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New Law Bans Electronics From Landfills

New law sponsored by state Sen. Susan Garrett is also a job creator.

Did you get a new computer or television over the holidays? What are you going to do with the old one? 

One place old electronic equipment will no longer end up is in Illinois Land Fills as the result of a new law authored and guided through the Illinois General Assembly by which took effect Sunday. 

In all, more than 30 items including televisions, monitors, computers, fax machines, VCRs, scanners and printers can no longer be deposited with regular trash. A complete list is available on the website of the Solid Waste Agency of Lake County

The primary purpose of the legislation is environmental protection, according to Garrett. She introduced the new law to make sure chemicals contained in electronic devices do not eventually find their way into the water supply. 

“The chemicals in these electronic devices leak out,” Garrett said. “They eventually get into our ground water and then the water supply. It is dangerous for the people of Illinois.” She is also hopeful old computers will find a renewed use. “Many can be refurbished and donated to schools and not for profits.” 

Deerfield, Highland Park Have Disposal Opportunities 

People in Deerfield and Highland Park have a number of options to dispose of electronics they no longer need but leaving them for the regular waste hauler will no longer work. 

Anyone who leaves these items curbside will find them there after the hauler has left according to . Street described a number of things people in Deerfield can do. 

“We have a number of planned drop-offs during the year,” Street said indicating there would be five or six opportunities in 2012. “Waste Management, our regular hauler, has offered to make a special pickup for $20.” 

People in Highland Park and Deerfield can also take their old electronic items to Highland Park’s electronics recycling facility at 1180 Half Day Road between 7 a.m. and 1 p.m. any Tuesday or Friday, according to . 

Mandel also said Highland Park will be having a “recycling extravaganza” between 8 a.m. and noon Saturday. 

“This is for anyone in Lake County especially people in Lake Forest, Deerfield, Highland Park and Highwood,” Mandel said. “This is an opportunity for people who can’t make it during the week.” 

Compliance Burden Placed on Land Fills, Manufacturers 

The burden of enforcing the law will be on landfills and transfer points that are regularly inspected by the Illinois Environmental Agency according to Mel Nickerson, an attorney for the Environmental Law and Policy Center.

Though fines can be imposed, Nickerson hopes education of the public will do the job. “Public awareness and local collection points by municipalities are essential,” he said. “Schools can get involved. People will police themselves. It’s the right thing to do.”

The law also places responsibility on manufacturers, according to Nickerson. In 2012, producers of electronics must recycle in tonnage an amount equal to 50 percent of what they make. The ratio rises to 60 percent in 2013 and beyond.

, the state House of Representatives sponsor of the bill, explained the new legislation was passed to replace existing laws which were not effective.

“When you have a law on the books people can be lulled even if it’s not working,” Biss said. “This gave me the opportunity to do something that really mattered.” Like Garrett, Biss is concerned about ground water eventually reaching the water supply.

Garrett also sees employment opportunities in the new legislation. “This is also a job creator,” she said. “I saw this as an opportunity to create jobs through the refurbishing of old computers and other equipment.”

RB January 03, 2012 at 07:53 PM
Susan Garrett has been a progressive leader representing our district. I appreciate that she has helped protect our environment.
David Greenberg January 04, 2012 at 11:32 PM
Has anyone done a study on the environmental impact caused by everyone having to drive somewhere to drop off the item(s) in question, and then driving back? What's wrong with having the waste hauler separate the items from the other recyclables? They drive ONE truck (well, maybe more than one, but definitely less than the number of cars involved) - and those trucks (in HP anyway) are fueled by compressed natural gas... Was any thought given to how this law impacts those who don't or can't drive? Such as the elderly?
RB January 05, 2012 at 12:18 AM
I guess homeowners are expected to deal with this as they have with oil based paints, batteries, cfl's and all the other things we are not supposed to give to the waste hauler. I don't see this as an entirely new or burdensome procedure.
Bryce Robertson January 05, 2012 at 01:16 AM
Before I get to the reasons why that couldn't happen, did you ever do a study on the environmental impact of the increased cost of driving the trucks around to hold the larger gross weight with all of the electronics included? And if you expect Veolia to take part in this, how much do you think they'd charge homeowners to perform the service? They already hiked their rates unnecessarily last year and the service still underperforms and under-impresses (one day last year, it took four days and five phone calls to get them to pick up ONE yard waste container). Also, electronics recycling is not conventional recycling. Most of the parts don't get melted down or turned into pulp as do glass, plastic, and paper. The parts get recycled, as in re-used. Most can easily be repaired. HP's parts, last I heard, were taken by a company whose job is to professionally refurbish and redistribute electronic parts. They would not be able to do this nearly as efficiently if all of the stuff were broken into pieces from being mashed around in dirty garbage trucks all day. Environmentally-conscious people will take the time to swing by the recycling center (which, if they're ever going towards 41, can't be more than 2 minutes out of their way) and drop their stuff off. I do this personally around once a month with all of the stuff from our house - and never once have made a special trip.
David Greenberg January 05, 2012 at 04:26 AM
Actually, requiring the homeowner to do anything other than putting the items into a container for pickup by the waste hauler is a burden. I'm not saying it should go in a landfill, but having to schlep it somewhere is burdensome on one's time and pocketbook. I think it'll be a bonanza for the scavengers on 'Big Junk Day' in the Spring :-) I also understand the nature of electronics recycling - not everything can be recycled or re-used. No one's going to fix a chip. IF it has gold on it, they might leach off the gold - but otherwise those chips end up getting ground up, and if there's enough of them, the tin might be separated out. Toner cartridges - sure, those get recycled, but generally you send the back - prepaid - in the box they came in to the mfr. In some instances, mfr's were 'recycling' the items - they'd charge the consumer some fee; the consumer would ship the item back to the mfr for 'recycling'. The mfr's were in many cases shipping the items overseas and dumping them. Local villagers would pick through the dumps, and manually recapture the valuable metals... I think the report was in BusinessWeek - maybe a year or two ago. Things may have changed in the interim though. I agree that Veolia has some issues with yard waste pickup. In all honesty though, I've called them, and they've had a supervisor come out and grab the bags the next business day - probably happens 4x a year - I'd suspect when the regular driver is out.
Bryce Robertson January 05, 2012 at 04:13 PM
See, David, this is where you and I differ on almost everything, it seems. Veolia, or any other waste hauler out there, was never responsible for taking electronics. Same thing with lead-based paint - if they took that, talk about environmental impact. You can't expect them to be responsible for taking anything harmful to the environment - a) it isn't their job and b) that's not what we pay them for. To me, I'm willing to spend a little more for the greater good - be it the gas that it takes to get me the 1.5 miles to the electronics plant, or the extra $50-100 a year in property taxes to maintain and upgrade the schools. Would you rather live in California, where property taxes don't affect the schools (thus the dire financial trouble they're in... just the other night, it was a dinner joke that it's almost to the point where a company could come in and start buying US states), or you have to (shudder) PAY a "recycling fee" anytime you buy a new electronic device - even if you aren't recycling anything? (http://www.dtsc.ca.gov/HazardousWaste/EWaste/#E-Waste%20Recycling%20Act) In California, not only do you have to pay, you also have to take it out to the facility - and they won't even take it during spring cleanup! Talk about burdensome. If we took the position that if something didn't directly affect us then we don't want to deal with it, there would be no such thing as a tax deduction. Sometimes we just have to do things because it's responsible, even if it is a pain.
RB January 05, 2012 at 06:19 PM
It may not be convienient all the time, but the little out of the way steps we all should take to help the environment are worthwhile. It is not someone else's responsibility, just like it is not someone else's problem.
David Greenberg January 05, 2012 at 08:55 PM
Lead-based paint is still made? :-) I thought that went out in the 60's. They're a waste hauler, they take lots of stuff that's harmful to the environment - they call it a "Special Pickup" and deal with it appropriately. Some items require a special license for particularly hazardous waste, but it still gets picked up and indeed, plain ole regular citizens aren't allowed to transport it at all. In CA - yes, they do have an "electronics fee" - varies by the item, and no, I wouldn't be in favor of such a fee here in Illinois. I'd also be in favor of ZERO tax deductions - all they've done is to complicate the tax code to the point where no one can make any sense of it. I have oft wondered just what we could save if we had a low flat tax with zero deductions. But that's a whole different thread...as is the concept of school funding. Don't get me wrong - I'm not saying "Screw the environment" - we all need it to survive. But this law in particular doesn't seem to be well thought out. In particular, no one has commented on how those who don't or can't drive are supposed to deal with these issues. What about the elderly? Now if the law was such that it was mandated to recycle all of this stuff, and once a month or once a quarter some non-profit came by and picked all of it up at zero cost to me - making all of their money off of the recycling - I'd be all for that. It'd work for just about everyone.
Pedro B January 05, 2012 at 09:52 PM
David, I believe you are making a mountain out of a molehill. This law/program for recycling is just fine. Do you really think it's the elderly w/o vehicles who will be the primary users of this service, or the families in the area (with multiple vehicles & more electronics) that can easily make this trip when needed(?) Just like I did with a neighbor, the younger families can offer to take along their elderly neighbors old TVs, which will probably be a lot less in number since they aren't upgrading HDTVs & PCs as often as we are.
RB January 05, 2012 at 10:23 PM
..."we need the environment to survive"....actually the environment needs us to survive right now. Step up and do a little something and Pedro is right, you're making a mountain out of a mole hill. People will manage...it's no big deal. Don't get your SUV in a bunch over this.
David Greenberg January 06, 2012 at 03:35 AM
You're entitled to your opinion that it's fine. Perhaps you'd like to offer your free pickup/drop-off service for anyone who asks you?
David Greenberg January 06, 2012 at 03:36 AM
What "mountain"? I asked a few questions... responded to some answers accordingly. I don't own an SUV.
Pedro B January 06, 2012 at 08:59 PM
I guess I simply don't see this as the same burden you do. Indeed, we can agree to disagree.
arianna jane calderon July 28, 2012 at 03:16 PM
This is a wonderful law. Hopefully it will be implemented accordingly. Being aware and conscious of the electronic garbage is the best preparation for this law. http://www.cpr-algonquin.com
Richard H Heineman Jr July 28, 2012 at 05:14 PM
Highland Park’s recycling facility in addition to electronics also takes batteries, CFL and regular florescent lights, and Styrofoam. You can make on trip for all of these items.

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