Last month, I wrote about a new law going into effect that will ban electronics from landfills. Many of you responded with stories of difficulties in finding places to recycle components in order to comply with the new law. This month’s column will focus on one of those stories, and the resolution to one reader’s specific problem. What follows contains actual excerpts from e-mail conversations between a reader and a representative from the Illinois EPA.
Dean, a reader from Rural Electric Convenience Cooperative writes, “Hello. I had a television go belly up last week. I went to the state website to see where I could take it to recycle. I’m from Farmersville. I used your list to pick a town that is not too far away. I called the 789-0400 in Springfield (Good Will) and they say they do not take them. I called BLH Computers on Stevenson Drive and they take them but said you have to be from Springfield. So I tried the one listed for Hillsboro in Montgomery County at 506 Corporate with a Chicago number of 630-653-2662. The lady that answered said they were at 140 E Fullerton in Carol Stream.”
“I’m getting very frustrated trying to do the right thing and recycle as the new law states. Do you know of any place close to me that you can verify that I can take my TV free of charge or at a small cost? I fear one might start seeing electronic equipment showing up in ditches in the country if the state does not make recycling of this equipment a bit easier. I live in the country and do not want to have to start picking up this equip along my property or seeing it along roadsides.”
Dean has a very valid point. I’m certain that people see the need for recycling these materials. After all, in 2008, we generated 3.16 million tons of e-waste in the U.S. Of this amount, only 430,000 tons or 13.6 percent was recycled, according to the EPA. The rest was trashed – in landfills or incinerators. Those numbers have continued to climb in recent years. People do want to recycle, but if they cannot find a place to take their equipment, then Dean’s fears of finding electronics disposed of by the side of the road may come to fruition.
I was very pleased to see that the Illinos EPA did respond to Dean in a timely manner. The very next day, Michelle Bentley from the Electronic Recycling and Reuse division contacted Dean. Here is her answer:
“I just called the 789-0400 Goodwill number and they are accepting e-waste except for televisions at this time. Collectors can decide which items they choose to accept. I then contacted BLH and they are free for anyone to drop off, unless it is a CRT screen, which TVs and monitors have. They do charge for that, but you get a dollar for dollar coupon. I did not find any listing for a collection site in Hillsboro. I know all Best Buy stores do accept e-waste. I believe they do a dollar for dollar coupon as well. Meaning, if they charge you $10, they give you a certificate for $10 in their store.”
As you can see, Michelle found some of the same difficulties that Dean did. Still, she did take the time to follow up with him, and even offered to speak with him one-on-one. Kudos to the Illinois EPA for hiring Michelle! At any rate, Dean persevered and finally found a way to recycle his product. Here is Dean’s account:
“Good afternoon Ed. I just got back from Best Buy. They recently changed their policy and now take e-waste at no cost whatsoever. You just go to the customer service desk and turn it in. They give you a receipt back with $0.00 for the total. Nice! I hope they keep it that way and don’t get flooded with huge numbers of e-waste that causes them to change their policy to something less easy.”
I hope that printing Dean’s experience will be of help to other readers. If you have questions about where to recycle in your area, or are having difficulty with a particular recycler, e-mail the Illinois EPA at email@example.com . If you have a story you think would be of interest to other readers, please e-mail me.
So where do you take your old electronics for recycling?
The Illinois EPA has compiled a complete list of e-waste collection locations at http://www.epa.gov/epawaste/conserve/materials/ecycling/donate.htm. Just scroll toward the middle of the page until you see the link that says, “collection site locations.” Click that link and an Excel sheet will open with all of the locations.
Ed VanHooseis the Digital Communications Administrator/IT Manager for the Association of Illinois Electric Cooperatives in Springfield. He is a specialist in the IT field with over 12 years of experience working in leadership roles for technology based projects in Illinois and Missouri.