The Island of Misfit Electronics

Jennifer Galuhn



As of January 1st, 2012, all Illinois residents are required by law recycle their old electronics. When a persons cell phone can no longer recover from being dropped on the floor too many times or their PC has finally been taken down by a virus, most people would erase the memory and just throw them out with the regular trash. This is now illegal. Now the item must be taken to an approved drop-off location where it can be taken apart and recycled. This new program is similar to the law against throwing out batteries in the regular trash. Refusal to recycle old electronics can also result in fines. The electronic recycling program is governed by the Solid Waste Agency of Northern Cook County (SWANCC) who have begun circulating information about how and where a person can recycle their electronics. First of all, this program requires that electronic items are recycled, not appliances. A few of the acceptable items are laptops, computers, mobile phones, televisions, MP3 players and even video game consoles. Whereas toasters, power tools, and air conditioners are not accepted. They also emphasize that these items be free of hazardous waste, such as leaked battery acid. The entire list is available on SWANCC’s website

This new legislation is another push for going green. Due to the rapid advances in electronic technology, landfills are filling up with discarded computers, cell phones, and other electronics. According to the EPA, between 2000 and 2005, 250 million PCs were discarded. As well as an estimated 100 million cell phones every year. The amount of waste is one reason the government enacted this legislation, the second is the amount of hazardous waste found in electronics. Beyond the materials that aren’t biodegradable, items such as rechargeable batteries, contain chemicals that extremely hazardous to the environment.

There are several options of where you can drop off approved items. One of the most convenient options would be any Best Buy location. They accept all small electronics required by SWANCC. As an added bonus if the item is in what is considered “slightly used condition” they may offer a trade-in credit on a gift card. For additional convenience they have kiosks at all of their stores that accept items such as batteries, CD/DVDS, printer cartridges, and even used gift cards, due to the embedded magnetic strip. This allows a person to drop off all electronics and batteries at one location. Another option is ABT electronics store, located at 1200 N. Milwaukee in Glenview who is also participating in this program, however, for any item that is not a television, LG, Panasonic, Samsung, Sharp,Sony, Toshiba or Zenith brand, they charge a small fee. For example, a DVD player drop-off is $5. Two other options for suburban residents are the Glenview Transfer Station at 1151 N. River Rd. from 9 a.m.–11:30 a.m., but only on Saturdays, and Winnetka Public Works 1390 Willow Rd., on Tuesdays from 10 a.m.-12 p.m., and Thursdays 1 p.m.-3 p.m.

Updated: Wednesday, January 25, 2012 00:01