SPRINGFIELD –Beginning January 1, it will no longer be legal for individuals to dispose of unwanted electronics in their regular trash. Discarded electronics, including computers, monitors, electronic keyboards, scanners, fax machines and many other electronic devices, must now be taken to a registered recycler for proper management. It will be illegal for the consumer to dispose of them in the trash and it will be illegal for Illinois landfills to accept them.
The Illinois Electronic Products Recycling and Reuse Act, which took effect in 2008, required manufacturers to establish a recycling program for discarded and unwanted electric products, if they sell their products in Illinois. This newest phase will include individual citizens in the effort to keep electronics, which contain a variety of potentially toxic contaminants, out of the state’s 48 active landfills.
A 2007 report showed that electronic products were the fastest growing portion of the solid waste stream. That year, three million tons of electronic products became obsolete, yet only 14 percent of those products were recycled.
During calendar year 2011, electronics manufacturers are being required to collect and recycle or refurbish more than 28 million pounds of products. The reuse of these products, including metals, plastics and glass, conserves natural resources and saves energy. The law requires manufacturers of 17 electronic products, including televisions, computers, monitors, printers, keyboards, and DVRs, to recycle their percentage of a statewide recycling goal. Manufacturers typically hire local recyclers to help them meet their goal.
The metals, which include gold, cadmium, lead and silver, if landfilled can threaten groundwater. When the metals are reused, it eliminates some of the need for mining for new supplies and can also be valuable resources when reclaimed.