Saturday, April 9
  • 8 a.m. to noon Saturday, May 14

If you can wait until the May event, please do so. The April 9 event is expected to see very high volumes of cars, and long lines. The April 9 event will offer more than just electronics recycling. Kane County Recyclies will also be offering book recycling, document shredding and liquid latex paint recycling (a per-can fee applies).

For more information, please see the Kane County Electronics Recycling Event webpage.

About Kane County Recycles

The 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.