CHICAGO – As part of a continuing effort to promote environmentally-friendly ways of growing the Chicagoland area economy, Gov. Rod R. Blagojevich today announced the awarding of a $975,000 Opportunity Returns grant to the City of Chicago to develop a comprehensive electronics-recycling program and construct a permanent drop-off facility located at Goose Island on the city’s north side.
“Investing in projects that are expanding the computer and electronics recycling industry is a savvy way to help protect our environment while growing the local economy. This partnership with the City of Chicago represents an unprecedented effort to make the recycling of electronic items simple, safe and convenient. By supporting this new venture that will recycle everything from cell phones to computers, we can reduce the demand on our landfills and create more jobs for our working families,” Gov. Blagojevich said.
This investment will be used to help pay for costs associated with the construction and improvement of a permanent facility where residents can bring old, obsolete and end-of-life electronics (e.g., computers, TVs or cell phones) for recycling, reuse and/or proper disposal. Funds have also been used to purchase household battery collection receptacles that have been placed throughout Chicago and to pay for costs associated with the servicing of those containers. The City has partnered with local Walgreens stores to host battery collection receptacles and has also placed them at libraries across Chicago.
Electronic products, such as computers, cell phones and televisions, have become more and more pervasive in daily life. At the same time, electronic components have also become more and more disposable, which is why electronics waste is the fastest growing portion of America’s trash. Since some electronic items may contain hazardous material, the proper management of those items is critical.
Gov. Blagojevich recently announced the funding of 17 electronics recycling projects throughout the state totaling nearly $1 million, which leverage approximately $1.4 million in private investment. The grant program focuses on the development and expansion of permanent collection and processing facilities that handle end-of-life computers and other electronics.
“Gov. Blagojevich and I understand that this grant will not only allow us to greatly increase local electronics recycling efforts, but expand markets for a very important industry in our state and strengthen its capacity to create more jobs and continue making a positive impact on the local economy,” said State Senator Rickey Hendon (D-Chicago).
“Gov. Blagojevich and I believe the time has come to expand recycling efforts to divert more products from our waste stream that do tremendous damage to our environment. This new Goose Island facility is devoted entirely to that cause and will make it easier for people to recycle household electronics appliances and be responsible stewards of our environment,” said State Rep. Annazette Collins (D-Chicago).
Once fully operational, Chicago’s electronic-recycling program is expected to divert up to one million pounds of electronics from landfills annually. The program is also expected to divert more than one million pounds of batteries per year. Furthermore, the program will also be designed to take some of the discarded electronic goods and repair them for reuse. Refurbished computers will be made available to low-income residents, thus helping to reduce the “digital divide.”
“Electronic waste is one of the fastest growing segments of America’s trash. In addition, electronic items are made with valuable materials that are a great source of recoverable commodities, including steel, glass, plastic and precious metals. By making this investment, Gov. Blagojevich is helping expand the market for a fledgling industry, which promises significant job creation and growth over the coming years,” said Jack Lavin, Director of the Illinois Department of Commerce and Economic Opportunity.
An integral component of the project is a pilot training program. Training program participants will be parolees from programs designated by the Illinois Department of Corrections, including individuals leaving incarceration at the state’s Sheridan Correctional Center, the 1,300 bed medium security facility that Gov. Blagojevich reopened as the largest fully dedicated state drug prison and reentry program in the nation. The training program will include skill training, worksite exposure, and assistance with transitioning from the program to a job in the electronics reuse and recycling field. At least 60 individuals are expected to be trained through this pilot program. The Mayor’s Office of Workforce Development is coordinating this component of the project.
Though the Goose Island location is currently used periodically as a host site for one-day electronic recycling collection events, the full-time site will not be operational until construction concludes sometime early next year. The site will not accept drop-offs until that time.
Gov. Blagojevich’s Opportunity Returns regional economic development strategy is the most aggressive, comprehensive approach to creating jobs in Illinois’ history. Since a one-size-fits-all approach to economic development just doesn’t work, the Governor has divided the state into 10 regions – each with a regional team that is empowered and expected to rapidly respond to opportunities and challenges. Opportunity Returns is about tangible, specific actions to make each region more accessible, more marketable, more entrepreneurial and more attractive to businesses. It is about upgrading the skills of the local workforce, increasing the access to capital, opening new markets, improving infrastructure, and creating and retaining jobs. Opportunity Returns is about successfully partnering with companies and communities, both large and small, to help all of Illinois reach its economic potential.