SPRINGFIELD – Furthering efforts to protect the environment and the public, Governor Rod R. Blagojevich today signed an Executive Order directing state government to recycle electronic equipment when it reaches the end of its usable life. Electronics may contain toxic chemicals such as mercury, lead, cadmium and beryllium that can be released into the environment if improperly disposed. The Governor’s Executive Order will require all state agencies, boards, and commissions under the Governor’s control to recycle or dispose of obsolete electronic equipment – including PCs and laptops, fax and copy machines, cellular phones and other ‘e-scrap’ – in an environmentally responsible manner.
“Old electronic equipment can contain highly toxic chemicals – so when it’s dumped into a landfill or burned, those toxins become a part of our environment and can be breathed or consumed by humans. By directing state agencies to be more responsible with potentially toxic electronic waste, we can ensure that state government is doing what it can to keep our land and water clean, and people safe,” said Gov. Blagojevich. “But state government is just a small part of a bigger problem. Industries and households across Illinois also dispose of outdated or broken electronic equipment. We should make sure they are not putting the public in harm’s way when they dispose of their electronics. I will urge the General Assembly to build on the efforts of my administration by adopting statewide electronics recycling legislation.”
Governor Blagojevich’s order today comes as a result of extensive research and recommendations from the Computer Equipment Disposal and Recycling Commission that was established as a result of legislation the Governor signed into law in August 2005. The Commission submitted a comprehensive report to Governor Blagojevich and members of the General Assembly in May 2006 that identified concerns related to the disposal and recycling of computer equipment, as well as legislative and regulatory solutions for consideration.
Of the 57,000 employees that work in agencies, boards or commissions under the Governor, approximately 55,000 people regularly use a PC or laptop for their day-to-day work. This order will require responsible disposal as state agencies find it necessary to upgrade and replace equipment every three to five years. The order will also impact disposal of thousands of fax and photocopy machines, cellular phones and PDAs that are upgraded or replaced each year.
In Illinois government, the Department of Central Management Services (CMS) receives surplus electronic and other equipment from state agencies. The electronics will now be transferred to an external vendor that will ensure proper refurbishment, resale or disposal. Equipment that can be refurbished will be redistributed into Illinois government, or made available to schools or local government entities. Electronics that maintain a resale value will be sold through the state’s ongoing public auction process – both online and at regular surplus property auctions. If items fail to sell – generally because technology is too old – the vendor will recycle glass, plastics and metals, while chemical components will be disposed of using approved techniques.
Premier Computer Service, Inc. in Moline, Ill., along with its business partner, Belmont Technology Remarketing in Elk Grove Village, Ill., was recently awarded the contract that will ensure proper end-of-life disposal of state equipment.
The Blagojevich Administration’s electronics recycling initiative makes Illinois the first state in the Midwest to implement electronic recycling policies. Gov. Blagojevich encouraged members of the Illinois General Assembly to consider findings from the Computer Equipment Disposal and Recycling Commission and develop statewide electronic recycling legislation when it convenes next January. If the General Assembly passes legislation next spring, Illinois could become the fifth state in the nation to enact similar environmentally responsible guidelines statewide.
Governor Blagojevich’s actions to foster a more sustainable planet stands in stark contrast to the lack of leadership from President George W. Bush’s U.S. Environmental Protection Agency on issues ranging from mercury reduction to electronics recycling and beyond. Today Gov. Blagojevich sent a letter to President Bush to call on his administration to develop a national solution in light of a report from The National Safety Council that predicted there soon will be more than 300 million obsolete computers in the U.S. – one for every American man, woman and child – and yet less than 10% of this equipment will be recycled.
“Taxpayers and local governments often bear the risk, burden and cost of managing these wastes. Therefore, I ask you to take a leadership role by creating a comprehensive program to promote the responsible recycling, reuse and disposal of electronic equipment across our nation,” Gov. Blagojevich wrote to President Bush.
He added, “Mr. President, many components of electronic equipment – including plastic, glass and metals – can be reused or recycled, which significantly reduces the amount of toxic and hazardous substances that may enter the environment. Further, by extending the useful life of products, reuse conserves energy and raw materials needed to manufacture new products and reduces the pollution associated with energy use and production, while recycling achieves similar results by reclaiming materials such as metals and plastics and using them again in other products.”
“We continue to learn more and more about the detrimental affect that electronics can have on our environment if they are discarded improperly. The Executive Order that Gov. Blagojevich signed today makes Illinois government a leader and sets an example for others that we can and should dispose of our electronics responsibly,” said CMS Director Paul Campbell.
“This decision by the Governor is a clear example of his continuing efforts in Illinois to lead in reducing waste and limiting negative impact on the environment,” said IEPA Director Doug Scott. “This program will help protect the environment by recycling and keeping what would have otherwise been waste, out of Illinois landfills.”
Other steps that Gov. Blagojevich has taken to protect the environment through his administration to reduce the health threats to Illinois residents making schools, homes, and other buildings safer:
- Through the past two years, Gov. Blagojevich has provided more than $1.6 million in grants to expand electronics recycling and reuse opportunities through the Department of Commerce and Economic Opportunity (DCEO) to foster consumer electronics recycling.
- The Illinois Environmental Protection Agency (IEPA) household hazardous waste collections help residents rid their homes and garages of common household products that are potentially hazardous to our health and the environment. The materials collected at the collections are disposed of properly and will help to keep the environment free of hazardous waste. IEPA accepts oil-based paint; household batteries; paint thinner; used motor oil; herbicides; drain cleaner; insecticide; lawn chemicals; pesticides; solvents; old gasoline; antifreeze; pool chemicals; hobby chemicals; cleaning products; aerosol paints and pesticides; Mercury; fluorescent lamp bulbs; eyeglasses and cellular phones. During the last collection 1,455 participants representing 1,851 households dropped off the equivalent of more than 214 fifty-five gallon drums of toxic materials and 120 cubic yards of paint. To learn more, visit www.epa.state.il.us.
- In April Gov. Blagojevich signed into law mercury switch legislation, which creates a statewide program for collecting and removing mercury-containing switches from retired vehicles before they are processed as scrap metal and emitted into the environment. The new law requires automakers to create mercury switch collection programs, offering storage containers to auto recyclers and dismantlers, and arranging for transportation of the removed switches.
- Focusing on retail products, three years ago the Governor signed legislation that ended the sale of mercury thermometers and novelty items in Illinois. This is another step to remove mercury from the waste stream and replace those items with safer available alternatives and build on efforts to reduce mercury-containing products that pose a potential health hazard.
- IEPA developed a program for removing hazardous educational wastes from the state's school laboratories and classrooms to rid classrooms of unused or leftover laboratory and curriculum products that are potentially hazardous or toxic. This also ensures that these chemicals do not end up in a landfill or are disposed of illegally. To date, the IEPA has conducted 612 Hazardous Education Waste Collections serving more than 409 communities disposing of more than 1,594 fifty-five gallon drums equivalents of toxic materials.