Champaign County Options for Electronics Recycling & Reuse

Pile of abandoned computers and monitors in empty school classroom.If you’re like most people, you probably have an old computer, laptop, or TV stashed in your basement, closet, or garage. It’s important to recycle these devices responsibly, as they contain both valuable materials (e.g. gold, copper, rare earth elements, etc.) and substances that could cause human and environmental health problems if improperly handled during disposal (e.g. lead, mercury, flame retardants, etc.). In fact, it’s against Illinois state law to dispose of certain electronics in landfills, so these items cannot be put in your household trash. To learn more about the Illinois Electronic Products Recycling & Reuse Act, see the Illinois EPA web site and the full text of the legislation at

Where to take your stuff

Residents of Champaign County, IL are lucky to have multiple options for recycling of unwanted electronics. See the Champaign County Electronics Recycling Guide for the names and locations of local businesses that offer electronics recycling year-round, complete with contact information and any restrictions that apply.

Note that there are two local businesses, Best Buy at 2117 N. Prospect and Habitat ReStore at 119 E. University Avenue, which accept old cathode ray tube (CRT) televisions and computer monitors. Best Buy accepts up to 3 TVs per household per day in store for free, provided screens are less than 32 inches in diameter. For CRT TVs over 32 inches and flat panels over 60 inches, Best Buy will haul the devices away from a customer’s home for free, only if they purchase a new TV from Best Buy. If a purchase from Best Buy is not made, the recycling service is still available, but for a $100 fee. Habitat ReStore accepts televisions or CRT monitors if a voucher is purchased for in-store use at a cost ranging from $10 to $50 per television or CRT monitor recycled, depending on size. (Goodwill will accept only flat screen TVs that are in good working order.) See the Champaign County Electronics Recycling Guide for complete details. Recycling of CRT TVs and computer monitors is becoming more difficult. Susan Monte, Champaign County Regional Planning Commission, explains some of the reasons that electronics recyclers have stopped accepting TVs or tube monitors. “In Illinois, the statewide system for recycling and/or reuse of electronics items discarded from residences requires electronic manufacturers doing business in Illinois to participate in ‘end-of-life’ management of these electronic products. At this time, electronics manufacturers have met their pre-established quotas for pounds of electronics to recycle/reuse for the fiscal year, and they have stopped paying electronics recycling companies to recycle electronics items.” Televisions and cathode ray tube (CRT) monitors comprise nearly half of the electronics items brought to the residential collections. Expenses incurred by electronics recycling contractors to responsibly recycle televisions and CRT monitors far outweigh revenue.  In fact, Champaign County had planned to host an electronics recycling collection events for residents on October 11, 2014, but that event has been canceled because of the cost issue for the recycling contractor now that the manufacturer quota has been met. Monte says, “If electronics manufacturers doing business in Illinois continue to meet early quotas for pounds of electronics items collected, we may potentially plan for one or two Countywide Residential Electronics Collections to take place in the Champaign-Urbana area next spring.”  Be sure to check the county recycling guide to see if dates of upcoming events have been added (if so, they’ll be featured at the top of the document); alternatively you can always call the Champaign County Regional Planning Commission at 217-328-3313.

For information on battery recycling, check ISTC’s Battery Recycling LibGuide at

For fluorescent lamps and CFLs, see the City of Urbana”Where Do I Recycle It?” page at and the City of Champaign Recycling guide at Alternatively, you can order pre-paid mail kits (options for both CFLs & tubes) from

Can you repair devices or pass them on?

If your unwanted electronics still function please consider passing them on to friends or relatives, or donating them to an appropriate charity. If they have minor flaws or damage, check the iFixit web site to see if there are repair guides that you can follow to return get your device running again. (Yes, you can do it! I’ve had students work on iFixit guides as class projects. You don’t need to be a tech expert to repair something you own!) It’s important to extend the useful life of electronic devices for as long as possible before recycling them, because of the huge investment of human and natural resources that go into their manufacture in the first place. For example, did you know that the majority of energy used in the life cycle of a computer is in its production, not in the time it’s used by a consumer? (See and for research on this subject.)

When in doubt, give Joy a shout

So be on the look out for county electronics collection events in the future, and in the meantime, check out the local business in the county recycling guide to avoid the lines. And if your device is unwanted rather than broken, or only slightly damaged, consider giving it a new home or repairing it before it’s sent for recycling. If you aren’t sure where or if you can recycle a device, you can also contact me at the Illinois Sustainable Technology Center. I’ll help steer you in the right direction.

Many thanks to Susan Monte for the update on the county collection event and for the county’s press release, from which her quotes are taken. Mentions of businesses in this post are for information only and should not be construed as endorsements.

Reminder: Champaign County Electronics Recycling Event, April 12, 2014

Over on the Illinois Sustainable Technology Center (ISTC) Blog, I wrote a post about the FREE residential electronics collection event being hosted by Champaign County (IL) tomorrow (Saturday, April 12) from 8 AM to noon at Parkland College. Click here to read that post, which includes a list of acceptable and non-acceptable items, and a phone number to call with questions. If you’re not able to attend tomorrow’s event, check out the Champaign County Electronics Recycling Guide at This document includes a list of local businesses and the electronic devices they accept for recycling year round.

If you’re outside Champaign County in IL, see the Illinois Environmental Protection Agency’s list of registered electronics collectors, recyclers, and refurbishers in Illinois at to find businesses in your area. Check the company web sites of the electronics recyclers in your area to see who is certified as R2, e-stewards, or both, and if possible, use a certified recycler. Such recyclers have been assessed by independent third parties to verify that they are in compliance with a publicly available technical specification. For more information on certification, see

Alternatively, wherever you are located within the United States, you can visit the National Center for Electronics Recycling (NCER) website ( and enter your zip code to find electronics take back and recycling programs in your area. The Sustainable Electronics Initiative also has a fact sheet listing many electronics take-back and donation options.

Ecyclemania on UI Campus March 18

Remember that Tuesday, March 18th is Ecyclemania on the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign campus. From 2-6 pm, you can drop off electronics (anything with a plug or that runs on batteries) at 3 locations, free of charge:

All e-waste collected will be recycled by a vendor that is R2 and E-steward certified. Weight of the material collected will be reported as part of the national Recyclemania competition. See for more information.

Remember, this is for personal electronics only. NO UNIVERSITY-OWNED ELECTRONICS ACCEPTED.

In an effort to reduce traffic congestion that is sometimes created by such an event, volunteers will help pick material using bicycles and carts (E-cyclers). Buildings participating in the event can begin collecting e-waste on the morning of March 18th. The E-cyclers will pick up that material and transport it to one of the collection sites. E-waste that is too heavy to transport by cart should be delivered to the ISTC vehicle drop-off.

If you have questions about the event, please contact Bart Bartels at or 217-244-7572.

For more information on campus electronics recycling procedures, you can view a recording of the last UI Sustainable Electronics Campus Consortium meeting (2/19/14), and associated documents at The documents listed include a PDF of slides highlighting community recycling resources for personally-owned electronics.

Note that if you are unable to participate in the Ecyclemania collection, Champaign County will also be hosting a free residential electronics collection event on April 12 from 8AM-noon at Parkland College. For more information, call 217-328-3313.


UI Sustainable Electronics Campus Consortium: Campus Electronics Recycling Procedures

The next University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign sustainable electronics campus consortium meeting will be Wednesday, February 19, from 1-2 pm in the Stephen J. Warner Conference Room at ISTC. See for visitor information.

This meeting is focused on operations. Are you unsure of how to handle the disposal of University-owned electronics? Jeff Weaver, of University Property Accounting and Reporting, will outline the campus procedures for proper end-of-life management of electronic devices. Bart Bartels of Facilities and Services will discuss an upcoming e-waste collection event for the campus community for non-University owned devices. Information on other community electronics recycling opportunities will also be provided to raise awareness among faculty, staff and students on how to handle their personal electronics. With the time remaining, we can discuss opportunities to improve policies and diversion rates to guide future operations-related activities of this consortium.

If you are unable to attend the meeting in person, it will also be broadcast via GoToWebinar. You may register for the webinar at Feel free to share this link with other interested parties.

The sustainable electronics campus consortium is a project of the Illinois Sustainable Technology Center’s Sustainable Electronics Initiative (SEI; To learn more about the campus consortium, see or contact Joy Scrogum at or 217-333-8948.

Champaign County Electronics Collection Event October 12, 2013

This post was written by ISTC staff member Kirsten Walker.

Do you have electronics piling up in your garage or other storage area? Wonder what you can do with them? You are in luck. The Champaign County Electronics Collection event is coming up on October 12, 2013. This is a free drop off for specific items such as: televisions, computers and laptops, computer monitors, keyboards, mice, cables, printers and scanners, radio and stereos, VCRs and DVD Players, mobile phones, office electronics, digital camera, communication devices, microwaves, and gaming systems.  There is a limit of 10 items per resident.  Many recyclers have stopped accepting TVs and computer monitors because of the problem of proper recycling of the CRT (leaded glass) in those units, so this event is a perfect opportunity to get rid of those items now. The event is being held at 3202 Apollo Drive (News-Gazette Distribution Center) in Champaign from 8 a.m. to 12 noon and will be held rain or shine. If you participate in the county’s recycling survey, you could enter to win a $50 Amazon gift card. Visit to complete the survey. For more information on the Illinois landfill ban, please see the Illinois IEPA website.

There are other businesses that accept electronics during the year including: Goodwill (912 W. Anthony Drive, Champaign, 217.359.8729 and  111 Calvin Street, Savoy, 217.290.1864), Habitat for Humanity ReStore (119 E. University Avenue, Champaign, 217.355.6460), Marco Steel* (302 S. Market Street, Champaign, 217.352.4707), Mack’s Twin City Recycling* (2808 N. Lincoln Avenue, Urbana, 217.328.2100), Green Purpose* (807 Pioneer Street, Champaign, 217.954.1450), Best Buy* (2117 N. Prospect Avenue, Champaign, 217.352.8883), Office Depot* (111 Convenience Center, Champaign, 217.373.5202), Staples* ( 2005 N. Prospect Avenue, Champaign, (217.373.8490). There are restriction on items accepted at locations with an asterisk (*), so it is advisable to call first.

Call for Papers: “Electronic Waste–Impact, Policy and Green Design”

Challenges logoSEI’s Professor William Bullock and Joy Scrogum will guest edit a special issue of the journal Challenges, entitled “Electronic Waste–Impact, Policy and Green Design.”  From the issue’s rationale:

“Electronics are at the heart of an economic system that has brought many out of poverty and enhanced quality of life. In Western society in particular, our livelihoods, health, safety, and well being are positively impacted by electronics. However, there is growing evidence that our disposal of electronics is causing irreparable damage to the planet and to human health, as well as fueling social conflict and violence.

While global demand for these modern gadgets is increasing, policy to handle the increased volumes of electronic waste has not kept pace. International policy governing safe transfer, disposal, reclamation, and reuse of electronic waste is nonexistent or woefully lacking. Where laws do exist about exporting and importing hazardous waste, they are routinely circumvented and enforcement is spotty at best. While European Union countries lead the way in responsible recycling of electronic and electrical devices under various EU directives, most industrialized nations do not have such policies. In the U.S., for example, most electronic waste is still discarded in landfills or ground up for scrap.

It is imperative that we consider how green design practices can address the growing electronic waste problem. This special issue is meant to do just that and spur discussions on how electronic products can become greener and more sustainable.”

If you are interested in submitting a paper for this special issue, please send a title and short abstract (about 100 words) to the Challenges Editorial Office at, indicating the special issue for which it is to be considered. If the proposal is considered appropriate for the issue, you will be asked to submit a full paper. Complete instructions for authors and an online submission form for the completed manuscripts are available on the Challenges web site at The deadline for manuscript submissions is June 1, 2013.

Greening the Gift of Gadgets

It’s the holiday season, and odds are many people are out frantically shopping for last minute gifts, many of which will involve electronics of some sort. If you’re giving the gift of gadgets this year, here are a few things to keep in mind.

First, and always, consider–do you or the loved one in mind really NEED the new device, or does an existing device serve the person’s purposes adequately? Will it improve your life in a substantial way, or is this a status symbol? In Western culture in particular, there’s a push to have the latest and greatest gadget. A new version of a device is released and thousands flock to purchase it, even if they barely use half the features on the older version of the device which they already own. There’s a perception that one needs the latest version in order to keep up with new technology, or at least to keep up appearances, and all too often the actual functionality of a device and how it fits a person’s specific situation and needs, is lower on the list of purchasing considerations. Consumers can be fickle, and can suffer from app envy. Stop for a minute and think about this. Watch The Story of Stuff. Then watch The Story of Electronics.

If you still feel compelled to buy, are you able to buy a used version of the device? What about a refurbished version? Many electronics retailers offer refurbished versions of devices for slightly lower prices, which operate just as well as a brand new device. My refurbished wireless router at home is a fine example of the reliability of such items. It’s always desirable to see products reused as much as possible before recycling. Any way in which the product lifecycle can be extended is positive in terms of environmental impacts.See this HowStuffWorks article on How Refurbished Electronics Work.

If for whatever reason a used or refurbished version isn’t an option, take some time to consider the environmental ratings of the products and brands you’re considering. Helpful consumer guides include the Greenpeace Guide to Greener Electronics, the latest version of which was just released in November 2012. , and the Good Guide (although currently, the Good Guide only ranks cell phones according to environmental, social, and health criteria). Always look for ENERGY STAR rated devices which will operate more efficiently. Such devices will have the ENERGY STAR logo on them, and you can do some research ahead of time on the program’s web site. Determine whether or not the device you’re interested in is EPEAT registered. EPEAT stands for Electronic Product Environmental Assessment Tool, and involves standards for categorizing electronic products at various levels based upon a variety of environmental considerations. The category standards for a given device category are developed with the input of various stakeholders, including those involved in electronics development and purchasing, as well as representatives from governments, environmental advocacy organizations and academia. Contrary to common misconception, EPEAT is a voluntary registry, not a certification in which a third-party issues a product its stamp of approval, as evidenced by Apple’s voluntary decision earlier in the year to remove certain products from the registry, and subsequently voluntarily choose to add them back after public outcry over this decision and criticism related to designs for certain products that made them more difficult to disassemble and/or recycle. See for more on that. Even so, if a product meets EPEAT standards, you can feel confident that its environmental impact has been carefully considered throughout its lifecycle. See this infographic for more on the environmental benefits of EPEAT rated products. Raise Hope for Congo ranks companies on their efforts towards using and investing in conflict-free minerals. (See the “Conflict Minerals” post category of this blog for more information on what conflict minerals are and why they’re important.)

Once you’ve dutifully done that homework, you should be ready to buy, right? Well, if you’re in the U.S., maybe you should further consider whether or not your state has electronics product legislation on the books. See the State & Local page of the SEI web site Law & Policy section to find out and have a summary of the type of law your state has, the devices covered, and a link to the full text of the legislation. Why does this matter? Well, some states (like Illinois, for example) require manufacturers to register or submit recycling plans with a state agency prior to being allowed to sell their products within that state. It’s all part of efforts to ensure that certain electronic devices don’t end up in landfills and that manufacturers are supporting the end-of-life management of their own products (see As a recent article in a National Center for Electronics Recycling (NCER) newsletter pointed out, some brands are not compliant with state laws. You might want to buy a certain brand because of great holiday deals being offered–but maybe those products aren’t even supposed to be sold in your state! It’s worth checking the NCER resources related to this.

You’ve waded through all these environmental considerations and are feeling good about your choices. The new gadget is wrapped and ready for giving. But then you remember–what should your loved one do with their old device? There are many different options, and what is available to you will depend on your location. A good place to start is the SEI fact sheet on Electronics Take-Back and Donation Programs. A quick way to check for options in your area is to visit the Earth911 web site. And you can always contact your county or municipal recycling coordinator–he or she will be able to tell you whether or not there are collection events offered in your area, and which local retailers and recyclers accept electronics for recycling.

Now for extra points—how environmentally friendly was the gift wrap you used? 🙂

Happy holidays from SEI!

Webinar: Electronics Recycling in Will County 2012

Join us for a webinar on Wednesday, November 28, 2012, 12:00 PM to 1:00 PM CDT. This seminar will be hosted at the Illinois Sustainable Technology Center (ISTC) in Champaign, IL, and simultaneously broadcast online. The presentation will be archived on the ISTC web site (see for more information and additional webinar archives).

Marta Keane, Recycling Program Specialist & Green Business Relations Coordinator for the Will County (IL) Land Use Department Resource Recovery & Energy Division, will present “Electronics Recycling in Will County 2012.” Register online for this webinar at

Abstract: Effective January 1, 2012, Illinois banned disposal of electronics in landfills. This presentation will describe Will County’s collection efforts before the mandatory ban, the county’s Front Door Electronic Service Program (a 3-year pilot program started April 2011), and steps taken to prepare for the ban. Results of these efforts thus far will be discussed as well as some remaining issues yet to be resolved. Examples of additional sustainability programs being conducted by Will County will also be described, including: efforts that resulted in receiving the Illinois Governor’s Sustainability Award in 2012; household hazardous waste service; tire collection events; book reuse & recycling events; shoe collection/textile collection; medication collection; green building improvements; and the Landfill Gas-to-Energy project.

SEI, the Great Lakes Regional Pollution Prevention Roundtable (GLRPPR), and ISTC are hosting a series of seminars this fall focused on sustainable electronics research and issues. Watch the SEI calendar for upcoming seminar dates. You may contact Nancy Holm, SEI Research Coordinator, to be added to the mailing list to receive email notifications of upcoming seminars.

State and Local Legislation Chart Updated

The “U.S. State & Local Legislation” chart, available within the Sustainable Electronics Initiative Law & Policy section, has recently been updated. The chart provides a list of U.S. states and municipalities where some form of legislation related to electronic waste (e-waste) exists, or has been proposed.

You may click on the name of each location to visit the site for the relevant environmental agency (e.g. the Arizona Department of Environmental Quality). Each entry includes the type of legislation (e.g. “e-waste” for e-waste recycling, collection, and/or disposal ban, or “disposal ban” if the legislation merely states that certain electronics may not be landfilled); whether or not the legislation is proposed and when it did or will take effect; when the bill was passed (if appropriate); and the devices covered.

If you click on “Download the Chart” right above the table, you will be taken to a printable PDF version of the chart, which further indicates for what types of entities the legislation provides free recycling and what entities pay for this recycling.

If you are aware of any updates that should be included on this chart, or on the “Federal,” “International,” or “Voluntary Initiatives” pages, please send your suggestions to Joy Scrogum.

Don’t Forget Electronics on America Recycles Day

Happy America Recycles Day! Celebrated annually on November 15, America Recycles Day is a program of Keep America Beautiful, Inc. Those of us who were alive in the 1970s will remember Keep America Beautiful, or KAB, as the folks who brought us one the most successful public service campaigns ever, in the form of a Native American man weeping while bearing witness to thoughtless pollution. (You can watch a clip of that famous public service announcement featuring Iron Eyes Cody, and read more about KAB’s history on the organization’s web site. Incidentally, it’s interesting to consider how that PSA might look today if it focused on e-waste instead of some of the more obvious forms of pollution like air pollution, litter, etc.)

Celebrated since 1997, America Recycle’s Day is about educating the public about how and what to recycle, while encouraging people to do so as part of their daily routine.  When most people take part in America Recycles Day events, they focus on the typical items you might place in the nearest blue bin or on the curb for weekly collection–paper, plastics, aluminum cans, etc. However, if you’re reading this blog, you already know that it’s just as important to consider recycling or reusing electronics when they are no longer of use to you.

So take the opportunity today to educate yourself, friends, family and colleagues about how you can responsibly dispose of your electronic devices. Visit the KAB website, and use the recycling location tool available there through KAB’s partnership with Earth911 to find electronics recycling locations in your community.  Just type “electronics” into the “What?” field (or a specific type of item, such as “television” or “batteries”) and then enter you zip code into the “Where?” field to call up a list of area businesses or organizations that accept such items for proper recycling.

Also, read the SEI fact sheet on Electronics Take-Back and Donation Programs to learn other options if there are not local resources available to you, or if you’re interested in selling devices for some extra cash or donating your electronics for a good cause. SEI also provides an extensive Summary of U.S. State Laws on Electronic Waste and Disposal Bans so you can learn what laws, if any, apply in your area. The Law & Policy section of the SEI web site will also help you learn about regulations on the local, federal and international levels, as well as providing more information on voluntary initiatives.

And take some time to think about what is involved in the responsible recycling of electronic devices. Read about the existing Certification programs on the SEI site.

Then take the America Recycles Day pledge today, and be sure to check the box on the pledge form that applies to electronics: “I pledge to recycle my used batteries, cell phones and other electronic waste through a take-back program or e-waste facility near me.”

And then live by that pledge–365 days a year.