Christel Springmire is keeping DeKalb County residents ahead of pace for a change in Illinois law that will take effect on Jan. 1, 2012.
As the DeKalb County Health Department’s solid waste coordinator, Springmire is responsible for ensuring that all electronics are disposed of properly, and she supervised the semi-annual electronics recycling program at the health department on Saturday morning.
“The solid waste program has been in effect since 1995, when we first filed with the EPA,” Springmire said. “Electronics was part of our mandate to reduce what went to the landfill.”
The Illinois general assembly recently passed a law that will make it illegal to put unwanted electronic devices with municipal waste that is intended for disposal at a landfill after Jan. 1. Modern electronics use potentially dangerous metals like mercury, lead and cadmium in their manufacture. Recycling programs prevent those metals from ever having a chance to leak into the environment from a landfill.
In addition, many electronic devices can be fixed and re-sold, or broken down into their component parts for recycling of materials such as glass or plastic.
Recycling programs normally collect items like old televisions, computers, computer monitors, VCRs, DVD players, stereos and cell phones.
“We have been in business since 2002, and we got into recycling in 2005,” said Barb Ehresman, owner of Advanced Technology Recycling of Pontiac. Companies like ATR work with counties, municipalities, and private business in Illinois to remove unwanted electronics and dispose of them properly. The discarded electronics and their components do have some monetary value, so they will pay government agencies for each ton of electronics collected.
Part of the money that the DeKalb County Health Department collects is shared with the small army of volunteers that community groups organize to help remove the electronics from residents’ vehicles and place them onto the correct pallets with similar devices.
“We have been doing this for a few years,” said Cliff Golden, scoutmaster for Boy Scout troop 33 in DeKalb. “They (the Boy Scouts) have so much energy. This is nice because it’s recycling, plus we get some money for the troop.”
By CURTIS CLEGG - firstname.lastname@example.org