Under a new bill pending in the Illinois House of Representatives, owners of computers, cellphones and other electronic devices may face a fee to dispose of the gadgets at recycling facilities.
Residents can currently bring their old pieces of technology to local government-operated recycling and disposal centers, which accept and dispose of them free of charge. This drop-off service is regulated under the state’s Electronic Recycling and Reuse Act.
The Illinois General Assembly, however, is beginning work on legislation that would permit municipalities, townships, and other units of local government to implement a fee on recyclers to help cover disposal costs.
The House Environment Committee will begin hearings on the proposal on Feb. 18 in Springfield.
State Rep. Patrick Verschoore, D-Rock Island, chairman of the House Environment Committee, said a drop-off recycling service has been offered to residents in his area once a year free of charge but he doesn’t see a problem with the proposed fee.
“Residents there can bring in all kinds of old electronic equipment, including stoves and TVs,” Verschoore said. “I don’t see anything wrong with [charging a recycling fee] myself if they make it convenient for you to do that.”
He noted recycling services are dealing with large amounts of equipment, creating issues for the facilities.
“It is becoming a problem how to dispose of it,” Verschoore said.
Currently, the Household Chemicals and Computer Recycling Facility located on Chicago’s north side is the only government-operated electronic device recycling facility in the city and it does not charge a disposal fee.
Representatives from the facility were not available to comment on the proposed legislation.
There are currently two bills before the Illinois Hou
se that address the issue, one sponsored by State Rep. Grant Wehrli, R-Naperville, and another by Democratic State Rep. Emily McAsey. Wehrli expects McAsey’s bill to gain more traction in the Democratic-held legislature.
“So we’re going to amend Emily McAsey’s bill, H.B. 1455, to take in those changes and that’s the one that will be moving forward. So for right now, H.B. 250, isn’t going anywhere,” Wehrli said.
Nevertheless, Wehrli said he hopes to keep appliances like 50-pound television sets out of landfills and he believes the proposed fees would advance that goal.
Kim Biggs, spokeswoman for the Illinois Environmental Protection Agency, said the future of the potentially controversial bill is “unclear,” and the agency has yet to take a position.