Daily Chronicle

Carlin: Did you know? What goes where with your recycling

Editor’s note: This is the February installment of a monthly column written by the city of DeKalb’s Citizens Environmental Commission that focuses on increased awareness of issues such as promoting projects and ordinance changes involved in recycling, reducing energy consumption and planting native habitat.

General recycling guidelines:

Effective recycling involves knowing what to include and exclude. Always recycle plastic bottles and containers, food and drink cans and cartons, glass bottles and containers, paper products and flattened cardboard. Avoid including items like Styrofoam, paper towels, tissues, plates and cups in recycling bins. Plastic lids, cups, straws, fast food containers, utensils and plates cannot be recycled either.

Remember to keep food and liquids out of recycling. Plastic wrappers and snack bags can’t go in curbside recycling but can be handled through Teracycle. Soft plastics, such as plastic bags and films, can be recycled at designated bins in grocery stores like Hy-Vee, Jewel, Schnucks, Target and Walmart.

Composting Options:

Composting offers an eco-friendly solution for managing food waste, which makes up a third of residential waste. Pile composts are affordable and ideal for homeowners, requiring minimal materials, like wood pallets. Tumbler composts are easier to maintain and suitable for renters with access to a balcony or porch. Machine composters are convenient and require minimal effort, fitting neatly on kitchen countertops. Alternatively, platforms like Waste Share facilitate connections between those with compost and those in need.

Disposal of miscellaneous items:

Certain items pose challenges for disposal, but resources like the DeKalb County Health Department can provide guidance. Visit our website for an A-Z Recycling guide covering common disposal items or call. Common inquiries include sharps, medication, electronics, tires, mattresses, motor oil, fire extinguishers, appliances and holiday lights. Sharps can be taken to the Health Department, while medication can be dropped off at pharmacies or police stations. Most electronics can be recycled for free during collection days. Tire disposal typically involves returning them to the retailer. Mattress recycling options are limited, curbside trash pickup is the best option. Motor oil can be disposed of at retail locations, and fire extinguishers can be returned to manufacturers or taken to household hazardous waste facilities. Appliances can be recycled through local metal scrappers, scheduled through curbside pickup services, or through some appliance dealers. Holiday lights are taken seasonally by the health department.

Many cleaning or car chemicals are considered hazardous and should be disposed of through a hazardous waste drop off site, collection day, or scheduled pickup with your waste hauler.

Recycling events and resources:

The Health Department hosts yearly electronics, household hazardous waste, and holiday lights collections. Electronics collection dates are scheduled for the year, dates are March 30, June 22 and Sept. 28. Events go from 9 a.m. to noon at the DeKalb Taylor Municipal Airport, 2200 Pleasant St., DeKalb. The household hazardous waste collection date is in the scheduling process. Holiday lights collections typically run from Nov. 14 to Jan. 31 annually.

The Health Department also provides recycling drop off locations. One is at the DeKalb County Health Department, 2550 N. Annie Glidden Road, and another at 115 Simons Ave. A third is located 220 E. Railroad Ave. in Genoa and a fourth at 2990 Council Road in Somonauk.

For more information, please contact the Solid Waste Associate at the Health Department at 815-748-2408.

  • James Carlin is the solid waste associate and environmental health practitioner at the DeKalb County Health Department.