County sees e-waste recycling boom

More than a half-million pounds of electronics have been dropped off since last year

Note to readers: This story has been changed to correctly identify Jan Tures, finance office manager at the City of Genoa.

Thousands of pounds of waste have been recycled by county residents since last March, but it’s not the traditionally gross, grimy trash.

More than a half-million pounds of electronics have been dropped off at sites in DeKalb, Sycamore and Genoa, including computers, TVs, printers, cellphones, batteries and video games since last year. That’s when the county hired New Life Electronics Recycling in Oswego to replace a former contract with Chicago-based Environmentally Responsible Company that left the county unsatisfied.

“This company provided us with statistics that we never had before,” said Fred Busse, director of Public Works in Sycamore. “We went to this company because the reliability of the last company was not as desirable.”

Once the hardware is separated, dismantled and then salvaged, it’s a boon for “precious matters,” such as plastic, copper, aluminum, glass and even lead, New Life President Matt Gatz said.

“We dismantle our electronics on site as far as we can,” he said.

DeKalb received the largest amount of electronic waste during the year-long period, totaling 234,591 pounds,and saw an increase in recycled TVs after the first of the year.

“After Christmas, you see TV weights go up considerably,” said Mark Espy, DeKalb’s assistant director of Public Works. “Everyone gets new TVs.”

Waste Management won’t pick up electronic waste, or e-waste – they’ll just leave it sitting on the curb. However, as it was with ERC, the partnership with New Life established e-waste collection spots that rotate between DeKalb, Genoa, Sandwich, Sycamore and Waterman.

“We worked with the county and got everything up and running, then provided the sites for New Life to give residents a place to drop off their old [electronics],” Espy said.

Sycamore has received 160,193 pounds of recycled e-waste since last year, 36,584 pounds of which were donated since the beginning of the year.

“I do know some old TV sets, especially that Sony made, that were 30-inchers and weighed a lot,” Busse said.

The e-waste drop-off points are a result of a 2012 state law that forbade all electronics from being dumped into landfills. However, it did result in some problems.

“We started noticing large volumes of TVs sitting curbside,” Espy said. “This law created that problem.”

Genoa has collected 124,222 since last March.

“It’s pretty amazing,” said Jan Tures, finance office manager at the City of Genoa. “It’s nice that they’re being recycled, that’s for sure.”