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Local News

Rauner signs electronics recycling bill into law

Leo Ocon uses a roll of clear tape to wrap a pallet of old television sets April 11 during Will County's Recyclepalooza in Joliet. A temporary fix aimed to save underfunded electronics recycling programs statewide was signed into law last week.
Leo Ocon uses a roll of clear tape to wrap a pallet of old television sets April 11 during Will County's Recyclepalooza in Joliet. A temporary fix aimed to save underfunded electronics recycling programs statewide was signed into law last week.

A temporary fix aimed to save underfunded electronics recycling programs statewide was signed into law last week by Gov. Bruce Rauner, allowing Will County officials to breathe a sigh relief – for now.

House Bill 1455, sponsored by state Rep. Emily McAsey, D-Lockport, addresses funding shortfalls through 2017 that have jeopardized electronics recycling programs statewide as demand for services continues to grow. The law is effective immediately.

Catherine Kelly, spokeswoman for the governor’s office, said the current electronics recycling law is “out of date and putting an undue burden” on local governments.

“This bill gives local governments, manufacturers and stakeholders time to develop new regulations for electronics recycling,” Kelly said.

Dean Olson, who heads Will County’s Resource Recovery and Energy Division, said HB1455 certainly is a temporary solution – but a critical one that saves Will County’s program and others statewide from being forced to shut down because of a lack of funding.

The legislation increases the amount of electronics manufacturers are required to pay to recycle each year by about 10 million pounds, Keane said. It’s a short-term solution in response to last year’s debacle in which manufacturers reached their required goal halfway through the year, allowing them to stop paying recycling companies.

The county’s recycling contract with its long-term vendor, Vintage Tech in Plainfield, is through April 2017, Olson said, which means the county is in better shape than other counties and local governments without long-term contracts.

Without this legislation, the steep cost of recycling could have shifted to consumers or to local governments that hold collection events, he said.

Seeking a long-term solution

The original 2012 legislation – which established a statewide system for recycling while banning electronics from landfills – is set to sunset and is up for review beginning with a public hearing in Springfield on July 29, said Marta Keane, recycling program specialist and green business relations coordinator for the county’s Resource Recovery & Energy Division.

Based on the public comments received, the Illinois Environmental Protection Agency will compile a report, Keane said. The state agency will look into whether the law is working – including the penalties for manufacturers that fail to reach recycling goals, the weight thresholds and the fairness of the cost split between manufacturers, recycling vendors and other stakeholders.

McAsey said there’s a need for an program overhaul, but it will take some time for the IEPA to collect the necessary data and review the logistics of the program.

“I think the issues that are with us now are going to stay with us,” McAsey said. “We need a system set up in such a way that there’s the capacity to pay for these services.”

In the meantime, this legislation will prevent programs from having to shut down because of a lack of funding, she said.

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