Hard-to-Recycle items are things that can be recycled but generally cannot be put in curbside recycling bins. Some of these items pose hazards to sanitation workers, like household hazardous wastes. Others, like latex paint, require special handling and processing to be recycled. Some materials, like polystyrene foam and plastic bags, aren't particularly dangerous but just aren't compatible with recycling facility processes. All told, these are the items we get lots and lots of phone calls about. Unfortunately, some really common household items really can't be recycled - at least not locally - and we have listed those too.
Scroll or use the alphabet links below to jump to specific entries.
Aerosol Products: See our page on Aerosol Recycling.
Empty and depressurized aerosol cans that contained non-hazardous products like food or shaving cream can be put in curbside recycling bins. To depressurize the can, keep holding the trigger down, even after all product is dispensed, until all propellant is released and no more hissing sound is heard.
Additionally, Kane County works with
Flat Can Recycling to recycle almost all aerosol cans, whether part-full or empty, at our Fabyan Parkway
Recycling Center location. Flat Can also has drop-off locations throughout the Chicago area, including the Ace Hardware in Geneva at 617 W State Street at its warehouse location at 732 Hicks Drive, Elburn, 60119. There is a $1 per can cost to recycle through Flat Can to cover disassembly and transport.
Aerosol cans of spray paint, cleaners, and other home chemicals are often accepted through household hazardous waste programs. See our HHW page.
Air Conditioners: Air conditioners are difficult to recycle until the refrigerant they contain is recovered, as required by law. Recovery can be performed by any certified HVAC professional. You can take a decommissioned A/C unit to a metal recycler, but they will likely ask to see certification that the refrigerant chemical was removed.
Elgin Recycling accepts AC units for a $35 per item refrigerant reclamation fee.
American Flags: The United States Flag Code, adopted in 1942, states that "The flag, when it is in such condition that it is no longer a fitting emblem for display, should be destroyed in a dignified way, preferably by burning." However, in 1942 most flags were made from cotton or wool. Today, many flags are made from nylon or polyester, which release toxic fumes when burned. Due to these health concerns, it is generally not recommended for residents to burn flags made of synthetic material at home.
The following locations have drop boxes where flags can be taken for proper disposal:
- Kane County Veterans Assistance Commission, 719 S. Batavia Ave., Geneva, Building A, 1st floor, through the door to the left of the elevator; 630-208-3841
- Ace Hardware, multiple locations - we did a non-comprehensive survey of Ace Hardware locations in Kane County in 2023, and all seem to have flag boxes. You may wish to call ahead to your local store to confirm.
- VFW and American Legion Posts - call your local branch to confirm acceptance and hours.
- Elgin Township, 729 S. McLean Blvd., Elgin, secure outdoor drop-box; 847-741-2045.
Ammunition and Gunpowder: Call your local police department on their non-emergency line to see if they accept unwanted or defective ammo. Local weapon and sporting goods stores may also accept these items. Scrap metal recyclers may accept spent and cleaned brass shells for recycling.
Appliances, small: Small household electronic appliances like vacuums, toasters, blenders, hair dryers, coffee makers, and microwaves can be brought to
Kane County Recycling Centers.
Appliances, large: Large household appliances, sometimes called white goods, that do not contain refrigerant (washing machines, dryers, dishwashers, ovens, water heaters, etc.) are accepted at Kane County's Fabyan Parkway Recycling Center location only (see Freezers and Refrigerators below for these items). Scrap metal recyclers will also often accept these items.
Municipal waste haulers generally accept and collect white goods, but contracts vary considerably regarding when/how often these items are accepted and how much is charged. Find your hauler contact information here to find out about curbing a large appliance.
Art & Craft Supplies: SCARCE in Addison, 630-545-9710, Colors4Change in Naperville, email@example.com, and Greener Good in Palatine, 847-250-7185 firstname.lastname@example.org are suburban non-profits that accept donations of art and craft supplies for reuse.
Bakeware (metal, coated & uncoated): Do not put in curbside cart. Reusable items can be donated to a thrift store. Unusable items can be recycled at
Kane County Recycling Centers (Fabyan Parkway location) or at a scrap metal recycler.
Ballasts (from fluorescent bulb fixtures): Ballasts from residential light fixtures are accepted through household hazardous waste programs. Elgin Recycling also sells kits for ballast disposal.
Batteries (household): Please see our
Batteries page, which describes various battery chemistries (which impacts disposal options) and has an up-to-date map of drop-off locations in the County. Kane County Recycling Centers do not accept loose batteries.
Batteries (wet cell/auto): Vendors of lead-acid batteries are required to accept batteries for recycling with sale of a new battery for a small recycling fee. Many scrap metal recyclers will take car batteries and small sealed lead acid batteries for recycling at no cost. Many will actually pay you for your batteries. See the pink icons on the map on our
Bicycles: There are a few programs that accept year-round bicycle donations for refurbishment and support of charitable causes.
In the tri-cities,
Bikes for Batavia, part of the Batavia Biking Commission, repairs donated bicycles and supplies them to community members in need. For info, email email@example.com.
In Aurora, All Spoked Up bike shop located at 14 W. Downer Place, Suite 12, collects bicycles for
Working Bikes, a Chicago non-profit. Call 630-801-9005 for information about donating a bike. See a map of other Working Bike drop-off sites
Up north, Main Street Bikes at 39 East Main St. in Carpentersville works with the Dundee Boys & Girls Club to refurbish and reuse donated bikes. Please call 847-783-0362 to schedule a donation.
Bicycle Tires and Inner Tubes: Prairie Path Cycles, 160 W. Wilson St., Batavia, has a program for tires and tubes. There is a fee of $2 per tire and $0.25 per inner tube. Call 630-406-9749 for hours and info.
Books: Books are an item where reuse is definitely better than recycling. If you have newer or classic books in good condition that you no longer want, do you have friends that would like to read them? Is there a Little Free Library in your area where you can donate books and/or swap for something you haven't read? Or perhaps your local independent book seller does buy-sell-trade? Does your church or community center have a reading room or library in need of more books? Many non-profit thrift stores also accept book donations. Bottom line: there are lots and lots of places books can go to be enjoyed again!
There are times when a book truly has seen the end of its life. This includes damaged books (major rips, missing pages, extensive mark-ups/notes) and reference or text books that are too out-of-date to be useful, but not old enough to be vintage. For these, Kane County offers recycling at our Recycling Centers. Both hard and soft-cover books are accepted.
Bottle Caps: The current best guidance is to leave screw caps on bottles being thrown in the recycling. This is true even if the cap is obviously a different material than the bottle. Recyclers have found ways to separate these materials during the recycling process. Metal caps from glass bottles can be recycled at our Fabyan Parkway Recycling Center as scrap metal or can be collected in a metal tin and put into curbside bins.
Bubble Wrap: Some shipping and packing stores will reuse clean bubble wrap with no tape on it. Call your local store for details. Bubble wrap, bubble mailers that are all-plastic (no paper outer layer), and air cushions can be recycled with
Plastic Bags and Films.
Building Supplies: Surplus building supplies in new or like-new condition can be donated to Habitat for Humanity ReStores with locations in Aurora and Elgin. See the
Building Material Reuse page for locations & contacts.
Butane Lighters: Lighters can't be recycled due to the fuel residues. If you have a lighter you don't want, make sure it is completely empty of fuel (hold down trigger/igniter until all hissing stops), then throw it out in normal trash. NOTE: if you use a lighter frequently, you can reduce waste by buying a refillable lighter.
Can Carriers: See six-pack holders, below.
Carbon Monoxide (CO) Detectors: Non-recyclable but can be disposed of in the regular trash.
Cardboard: Flattened cardboard and chipboard boxes can be recycled in your single-stream recycling containers. See the
Recycling Guidelines page. Flattened boxes may also be brought to Kane County Recycling Centers.
Carpet & Carpet Padding: There are currently no known recycling options for used/unwanted carpet. Rolls of carpet are collected by waste haulers as trash. Check with your hauler for guidance on roll size and pricing/sticker requirements.
Cars (whole): Cars, even broken down ones that won't start, have a considerable amount of scrap value. You can sell your car directly to a scrapper, but keep in mind that any towing costs will likely be deducted.
If you would like to donate an unwanted car to provide local benefit, Cars of Hope repairs newer/safer donated cars and provides them to deserving families and individuals in the western Chicago suburbs. Cars that have reached the end of their lives are sold for scrap value to fund repairs on the fixable cars. Car recipients are nominated by local social service organizations including Lazarus House, Hesed House and Mutual Ground in Kane County.
Many large national and regional non-profits accept cars as scrap donations too. If there's a cause or organization that's close to your heart, do a web search or call to see if car donation is an option.
Car/auto components: This article describes a number of local options for recycling and safe disposal of a number of auto components, including oil and oil filters and auto glass.
Car seats: Child car seats and boosters can be dropped off year-round at
Municipal Marking Distributers/Flat Can Recycling at 732 Hicks Drive in Elburn, M-F, 7am - 4pm. Please note, there is a $20 fee for recycling a car seat with Flat Can to offset the cost of disassembly and routing the many different material types for proper recycling.
Target & Walmart also occasionally host free drop-off events. Target stores will be collecting car seats April 16-29, 2023.
Car seats can legally be disposed of in the garbage though may require an extra sticker - check with your hauler.
Case wrap: Clear, flexible plastic film used to wrap bulk items like soft drink cases and bulk tissues - can be recycled at store drop-offs. See our Plastic Bags and Film page.
CDs, DVDs, VHS tapes, cassettes, floppy discs and their cases: These are items where reuse is better than recycling. Large thrift stores such as Goodwill and Salvation Army accept commercially recorded CDs, DVDs and VHS tapes in their original packaging and in playable condition for resale.
*NEW in 2023* We are piloting reuse and recycling of these items through our Recycling Centers (Batavia location only). Drop off for free during open hours. No empty cases please! If you would like to digitize your media before parting with it, check with your public library. Many libraries, including Geneva Public Library and the Gail Borden District in Elgin provide digitization equipment for free use.
There are also mail-in recycling options. The company
GreenDisk offers a fairly affordable self-pack and self-mail option for small volumes of material (~25lbs and under) and will accept all forms of media and cases. Both
GreenDisk and TerraCycle offer pre-paid collection box options for larger volumes of material.
Cell phones: Cell phones, especially newer smart phones in excellent or very good condition, have high refurbishment value. Most cell phone stores buy back phones or accept them as trade in for a newer model. Many non-profits and public service organizations also accept donations of cell phones. The Elgin Police Department accepts working phones with chargers to provide low-income senior citizens a way to call 9-1-1 in an emergency. Mutual Ground in Aurora accepts working phones for victims of domestic violence.
Cell phones and accessories (chargers, headphones, etc.) can also be recycled at Kane County Recycling Centers.
Chemicals, cleaners, fertilizers, pesticides: See the
Household Hazardous Waste page.
Christmas Lights: Strings of lights from indoor or outdoor use are accepted at
Kane County Recycling Centers. We are not able to take lit decorations like wreaths, signs, etc.
Christmas Trees: See the
Christmas Tree page.
Cigarette Filters: Cigarette filters are made of several materials and are not recyclable in normal streams. However,
TerraCycle does offer recycling of cigarette filters and other components.
Please, whatever you do, don't throw butts on the ground; they contain plastic components that take a long time to decompose and often end up washed into storm drains, streams and rivers. Please dispose of filters in a designated "butt stop" or in the trash. Need help to quit? See KaneQuits!
Cigarette Lighters: See Butane Lighters above.
Clothing: See the
Textile Recycling page.
Compact Fluorescent Lightbulbs (CFLs): See our Light Bulbs Page. Free drop offs at Lowe's locations in St. Charles and Lake-in-the-Hills (recycling kiosk inside front vestibule). County-sponsored drop-off at the Geneva Ace Hardware, 617 W. State St., Geneva; 630-208-6600.
Computers and computer equipment: Accepted at Kane County Recycling Centers. See the
Electronics page for info on data safety. There is a fee to recycle computer monitors and televisions, which covers the cost of staffing the sites (and is the only fee allowable under state law). The fee is $25 for screens under 21" measured diagonally and $35 for 21" and over. The fee is irrespective of technology type (rear projection, LCD, plasma, etc.) The fee is not applied to screen-attached devices like tablets or laptops.
Confidential Document Shredding: See the
confidential documents page.
Construction & Demolition Debris: See our Construction or Demolition Debris page, updated 2023.
Containers: Many containers including cans, bottles, tubs, jugs & jars made from metal, glass or plastic can be recycled in single-stream recycling totes or dumpsters. Food and beverage cartons can also be recycled. Unfortunately, there are many types of plastic containers that cannot be readily recycled. Examples include flexible pouches, clam-shells, trays and molded forms used to package toys and other items. See the
Recycling Guidelines page for more detail.
Cooking Oil: See the
Household Hazardous Waste drop-off for recycling.
Or check out
this list of permanent drop off locations. Or freeze it and put it in the trash on trash day (for landfill disposal).
For commercial oil, grease and fat management, check out A&P Grease Trappers in Batavia, (630) 231-0905, Aurora Tallow in Warrenville, (630) 393-6806 or Hopkins Grease Company in Lake-in-the-Hills, (847) 458-1010.
Corks: Peaceful Parlour, 212 S. Third St., Geneva accepts natural corks for recycling through ReCork. Synthetic cork is not accepted. There is a small fee to cover shipping - please call for pricing (630) 232-6300.
Couches: Couches and other upholstered furniture in very good condition can be taken to a Habitat for Humanity ReStore locations in Aurora or Elgin. See the
Building Material Reuse page for addresses. Thrift stores may also take these items. You can also try listing them on Craigslist or Facebook Marketplace. Last resort would be to call your
waste hauler to check pricing and availability of bulk item collection.
CPAP Machines: Machines in good working order under 5 years in age can be donated for re-use.
Project C.U.R.E., with a drop-off location in Woodridge, accepts them. Additionally, the
American Sleep Apnea Association accepts donations by mail.
Digital machines that cannot be donated can be recycled through our
Crayons: SCARCE in Addison, 630-545-9710, Colors4Change in Naperville, firstname.lastname@example.org, and Greener Good in Palatine, 847-250-7185 email@example.com are suburban non-profits that accept crayon donations. You can see if your child's school has a collection with Crayon Collection. Finally, The Crayon Initiative and the National Crayon Recycling Program both collect crayons by mail to benefit various causes.
Crutches & Canes: See Mobility Aids, below.
Dehumidifiers: Dehumidifiers are difficult to recycle until the refrigerant they contain is recovered, as required by law. Recovery can be performed by any certified HVAC professional. You can take a decommissioned dehumidifier to a metal recycler, but they will likely ask to see certification that the refrigerant chemical was removed.
Elgin Recycling accepts dehumidifiers for a $35 per item refrigerant reclamation fee.
Document Shredding: See the
Confidential Document page.
DVDs: see CDs above.
E-Cigarettes: see Vaping Devices and Vape Juice, below.
Electronics: Many consumer electronics must be recycled by law! See the
Electronics page for more info. The vast majority of electronics can be brought to
Kane County Recycling Centers.
Exercise Equipment (treadmills, ellipticals, exercise bikes, stair climbers, rowing machines, strength training machines): Disposing of exercise equipment of tricky because it is so bulky, and generally has to be taken apart to be moved and transported.
There is a company in our area that buys and picks up unwanted exercise equipment - CashForTreadmills. The company specializes in equipment repair and parts trade. They are generally looking for newer, light-use machines rather than machines that are burned out from continued use. Their service area for pick up is 35 miles from Downer's Grove, which covers the Fox River Valley of Kane from Montgomery to Elgin. Some central locations, like Elburn and Campton Hills are also in the radius. If you are outside of the pick-up zone, you can still sell parts to the company and get a shipping label, but you will have to disassemble the machine.
Private junk hauling companies will also come and pick up exercise equipment, but it is usually fairly expensive due to the difficulty of moving these items. Here is a list of hauling companies licensed in Kane County.
Disassembling exercise machines is the only way to recycle components. Kane County Recycling Centers will take the electronic and metal components from exercise machines. This includes circuit boards, display faces, power cables, aluminum or steel frames, and motors. Our centers cannot take plastic frames, tread or step belts, elliptical paddles, bike seats, etc.
Whole exercise machines and parts can legally be disposed of as trash as a last resort. Check with your hauler for information about bulk item disposal.
Eye Glasses & Sunglasses: The Batavia Lions Club collects eyeglasses and sunglasses for recycling at the Batavia Public Library; 630-879-1393. You can also check to see if your local Lions Club does the same. Eyeglasses and sunglasses may also be mailed to: The Lions of Illinois Foundation, 700 Peace Road, Suite B, Dekalb, IL 60178. No eyeglass cases please.
Fabrics & Fabric Scraps: Accepted at Kane County Recycling Centers. See also the Textile Recycling page for more info.
Fire extinguishers: See the Household Hazardous Waste page.
Flags: See American Flags above for info on dignified retirement of the national flag. We can take other flags of any size made of any woven material (e.g., decorative yard flags, wall hangings, etc.) at Kane County Recycling Centers under our Textile Recycling program. We cannot accept non-woven plastic flagging.
Fluorescent tube lights: See our Light Bulbs Page for a map of locations. There is a free County-sponsored drop-off for residential-use 4' and 8' tubes at the Geneva Ace Hardware, 617 W. State St., Geneva; 630-208-6600. Batteries + Bulbs locations also accept tubes for recycling for a fee per item. Kane County recycles 4' and 8' fluorescent tubes (residential only, no businesses allowed) at the
annual Extravaganza event.
Foam: See Styrofoam below for hard block foam (marked #6) and food service foam. Also see Packing Peanuts below. Other foams, such as flexible, sponge textured foam used for cushioning and sheets of thin foam used to protect fragile items cannot be recycled, but can be reused. If unwanted, throw these in regular trash.
Food Scraps: See our Curbside Food Scrap Composting and Compost at Work or Home pages.
Freezers: Municipal waste haulers generally accept and collect white goods, but contracts vary considerably regarding when/how often these items are accepted and how much is charged. Find your hauler contact information here to find out about curbing a freezer.
Outside of curbside collection, freezers can difficult to recycle until the refrigerant they contain is recovered, as required by law. Recovery can be performed by any certified HVAC professional. You can take a decommissioned freezer to a metal recycler, but they will likely ask to see certification that the refrigerant chemical was removed. Elgin Recycling will accept in-tact fridges and freezers for a $35 per item refrigerant reclamation fee.
Furniture, patio furniture, appliances and home improvement materials: Consider donating any indoor or outdoor furniture, appliances or home improvement materials in very good condition to Habitat for Humanity ReStore in Aurora or Elgin. See the
Building Material Reuse page for addresses. Thrift stores may also take these items. You can also try listing these items on social media "buy nothing" groups or Facebook Marketplace. Kane County's Fabyan Parkway recycling center and other local metal scrappers can take metal furniture and furniture frames. A last resort would be to call your
waste hauler to have it hauled to the landfill. See this blog post for some ideas about disposal of patio furniture.
Gardening plant pots, trays, tags: Reuse is the best option. If you grow plants from seed, could you use any old flats or pots to start your plants? Can you write on the back of old tags to label your plants? Could you donate to a local garden club, community garden, or to a neighbor who grows plants from seed? Long-term, for avid gardeners, it is probably "greenest" to transition to compostable or reusable silicon flats and pots whenever possible.
Generally, plastic plant pots can't be recycled in curbside bins for a couple of reasons. Many are black, very dark gray or dark green in color, and can't be "seen" by the sorting equipment at recycling facilities. Many are made from polystyrene, a very brittle plastic for which there is no market for recycling. If you happen to have lighter color pots that are marked with #5 (polypropylene), they can be put in curbside recycling as long as they are empty and clean. They would count as "tubs" - see containers above.
Finally, in the past, Lowes, Home Depot and various local garden centers have offered recycling or reuse exchanges for plant pots, but it isn't very consistent. Give your favorite store a call to see if they have any programs.
If all else fails, these items should be put in the trash.
Gasoline: See the
Household Hazardous Waste page.
Gasoline and other liquid fuel containers (empty): Let the containers sit with the lids off for at least 3 days so that vapors dissipate. Place the empty, aired out containers in household trash. Do not put in curbside recycling due to contamination concerns.
Glass: Glass containers like bottles & jars can be recycled in your single-stream recycling containers. See the
Recycling Guidelines page. Glass windows or other glass objects, if broken, should be put in trash. Also see "Windows" below.
Gym Equipment: See Exercise Equipment above.
Hangers (clothes): Kane County's Fabyan Parkway Recycling Center can take metal wire hangers with all paper, foam, etc. removed, as will commercial metal scrappers. We cannot take plastic or mixed-material hangers. Sometimes, if a hanger has a metal hook and plastic or wooden arms, the metal hook can be screwed or pulled off. Some dry cleaning businesses take hangers, as do many non-profit clothes closets. Check locally. If all else fails, put in the trash. Please do not put any clothes hangers in your curbside recycling cart!
Flat Can Recycling/Municipal Marking Distributors now accept old and damaged hard hats for recycling at no charge. Drop of M-F, 7am - 4pm at 732 Hicks Dr., Elburn, 60119.
Hardware (nuts, bolts, screws, hooks, nails, washers, hinges, handles, etc.): If in good shape, hardware can be donated to Habitat for Humanity ReStore locations in Elgin and Aurora for reuse. They can also be recycled at Kane County's Fabyan Recycling Center Location or with a commercial metal scrapper.
Hazardous Waste: See the
Household Hazardous Waste page.
Hearing aids: The Batavia Lions Club collects hearing aids for donation to low -income recipients at the Batavia Public Library; 630-879-1393. You can also check to see if your local Lions Club does the same. Hearing aids may also be mailed to: The Lions of Illinois Foundation, 700 Peace Road, Suite B, Dekalb, IL 60178.
Helium tanks: Any helium tank marked as refillable should be returned to the original vendor. Tanks marked as non-refillable can be recycled as scrap metal at the Fabyan Kane County Recycling Center (or at private metal scrapping facilities) IF AND ONLY IF they are prepared carefully following the steps demonstrated in
Holiday Lights: Accepted at Kane County Recycling Centers.
Incandescent Light Bulbs: These cannot be recycled and contain no hazardous components. They should be put in regular trash. See our Light Bulbs page for more information on light bulb types. Most other light bulb types are considered more environmentally friendly than incandescent bulbs due to being more energy efficient.
Inhalers (medical): At the time of writing (October 2022), Walgreens is the only pharmacy chain that accepts inhalers through it's free store take-back kiosks. The County's Batavia and Aurora Recycling Centers also accept inhalers as aerosol items for a fee of $1 each. Inhalers can also be disposed of through household hazardous waste programs.
Ink Cartridges: Target stores have a recycling bin that accepts small printer ink cartridges from home printers. The bins are usually labeled as accepting cartridges, cell phones and MP3 players. See also "Printer cartridges" below.
Jewel (CD) cases: See CDs above.
Junk Mail: Can be placed in curbside recycling. See info on stopping junk mail on the
Junk Mail page.
Landscape Waste: See the
Landscape Waste page.
Latex Paint: See the
Lawn Mower: Electric mowers (battery or plug-in) are accepted at Kane County Recycling Centers. Gas mowers are accepted at the Fabyan location only but must be drained of all gasoline and other fluids. Fuel and lubricant should be disposed of as
household hazardous waste. Most metal recyclers will also take gas powered mowers, but again, they must be drained of fuel.
LED Light Bulbs: LED light bulbs may be recycled for free at Geneva Ace Hardware (617 W. State St., Geneva; 630-208-6600). They can also be recycled at Batteries + Bulbs locations for a fee per item. See our Light Bulbs page for a map of locations.
Light Bulbs: See Compact Fluorescent Bulbs, Fluorescent Tubes, Incandescent Bulbs, and LED Bulbs above. See also our Light Bulbs page.
Lighter Fluid: Lighter fluid (butane) is a household hazardous waste. It can be disposed of through a
HHW program. Empty and part-full pressurized butane containers can also be recycled at our Fabyan recycling center, and at
Flat Can Recycling at 732 Hicks Dr., Elburn for a fee of $1 per can.
Lighters: See Butane Lighters above.
Magazines: Can be recycled in curbside carts or recycling dumpsters. Plastic sleeves should be removed. Also accepted at Kane County Recycling Centers.
Mailers and Shipping Supplies: Mailer envelopes that are all one material (i.e. all paper or all plastic) can be recycled. Paper mailers can go into curbside bins. Plastic envelopes, bubble mailers, and air cushions can be recycled with
Plastic Bags (but NOT in curbside bins). Mailers of mixed materials (paper outside with bubble wrap inside) cannot be recycled and should be avoided.
Mattresses: Always ask the store where you buy your new mattress if they will take your old one and recycle it when the new one is delivered.
If a mattress
is reusable, the Chicago Furniture Bank will take it as a donation. This non-profit organization collects furniture and provides it to Chicagoans in need at no cost to recipients. They have a
pick up service for a scalable monetary donation depending on the amount of material being collected.
If beyond use, Verlo Mattress locations will take mattresses for recycling as part of their long-standing recycling program. Call for details: West Dundee 847-846-8800; Crystal Lake 815-455-2570; Naperville 630-961-9191.
There are also new online companies that provide online quotes and schedule mattress recycling.
Bedr World will pick up and recycle mattresses, box springs, bed frames, bunk beds, futons, hospital beds, soft bedding and related accessories.
Mattress Disposal Plus takes a similar suite of items.
As a last resort, call your waste hauler to enquire about disposal of your mattress through bulk item trash pick-up. Mattresses can also be dropped off for disposal at Aurora Recycling Center, 213 Mettel Road, Aurora, 60505 for a fee of $20.
Medical equipment: Project C.U.R.E. in Woodridge take medical supplies for sorting and redistribution in areas of need. Email firstname.lastname@example.org or contact Operations Director, Daniel Pyne at 312-813-8873 with questions.
Organizations like hospitals can donate medical equipment through Hospital Sisters Mission Outreach at mission-outreach.org
See also this local article on donation.
Medications: See the
Medication page and the Household Hazardous Waste page
Mercury Thermostats: See the
Household Hazardous Waste page.
Metal: Metal scraps and items made predominantly from metal (iron, steel, aluminum, brass, etc.) are accepted at Kane County's Fabyan Recycling Center location. Note that the County does not pay for scrap, while many private scrap recyclers do. See the
Scrap Metal Recycling list.
Microwaves: Accepted at Kane County Recycling Centers. They can also usually be recycled through any metal scrapper.
Mobility Aids (crutches, canes, walkers, wheelchairs) - Project C.U.R.E., with a drop-off location in Woodridge, accepts donations of crutches, canes, walkers and wheelchairs. Unwanted mobility aids in good condition can also be sold for reuse on various online market places. Finally, items that are primarily aluminum or steel can be taken to any scrap metal recycler, including Kane County's Fabyan Parkway Recycling Center. We cannot accept wooden crutches or canes.
Motor Oil: See our
Motor Oil page and the Household Hazardous Waste page.
Mower: See Lawn Mower above.
Musical Instruments: There is a very active resale market for most musical instruments in excellent/very good condition. Check out your local music store! Area charities such as those listed below accept most musical instruments for refurbishment and reuse. Very large instruments like pianos, organs, drum kits, harps, etc. can be more challenging to donate.
Needles: See the
Office supplies: SCARCE in Addison, 630-545-9710 and Greener Good in Palatine, 847-250-7185; email@example.com are suburban non-profits that accept donations of office supplies for reuse.
Oil: See the
Motor Oil page or Cooking Oil above.
Oxygen tanks: By far the best advice for recycling any pressurized gas tank is to ask the gas supplier to take the old tank when a new one is delivered. Scrap metal recyclers may take empty and depressurized tanks.
Packing peanuts: Bagged packing peanuts are accepted for recycling at Chicago Logistics Service, *new location* 701 Wesemann Drive, West Dundee. Drop off between 9am and 4pm at door 109 behind the building at the loading dock.
Additionally, some shipping and packing stores may reuse clean, bagged and unmixed foam peanuts. Call your local shipping store to ask.
Paint: See our Paint page for discussion of paint types and disposal implications. Oil-based paint is HHW, see the
Household Hazardous Waste page. Latex paint is not hazardous and many recycling options exist.
Pallets: The Kane County Recycling Center Fabyan Pkwy. location will accept wooden and plastic pallets in good condition for reuse. There are also multiple pallet vendors and recyclers in the area, some of which will pick up and/or pay for used pallets, though they are usually interested in quantities. Examples include:
Paper: Mixed paper can be recycled in single-stream recycling containers and dumpsters. See the
Recycling Guidelines page. It can also be dropped off at Kane County
Pharmaceuticals: See the Medication page.
Phones: Both land-line and cell phone equipment are accepted at Kane County Recycling Centers.
Phone books: These can be recycled in single-stream recycling containers and dumpsters or brought to Kane County Recycling Centers. To opt out of receiving phone books, see our
Junk mail page.
Photographs: If you're feeling artsy, maybe old photos could be repurposed into a collage. Otherwise, photographs developed or printed onto photo paper and polaroid pictures cannot be recycled and should be placed in trash. Photographs printed onto normal paper or cardstock can be recycled in curbside bins with other mixed paper.
Pill bottles: Before recycling, think of whether you can reuse to store beads, paperclips, or other small things. Empty pill bottles can go in curbside recycling with lids and labels on, though you may wish to black out your personal info on prescription labels. Additionally, the religious charitable organization
Matthew 25: Ministries of Ohio has a mail-in program for reuse and recycling of empty, clean pill bottles.
Plastic grocery bags and plastic film: Reduce as much as possible by using reusable shopping bags. Reuse to collect pet waste, line small garbage pales, store various items, etc. Recycling is via in-store drop offs only - do not put in curbside recycling carts or recycling dumpsters. See the
Plastic Bag page for more info.
Prescriptions: See the
Printer Cartridges (ink and toner): When you buy ink or toner, check the packaging; some manufacturers provide a pre-paid shipping label to ship the empty item back. If you lose the label or it didn't come with one, check the manufacturer website - you might be able to print one for free. Target stores have a recycling bin (usually near the entrance or customer service) that accepts small home printer ink cartridges, but not toner. Additionally many big office supply stores like
Office Depot accept ink and toner cartridges for recycling, though they may ask you to sign up for a free rewards program in order to track your recycling (there is usually a monthly quantity limit).
Additionally, the company GreenDisk offers a fairly affordable self-pack and self-mail option for small volumes of material (~25lbs and under). Both GreenDisk and TerraCycle offer pre-paid collection box options for larger volumes of material.
Propane Tanks: Small camp-sized propane cylinders are accepted at Kane County's Fabyan Parkway Recycling Center location for $3.50 per item. 5 gallon tanks in good working order can usually be exchanged at hardware stores or other propane vendors. Broken or damaged tanks should be disposed of as
Household Hazardous Waste. Please never put a propane tank in your household trash or recycling bins.
Railroad Ties: Railroad ties are best handled differently than other wood due to their creosote coating. TiEnergy, 847-426-6354, is a local company that specializes in railroad tie management. Other companies on our Construction or Demolition Debris page that handle General CDD may also accept ties.
Records (vinyl): If you have unwanted records in excellent or very good condition, check out your local record store for buy-sell-trade. Independent record stores in Kane County from South to North include:
- Superjumbo Records and Collectables, 102 E. Galena Blvd., Aurora, 630-312-0559
- Kiss the Sky, 180 1st St., Batavia, 630-406-0086
- Geneva Antique Market, 227 S. 3rd St., #2, Geneva, 630-208-1150 (specifically interested in recordings 25 years or older)
- Vinyl & Vintage, 123 N. Main St., Elburn, 630-542-8876
- Hoarders Trading Post, 1301 E. Main St., St. Charles, 630-549-0177
- Rediscover Records, 9 S. Spring St., Elgin, 847-961-8445
Vinyl albums are also accepted at Kane County's Fabyan Parkway Recycling Center
location. Badly damaged records should be thrown in regular trash - there aren't really any recycling options. Cardboard slip covers can be recycled curbside.
Refrigerators (inc. mini-fridges, wine chillers, etc.): Municipal waste haulers generally accept and collect white goods, but contracts vary considerably regarding when/how often these items are accepted and how much is charged. Find your hauler contact information here to find out about curbing a refrigerator.
Outside of curbside collection, fridges can difficult to recycle until the refrigerant they contain is recovered, as required by law. Recovery can be performed by any certified HVAC professional. You can take a decommissioned fridge to a metal recycler, but they will likely ask to see certification that the refrigerant chemical was removed. Elgin Recycling will accept in-tact fridges and freezers for a $35 per item refrigerant reclamation fee.
Refrigerator Water Filters: See water filters, below
Sandwich and Snack Bags: There are lots of reusable alternatives to single-use snack bags now. Heck, you might be able to score one if you drop by Kane County's table at a community event (see the home page for announcements). Recycle at store drop-offs. See our Plastic Bags and Film page.
Scrap Metal: Both ferrous metals (iron, steel) and non-ferrous metals (aluminum, copper, bronze, tin, zinc) are very recyclable and generally valuable to recycle. We accept mixed scrap metal at Kane County's Fabyan Parkway Recycling Center location. The proceeds of the metal sales support the Center and our partner e-Works' non-profit mission to train and provide employment to developmentally disabled youth and adults. There are many for-profit recyclers in the area that will pay for scrap metal by weight. See the Scrap Metal Recycling list.
Sharps: See the
Shingles (Roofing): See our Construction or Demolition Debris page.
Shoes: Paired shoes (in wearable or unwearable condition) can be brought to the Kane County
Recycling Centers. Wearable shoes will be resold through ReWearAble to benefit their non-profit mission. Unwearable shoes are recycled. Kane County-based non-profit Jolly Old Soles also collects shoes for local reuse. Call 630-456-2348 to arrange a donation.
Shredded paper: Paper that has *already been shredded* should not be placed in your curbside recycling cart. Even if it's contained in a paper bag when you put it out, it won't be contained by the time it arrives at a recycling facility where it becomes a nuisance. We do accept shredded paper at Kane County Recycling Centers. It should be contained in paper bags (grocery bags and yard waste bags work well) and stapled closed. We do not offer shredding services through our Recycling Centers, but do have occasional shredding events.
Six-pack holders: Especially in the beer world, many breweries have switched from the traditional six pack rings that earned a bad reputation for tangling wildlife to can carriers, which are often marked as "recyclable." Unfortunately, the recyclability of these items has been overstated because they can't be recycled curbside. There are local breweries and distributers working to return them for reuse. Locally, can carriers can be dropped off for reuse at Heartland Beverage, 750 N. 17th St., St. Charles, 312-683-6962, Riverlands Brewing Company, 1860 Dean St. Unit A, St. Charles, or the Kane County Recycling Office, 719 S. Batavia Ave., Geneva, Building A, 1st Floor, drop box outside Room 109.
The traditional six pack rings are only recyclable via free mail away, but we will collect those too at the Kane County Recycling Office: 719 S. Batavia Ave., Geneva, Building A, 1st Floor, drop box outside Room 109 (we think these are too light-weight to be collected at our current Recycling Centers without causing a litter problem).
Smoke detectors: These are not banned from the landfill, so they can be placed in regular trash. Or you can return used smoke alarms to the supplier - address is usually listed in the product warranty or user's manual.
Or use one of these mail in programs:
Curie Environmental Services (NM), 505-888-9392
EZ on the Earth (IN), 855-327-8455
First Alert Corp (IL), 630-851-7330
Solar panels: This is a fairly new field of recycling so there are not a lot of options available yet per this Sept. 2019 industry article. Companies that provide solar panel recycling in the Midwest include Interco, 877-200-0840 and Cascade Eco Minerals, 541-516-1100.
Sports/performance nutrition product wrappers: Folks who have ever trained for a marathon or who take long bike rides are likely familiar with the various gels, bars and chews that are used to help athletes stay at the top of their game. Prairie Path Cycles now has a free drop off program for empty wrappers. Drop off at 160 W. Wilson St., Batavia or call 630-406-9749 for hours and info.
Spray Paint: See Aerosol Products, above.
Styrofoam (expanded polystyrene): Free drop off in the following locations -
- Dart Container Corp, 310 Evergreen Dr., North Aurora, 630-896-4631. Drive up recycling kiosk is open 24/7. Accepts: block foam #6, clean food containers. NO straws, cup lids, paper, or packing peanuts.
- Chicago Logistic Service, *new location* 701 Wesemann Drive, West Dundee, 847-429-1926. Drop off point is open 9am - 4pm and is through door 109 behind the building at the loading dock. Accepts: block foam #6, clean food containers, packing peanuts & bubble wrap.
- Flat Can Recycling/Municipal Marking Distributors, 732 Hicks Dr., Elburn, 60119, M-F, 7am - 4pm. Accepts: block foam #6, clean food containers. NO straws, cup lids, paper, or packing peanuts.
Sump Pumps: For sump pump battery back ups, see Batteries (wet cell/auto), above. Metal pump motors and any metal piping can be recycled as scrap metal at Kane County's Fabyan Parkway Recycling Center location or any private scrap metal recycler.
Syringes: See the
Televisions: Check to see with your waste hauler what e-waste services are included for your municipality. Some contracts include occasional free pick up for all CERA-covered items, including TVs/monitors.
All types of televisions are accepted at Kane County Recycling Centers. There is a fee to recycle televisions and computer monitors through our program. The fee is retained by our site partner, the non-profit eWorks, and covers the cost of staffing the centers. The fee is $25 for screens under 21" measured diagonally and $35 for 21" and over. The fee is the same for all TV technology types (rear projection, LCD, plasma, etc.). Fees can be paid on site with cash or cards.
Textiles (sheets, towels, blankets, etc.): See the
Textile Recycling page.
Thermostats: Older thermostats (installed before 2005) likely contain a small amount of mercury, which is an acute environmental and human health hazard. Any contractor installing a new thermostat or conducting demolition must, by law, remove any mercury-containing thermostat being replaced and recycle it. Homeowners in possession of an old mercury thermostat can use HHW programs or use the Thermostat Recycling Corporation search feature to find a local drop-off.
Tires: See the
Toilets: If under 5 years old and reusable, can be donated to Habitat for Humanity ReStore in Aurora or Elgin (See the Building Material Reuse page for addresses). If old or broken, toilets should be put out with trash. Contact your
Waste & Recycling Hauler for cost, and please separate the bowl and cistern so that it is in two pieces for pick-up.
Treadmills: See Exercise Equipment above.
Trophies & Medals: If metal components of unwanted trophies or medals can be removed, they can be recycled at Kane County's Fabyan Parkway Recycling Center location or any private scrap metal recycler. There are also mail-in programs for recycling trophies and medals:
- Total Awards and Promotions Trophy Recycling Program - the non-profit arm of this trophy manufacturer based in Madison, WI refurbishes old trophies in good condition and donates them to non-profit organizations. Cost is $40 per program use for up to 25 trophies + cost of shipping.
- Lamb Awards and Engraving - must email firstname.lastname@example.org for info.
- Sports Medal Recycling - free, but donor pays shipping. Massachusetts-based company recycles medals from sporting and academic events that have a metal component.
- Medals4Mettel - an Indianapolis based group that accepts donations of earned endurance event medals (marathon, half-marathon, triathlon) and gives them to people fighting serious illness.
TVs: See Televisions, above.
Vaping Devices and Vape Juice: There are no known public programs for recycling of whole vape devices outside of occasional U.S. DEA Drug Takeback Days. Check with retailers and manufacturers for drop-off or mail-in programs.
If a vaping device is disassembled, the battery can be recycled like any other battery (see our Batteries page). Vials of liquid juice or sponge-like pods, if removed from devices, can be disposed of through household hazardous waste programs. Chargers, wires and circuits removed from devices can be recycled at Kane County Recycling Centers (whole devices and vape juice not accepted).
As a last resort, whole vape devices can legally be thrown in household trash. They should never be littered or put in recycling bins. Need help to quit? Find resources at Kane Quits!
Video (VHS) Tapes, Cassettes and their cases: See CDs above.
Walkers & Wheelchairs: See mobility aids, above.
Water Filters: There generally are not local recycling programs for the carbon-material water filters used in refrigerators and water pitchers. Try contacting the manufacturer of the appliance and/or filter or searching their website for recycling options.
RecycleWaterFilters.com has a relatively affordable pre-paid self-pack-and-mail program for filters of any brand. These items should not go into curbside recycling bins, but can be placed in regular trash.
Windows: If new, complete w/ unbroken, insulated glass (or under 5 years), can be donated to Habitat for Humanity ReStore in Aurora or Elgin (See the Building Material Reuse page for addresses). If old or broken, consider having the window repaired, which can be a cost-effective alternative to replacement. Otherwise, windows should be disposed as trash. Contact your
Waste & Recycling Hauler for cost, and please duct tape an X on both sides of glass for pick-up to prevent shattering.
X-rays: Ask your doctor's office or local hospital radiography department if they can help you dispose of these. Otherwise, SCARCE in Addison accepts radiographic films. B.W. Recycling, Inc. will pick up large quantities and accepts films by mail.
Yard waste: See our Landscape Waste page.
Zip-top bags: There are lots of reusable alternatives to single-use resealable bags now. Heck, you might be able to score one if you drop by Kane County's table at a community event (see the home page for announcements). Recycle clean zip-top bags at store drop-offs. See our Plastic Bags and Film page for more info.