By Paul Ploumis
SEATTLE (Scrap Monster): The recent amendments introduced to Senate Bill 1417 aims to revamp electronic waste recycling program in Illinois. The bill was heard in the Senate Environment and Conservation Committee yesterday. The amendments will bring about changes to Illinois’ Electronic Products Recycling and Reuse Act.
The state-wide e-waste recycling program was introduced for the first time in Illinois in 2009. The program had turned out to be a huge success, recording notable increase in the e-waste recycling volumes. According to a report by the Illinois Environmental Council, the program had also been successful in creating more number of jobs in the region. According to 2010 Recycling Economic Information Study Update for Illinois, the total economic impact of recycling and reuse of obsolete electronic products resulted in creation of around 8,000 jobs.
However, the program has become ineffective over the past few years, mainly because of the program model which basically works on the basis of weight of electronics sold in the state. The switch to lighter products and huge drop in sales of electronic devices has made it extremely difficult for manufacturers to meet the weight obligations prescribed by the law. It must be noted that manufacturers are required to pay penalty of 70 cents for every pound they are short of. According to original bill recommendations, the total annual recycling goal for all manufacturers of televisions and computer monitors was fixed at 34 million pounds and those for manufacturers of all other covered devices were set as 15.6 million pounds. As weight of devices sold has gone down significantly, the collection goals were reduced later on.
The amendment filed by State Senator Pamela Althoff recommends a switch from weight-based standard to convenience standard. According to environmental organizations, the switch would come as a big change, but is expected to result in significant improvement to the current situation by offering more recycling opportunities to residents. Further, it is expected to stabilize the program by providing stronger support to local governments, manufacturers, recyclers and collectors of discarded electronic devices.
Effective 2019, the bill would allow counties to establish permanent e-waste drop-off locations. The number of drop-off locations allocated to a county would depend upon that county’s population density. Alternatively, a county could choose four one-day drop-offs instead of one permanent site. The manufacturers will be held responsible for recycling of any electronics collected at the permanent or one-day drop-off sites.
Counties with population density less than 250 people per square mile must have a minimum of 1 permanent site, those having population density 250 and 500 per square mile must have 2 sites, those having density between 500 and 750 per square mile should have 3 sites, those having density between 750 and 1000 must have 4 sites and those having 1000 to 5000 people per square mile must have a minimum of 5 permanent sites. The counties can fund additional sites if required. Going by this calculation, Cook County can have up to 25 sites.
The second amendment of the final bill ensures that the existing landfill ban would continue for all 17 devices. It must be noted that there was an effort to limit covered electronics devices to five items.