As the third most populous city in the US, Chicago produces a significant amount of trash. In fact, the State of Illinois generates 19 million tons of garbage a year, with the city of Chicago and “Chicagoland” responsible for a large proportion of that figure. Today, the reduction of that waste and an increase in effective recycling is a priority for municipalities across the US, and nowhere is this more important than with e-waste.
E-waste is among the most challenging waste streams that municipalities deal with, and it presents a variety of problems for recyclers, from the complexity of devices themselves to the hazardous waste materials they contain. It is also one of the fastest-growing waste streams in the world—with an estimated 50 million metric tons generated in 2018 alone.
However, despite these challenges, e-waste recycling is also on the rise. Today, Chicago offers a range of services and facilities to help residents and businesses deal with waste electronics. Here, we have compiled a list of useful information on how to recycle electronics in Chicago, helping to efficiently and effectively recycle all kinds of e-waste.
What e-waste can be recycled in Chicago?
In 2012, the Illinois EPA passed the Electronics Products Recycling and Reuse Act which aimed to, “properly address the recycling and reuse of obsolete residential electronic products”.
In effect, this was a complete ban on the disposal of e-waste in landfills, with fines for both businesses and individuals caught disposing of e-waste improperly.
Products detailed in EPPRA include:
- TVs, VCRs, and DVD Players
- Audio Systems and Portable Music Players
- Telephones, cellphones, and PDAs
- Cable Receivers
- Old Computers and Computer Monitors (CRT and LED/LCD)
- Electronic Keyboards and Mice
- Fax Machines, Printers, and Scanners
- Small Scale Servers
- Video Game Consoles
- Digital Converter Boxes
However, when considering what e-waste can be recycled in Chicago, there are facilities available for a much larger selection of items, including recycling services for the following:
Office/Home Phones and Equipment
Cardboard, Paper, and Plastic
Printed Circuit Boards (PCBs)
Ink and Toner Cartridges
Industrial Electronic Equipment
Uninterruptible Power Supply (Personal and Network)
Why should I recycle e-waste in Chicago?
While the EPPRA laid the groundwork relating to what e-waste could be recycled in Chicago, it was superseded by the Consumer Electronics Recycling Act in 2017 (CERA). The goal of CERA was to modernize the existing electronics recycling program, bringing greater convenience to consumers and businesses in order to boost recycling rates across the city. In effect, CERA was implemented to establish a minimum number of collection locations throughout Illinois, all of which could collect and process e-waste more effectively than existing facilities.
This means that for businesses in particular, the motivation to recycle e-waste in Chicago is very much a legal one. As of January 2019, CERA states that manufacturers may opt to either join a manufacturer “clearinghouse” where multiple manufacturers band together in a single facility, or they may operate an independent e-waste program. Those who opt for independent programs must also financially contribute to the new collection sites throughout the state.
Where can I recycle electronics in Chicago?
Whether you need to find out where to take an old tv for recycling in Chicago, or you want to locate facilities for other types of e-waste, the Cook County area provides a number of drop-off points.
Facilities in Chicago
The city provides a full list of current facilities with an interactive map. Here searching by waste type or location is quick and simple, allowing you to instantly find your closest drop-off point.
For convenience, a list of places where you can recycle electronics in Chicago and its surrounding areas is provided here:
Household Chemical and Computer Recycling Facility
1150 N North Branch St, Chicago, IL 60642, USA
- Winnetka Public Works
1390 Willow Rd
- Glenview Transfer Station
3 Providence Way, Des Plaines
- Mount Prospect Public Works
1700 W Central Rd
- Hoffman Estates Village Hall
1900 Hassell Rd
- Orland Township Highway Department
16125 S. Wolf Rd., Orland Park 60467
Stores and Charities
For alternative answers to the question of where to recycle old electronics in Chicago, people in the Cook County area can look to stores and charities. These include:
- Best Buy
- The Salvation Army
How else can I recycle electronics in Chicago?
For businesses and commercial interests in Chicago that generate significant amounts of e-waste, or simply do not have the capabilities to dispose of e-waste themselves, waste management companies such as RTS can help. Through a fleet of digitally connected haulers, businesses can quickly and easily organize one-time collections or arrange recurring services specifically for e-waste. Timely reminders of arrival times streamline loading and collections, while our LEED-accredited team is available to help your business optimize existing waste management operations.
After pickup, insightful waste stream analytics detail how much waste is diverted from landfill, which of the approved facilities for electronics disposal in Chicago it was delivered to and when it arrived. This ensures companies of all types can advance their sustainability goals through verifiable data designed to improve future waste management operations.
Consumers and businesses who want to find more answers on how to recycle e-waste in Chicago can also refer to the waste management hierarchy for inspiration. In truth, the recycling of e-waste should be less of a priority when reuse and repair remain options. Keeping devices in circulation as long as possible is preferable, maximizing the resources used during manufacture and reducing the burden on the recycling industry.
For working devices, both businesses and individuals can look to donations or sales to ensure electronic devices remain in use. Individuals can pass older models of equipment on to friends or family members. Alternatively, organizations such as FreeGeek take donations of older devices, refurbish them, and sell them at discount prices to individuals who cannot afford the latest technologies. This is another great way to keep devices in use and out of the waste stream.
Repairing devices is also a viable alternative to electronics recycling in Chicago, helping to breathe new life into old tech. Items such as smartphone screens, batteries, and even certain computer components are just a few of the many devices that can be easily replaced by consumers or businesses. However, for more complex repairs, collaborative repair centers such as the Illini Gadget Garage work to extend the useful life of all types of devices while providing education and experiential learning on a do-it-yourself basis.
What does the future hold?
While great strides are being made to address the many challenges surrounding e-waste recycling in Chicago, there is still a long way to go. The number of devices in circulation will continue to rise, and as new technologies are developed and distributed, even more consumer products are likely to become part of the e-waste stream. In order to prepare for the future, sustainability education is a key driver to both increase the life of digital devices and reduce the amount of devices being sent to landfills.
With this in mind, RTS is proud to offer businesses effective education and training to reduce, reuse, and recycle all types of waste. RTS offers training by LEED-accredited professionals, and through on-site and virtual employee training programs, RTS is available to guide your business towards achieving your sustainability and compliance goals. Read about how RTS helped an MLB Stadium divert 11.4 tons of e-waste from landfills.
To help your business prepare for the future of electronic waste in Chicago, contact RTS today to discuss your requirements.