Christel Springmire has seen some fairly ancient electronics.
But the oldest item she’s ever seen was a wooden television set with knobs and levers that would be considered foreign to many people of younger generations.
Springmire, who has organized many electronic recycling collections as the solid waste coordinator at the DeKalb County Health Department, welcomes televisions and electronics of all shapes and sizes at the county’s collection sites so they don’t end up in a landfill.
“There are a lot of heavy metals [in televisions] that won’t damage a landfill,” Springmire said. “But they won’t do it any good, either.”
Springmire works with various municipalities throughout the county to spearhead the e-waste recycling initiative with the Environmentally Responsible Company of Chicago based in Montgomery.
The program was a result of the state law that took effect in 2012 banning electronics from being disposed of in landfills. Some of these electronics include televisions, computer equipment, DVD players and satellite receivers.
“A landfill ban is a common way to encourage people to recycle items that are easily recycled,” Springmire said.
From May to December, the company reported more than 163,000 pounds of e-waste had been collected throughout the county.
After the electronics are collected, Springmire said they are sent to a smelter where the metals are melted and extracted through a refining process.
Goodwill Northern Illinois is another option for residents looking to get rid of their old electronics.
Goodwill Northern Illinois public relations marketing manager Shannon Halverson said they take most electronics except console televisions. All donated electronics must be in working condition, except for computer equipment, she said.
Goodwill established a partnership with Dell Computers in 2004, resulting in more than 450,000 pounds of computer electronics being recycled.
Halverson said all donations are tax deductable, and there’s no better time than now to bring in these electronics.
“Now is a great time with spring and spring cleaning,” she said.
Although the county’s electronic collections have been successful so far, Springmire said the new law still hasn’t registered with some residents.
“There are 105,000 people in DeKalb County, and I would say many are aware,” she said. “But everybody obviously is not, because people are still putting it out on the curb.”
When residents set their old television out on the curb, Springmire said the law could potentially be broken three different times. The consumer violates the landfill ban by setting out the item, the hauler violates it when he or she picks it up, and the landfill breaks the law if they accept it, she said.
“It’s kind of a convoluted system,” she said.
But with so many convenient drop-off locations, Springmire said recycling electronics is easier than ever for residents.
Neither Goodwill nor the county collection sites have a limit on items residents can recycle.
The DeKalb County Health Department will also hold collections in their parking lot, 2550 N. Annie Glidden Road in DeKalb, recycling latex paint July 13 and motor oil Aug. 3.
For a complete list of recyclable items visit DeKalbCounty.org/Health.