BY JOHN ROSZKOWSKI
December 22, 2011 12:52PM
Updated: December 22, 2011 1:34PM
Homeowners will no longer be able to dispose of their old television sets, computers, printers, DVD players and many other common electronic devices in the garbage under a new state law that takes effect Jan. 1.
The Illinois Electronics Products Recycling and Reuse Act bans the disposal of 17 different types of electronic devices in Illinois landfills. Those items must instead be taken to a registered recycler or electronics collection site for reuse or recycling.
Even though a ban on the disposal of certain electronic devices has been discussed for more than three years, it will still likely come as a surprise to many residents who may not yet be familiar with the law.
“I’d be surprised if one in 10 people know it exists. I think it will be a wake-up call to people if they go to set these items out in the trash or at the curb,” said Peter Adrian, recycling coordinator for the Solid Waste Agency of Lake County.
Among the items that will not be accepted under the new ban include televisions, monitors, computers, printers, electronic keyboards, FAX machines, VCRs, portable digital music players, DVD players, video game consoles, small scale servers, scanners, electronic mice, digital converter boxes, cable receivers, satellite receivers and digital video disc recorders.
The act was originally adopted in 2008 and the initial phase of the legislation required manufacturers to establish a recycling program for discarded and unlawful electric products if they sell their products in Illinois. The new phase of the law prohibits individual consumers from disposing of these items as part of their normal garbage collection.
State Sen. Susan Garrett, D-29th, of Lake Forest, the chief sponsor of the act, said one of the main goals of the legislation is to keep potentially harmful materials out of the landfill. She said many of the electronic items include metals such as gold, cadmium, lead and silver, which can threaten the groundwater supply.
“These types of materials can be hazardous and can seep into our groundwater,” she said. “They’re bad for the environment. I think our job is really to educate consumers so we can keep these items out of landfills.”
Walter Willis, executive director of SWALCO, said another benefit of the ban is reducing the volume of electronic items that goes into the landfills. In 2011, SWALCO recycled about 2 million pounds of electronics and with the recycling ban he expects those numbers will grow at least 50 percent.
Adrian said residents who want to properly get rid of old electronic products have a number of options. SWALCO lists a number of municipal and township locations on its website, www.swalco.org, where citizens can drop off their electronic items for recycling. Best Buy also accepts used electronics as well as three Goodwill stores in Mundelein, Lake Zurich and Round Lake Beach, Adrian said. Sims Recycling Solutions in Lake Bluff will also accept electronic items for recycling.
Willis said the agency has been sending notices out to municipalities about the new law and also has posted information on its website.
“We’re trying to get the word out as best we can. I think we’ve done a pretty good job, but the final learning point will be at the curb,” he said.
William Plunkett, a spokesman for Waste Management, which provides residential waste collection services to approximately 20 Lake County communities including Antioch, Buffalo Grove, Gurnee, Grayslake, Deerfield, Lincolnshire, Lake Zurich and Wauconda, said any of the excluded electronic items that customers dispose of with their garbage will be left at the curb with a note informing customers of the new law. He added residents also cannot put the electronic items in with their normal curbside recycling collection.
“Our drivers will be on alert for these materials and we will not collect them,” he said. “We encourage the public to be aware of the changes in the law and comply with its intent.”
Under the law, local police would have the authority to issue fines against residents who knowingly violate it. The law provides for a fine of $25 for a first offense and $50 for subsequent offenses, but officials said the focus will be on educating the public.
“Realistically, we know we’re not going to be monitoring everyone’s trash as it goes out to the curb,” said Maggie Carson, a spokesperson for the Illinois Environmental Protection Agency. “What we’re trying to do is change the climate and let people know that there are a lot of options out there for recycling these items.”