Electronics recycling gaining ground thanks to Illinois landfill ban

Nathan Wright, left, and Mike Zeigweid with Quincy Recyle stack TVs on a pallet last September before the company stopped accepting TVs from the public. (H-W File Photo)
Posted: Mar. 25, 2013 9:27 am Updated: Apr. 8, 2013 6:15 pm

Herald-Whig Staff Writer

Nearly 39 million pounds of old televisions, computers and other electronics have been recycled during the first year of a statewide ban on throwing away those materials in Illinois landfills.

According to the Springfield State Journal-Register, the ban is part of a law that took effect in 2008 requiring manufacturers to start recycling programs for discarded and unwanted electronic products. A new phase of the law took effect Jan. 1, 2012, that applies to consumers. Illinois residents are now required to take electronic devices to a registered recycler.

The Illinois Environmental Protection Agency's website -- -- lists more than 140 collection sites available statewide. Two collection sites are listed in Adams County -- Quincy Recycle and Degonia and Sons, both in Quincy.

Quincy Recycle started collecting electronic waste items Sept. 4 at its facility at 526 S. Sixth. By the end of 2012, the firm had collected about 90,000 pounds of disposed electronics, according to Philip Hildebrand Jr., vice president of operations.

"It's been an overall huge success for the community and us as a whole. People continue to find our services here both convenient and friendly with the drop-off service and the fact that it's one place they can drop off everything they need to," Hildebrand said. "The public has been pleased with our performance and our ability to take the things that were hard to get rid of before off their hands."

Hildebrand said Quincy Recycle generally takes all of the electronic waste items on the state's landfill-ban list. The company stopped taking televisions and monitors from the general public at the end of November because of certain EPA restrictions.

"That change was purely the result of the state of Illinois specifically not allowing us to charge consumers any drop-off" fee for televisions and monitors, Hildebrand said. He said those particular items "have negative values" that can't easily be recovered.

"It can cost as much as $25 for the recycler to environmentally dispose of a CRT (cathode ray tube) television monitor," Hildebrand said.

Hildebrand said Quincy Recycle continues to accept televisions and monitors from its commercial clients, because the firm is allowed to charge businesses and commercial outlets a $25 handling fee to cover its expenses.

Hildebrand said consumers still can get rid of televisions and monitors.

"There are programs available through television manufacturers' buy-back funds and those kinds if things that we're not part of here at Quincy Recycle," he said.

According to State Journal-Register, manufacturers are assigned minimum recycling goals and must register and participate or face fines. An Illinois EPA report showed that 71 electronics manufacturers, including Apple, Best Buy and Sony, participated. Six failed to participate.

Degonia and Sons, 1601 Vermont, has been in business for a little more than a year. John Degonia, owner and operator, said the firm collected about 25 tons of electronics for recycling in 2012. The company accepts all of the electronic recycling items on the state's landfill-ban list at no charge, including televisions and monitors.

"As a general rule, if it takes a plug or has a battery, it generally falls under the e-waste category," Degonia said.

"We are a free-of-charge service. We pick those up and send them on to a recycler who takes care of all of that on the other end. We may have a service charge occasionally for things like an air conditioning unit or a refrigerator -- something along those lines -- for the simple fact that we have to have the Freon removed or the coils removed appropriately."

Degonia said his company makes money by turning in large amounts of electronic items at one time to various recycling firms. He said it's not practical to transport a small amount of items.

"But if we send 600 TVs, and they're broken down the right way, we get a small percentage for all those items," he said. "We strive for 100 percent recyclability. We don't throw away much of anything. That way nothing is going into the landfills at all. The plastic gets recycled. The tube goes to a recycler that can handle taking care of any hazardous materials the right way."

Degonia picks up electronic items at homes and businesses by appointment, but he hopes to establish a drop-off point so people can bring in e-waste at their convenience.

Statewide, certain nonprofit groups have been earning money from electronics recycling.

In Quincy, for example, St. Peter Elementary School collects donations of old cell phones; empty inkjet and laser printing cartridges; laptop computers and various small electronics, such as iPods, iPads and MP3 players that no longer work. These items are then boxed and shipped to an electronics recycler known as the Funding Factory, which pays the school a certain amount for each item.

The school, in turn, uses that money to finance technology upgrades, according to Sally Blickhan, technology coordinator.

"We're just taking smaller electronics, but we're seeing a lot of cellphones and a lot of smaller devices that people want to dispose of -- small laptops and that type of thing," Blickhan said. "People want to help the school, and we publicize that we take those things."