Illinois House passes electronics recycling bill

Kimberly Railey

The Illinois House passed Senate Bill 2106, which mandates manufacturers to safely recycle their discarded electronics, Friday.

The bill overhauls the Electronic Products Recycling and Reuse Act that state Rep. Daniel Biss (D-Evanston), a sponsor of the legislation, said was “just not working.”

“Its ultimate effect will be to increase the amount of electronic waste that’s recycled, therefore decreasing the amount which winds up in the environment,” Biss said.

In effect, it will make Illinois regulations similar to those of other states like Minnesota and Wisconsin, he added.

SB 2106 also provides greater resources to counties to allow them to inform the public of the dangers of not recycling electronics, Biss said. Additionally, the grants will be used to educate consumers on where to bring their old electronics.

Electronics waste – which includes televisions and computers – are full of toxins like mercury and lead.

“It’s important to keep these toxins out of the ground water,” Biss said. “They can cause cancer and neurological disease.”

Elizabeth Porporato of Citizens’ Greener Evanston said the bill is necessary because most people don’t know about these products’ harmful effects. .

“Waste really is a problem – first for the soil and then for the water,” Porporato said. “When we don’t recycle waste in the right way, we’ll have the consequences for thousands of years.”

In the Evanston community, many people remain unaware much of their waste is recyclable and compostable, she said.

“The concept of waste management is developed here, but there’s a problem because if you look at the bins that are dedicated to recyclable items. They are much smaller than the ones dedicated to non-recyclable items,” Porporato said. “It should be completely opposite.”

During the annual Green Cup competition held each winter at Northwestern, Students for Ecological and Environmental Development tries to raise awareness of the benefits of recycling and encourage students to be sustainable, SEED Co-Chair Mike Giannetto said.

“It’s important to conserve our resources,” the McCormick junior said. “No resources are unlimited, and recycling is one way to conserve as much as possible to try and get back those resources.”

Giannetto said the bill is “a step in the right direction,” but students can also conserve resources in other ways, like reducing their use of plastic – a material that’s not fully recyclable.

Biss said though he is confident the bill we be signed into law, he will leave “no stone unturned and no ‘t’ uncrossed” in his attempts.

“Given the governor’s history on environmental issues, I’m not too concerned,” Biss said. “I would just imagine he’d be a strong supporter of this initiative.”

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