Illinois Decides Landfilling an OK Option for “Recycling”
The State of Illinois is leading what is beginning to look like a possible trend to reverse 25 years of progress in responsibly managing electronic waste.
On July 10th, Governor Rauner signed HB1455 into law amending Illinois’ Electronic Product Reuse & Recycling Act. The amendment allows landfilling of leaded CRT glass from old TVs and monitors that is collected under the recycling act.
You read that right. So Illinois residents who go through the trouble to haul their 50++ pound old TVs to a “recycling” program, may really by ‘donating’ the valuable components while the hazardous stuff that they hoped would also be recovered winds up in a landfill after all.
HB1455 is merely the 1st step in the unraveling e-waste progress in Illinois.
Next Wednesday, July 29th, the ILEPA will hold a public hearing to discuss, among other things, rescinding the landfill ban on e-waste. California is loosening their restrictions on landfilling CRT glass and now North Carolina is considering rescinding their entire electronics take-back law.
Why is this happening?
Mismanagement of CRTs has hit a fever pitch with regular news of enormous CRT stockpiles discovered and often abandoned by e-recyclers. Inadequate oversight of state take-back programs merely fuels these bad practices. Legislators are told that these problems are the result of severely constricted recycling markets for CRT glass. Very few new CRTs are being manufactured worldwide, so were can this glass possibly go??
The answer is: plenty of places. Responsible recycling might cost slightly more than landfilling, but the benefits of recovering resources and protecting the environment far outshine disposal. We don’t compromise how we manage other hazardous wastes simply due to cost of proper management. Why would we do it with hazardous e-waste?
e-Recyclers Fight Back
On July 20th, 13 electronics recyclers servicing the Illinois market sent a letter to the ILEPA drawing attention to evidence that there is significant excess capacity for recycling CRTs. This flies in the face of everything that regulators and legislators have heard about the severe decline of options for recycling CRT glass.
For a number of reasons, electronics recycling is an extremely challenging business. The unraveling of progress in responsible e-waste management is, in large part, due the lack of advocacy and an unified industry voice. These 13 companies working to educate regulators in Illinois are taking first critical step to ensure the longevity of responsible management of obsolete electronics.