In today's "digital age" Americans are using more electronics than ever before. These items often contain heavy metals and rare earth minerals that are hazardous in landfills. However, these metals are valuable and can be recycled. To address this, the Illinois legislature passed the Consumer Electronics Recycling Act (CERA) in 2017, which bans certain electronics from landfills and requires local governments to provide venues for residents to recycle these products. CERA applies to computers (laptop or desktop), computer monitors (all types), computer keyboards & mice, televisions (all types), fax machines, printers, scanners, VCRs, disc players, portable music players, video game consoles, cable boxes, satellite receivers, digital converter boxes, and small scale (non-commercial) servers.
CERA covers many electronics used in home offices and for home entertainment
While CERA was an important step forward for Illinois, there are many home electronics that it does not cover, including kitchen electrics, cell phones, cameras, and the assortment of chargers, cables, wires and adaptors that tend to accumulate in many households. These products all contain metal components that can be stripped and recycled. Kane County and its partner, eWorks Electronic Services, accept an expanded menu of electronics at our Recycling Centers to reduce the amount of reusable material going to landfills.
Kane County accepts many additional home electronics at our Recycling Centers, including those pictured.
Frequently Asked Questions
Are electronics collected by Kane County ever reused or resold? Yes, a very small percentage of the items brought to eWorks are selected for refurbishment. These include newer laptops, tablets, video game systems and smart phones. If deemed repairable, all data will be completely erased (see next question), the repairs made, and the items donated or sold with profits supporting eWorks' non-profit mission. We encourage Kane County residents to explore repair options for newer/high-value items themselves before deciding to buy new. We can do a lot to combat eWaste problems by extending the working life of our gadgets.
If I drop off a computer or hard drive, how do you ensure that my personal data is safe? Kane County contracts with eWorks Electronic Services, Inc. located in Elk Grove Village. EWorks is R2 (Responsible Recycling) certified, which means they must meet rigorous standards for the handling of all data-containing devices. Data containing devices are kept locked up at the Recycling Centers when stored overnight. Once they are transported to eWorks in Elk Grove, the devices are separated into two streams - those intended for resale (newer devices only) and those intended for recycling. All devices and components routed for recycling have their hard drives or data cards shredded. Devices selected for resale are segregated carefully at eWorks and remain in locked storage at all times. Trained technicians implement BLANCO data erasure software and the Department of Defense Standard 7-pass kill disk to completely erase existing data prior to resale.
What happens to electronics brought to Kane County that are not going to be refurbished? eWorks dissembles these items. This work is often done by students with learning disabilities who attend eWorks programs where they are trained to conduct tasks that fit their particular interests, skills and needs. eWorks also offers fair-wage employment to some of its program graduates. Dissembled components are sorted by type (e.g., circuit boards, copper wire, stainless steel casing, batteries, data containing components etc.) These sorted components are then sold as commodities with profits supporting eWorks' non-profit mission.
Are there any home electronics that Kane County doesn't take? Yes, there are a few. The first category of things we can't take is where the size/weight of the item is very large compared to the recyclable pieces. Examples of these are pieces of exercise equipment, plastic electric fans (metal is okay), ceiling fans, wood cabinet speakers, and toys with electronic components. If owners separate the electronic components from these items, we can accept those components. The second category is items containing certain hazardous substances. We cannot take any items with coolant (e.g. fridges, freezers, dehumidifiers, water coolers, air conditioners), home thermostats, or smoke and carbon monoxide detectors, or lawn equipment containing any fuel. We also can't take loose batteries (other than lithium ion types from laptops, phones, etc.), any light bulbs, or any pieces of media like CDs, DVDs, VHS tapes, floppy disks, etc.
Are there local options outside of the County program for donating ? Yes! We especially encourage folks to check out options to donate dated but working electronics for reuse.
Goodwill Industries accepts: toys, small power tools, most home electronics (rear projection TVs and monitors not accepted) (all items should be clean and in working condition - otherwise recycle) Habitat for Humanity ReStore accepts: TVs over 40" and less than 10 years old, counter-top microwaves, table and floor lamps, decorative lighting, electric space heaters, modern appliances, light fixtures and ceiling fans, power tools (all items should be clean and in working condition - otherwise recycle; also, it is recommended to check with your local store to confirm item acceptance as their needs can vary). Salvation Army accepts: Working electronics, home electrics and appliances. Check with your waste hauler and your municipality for special pick-up or drop off days. Sometimes these are done at no cost to residents, even for large items like TVs and monitors. Best Buy has an electronics recycling program (items do not need to have been purchased at Best Buy; there is a fee for TVs and monitors, and a quantity limit per visit)