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Don’t Just Toss Your Old Electronics After Opening Christmas Gifts

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Boxes filled with old TV monitors, computer equipment, and other electronics to be recycled. (Credit: CBS)

Boxes filled with old TV monitors, computer equipment, and other electronics to be recycled. (Credit: CBS)

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CHICAGO (CBS) – If you got a new TV, computer or laptop for Christmas, a new ban that takes effect next week in Illinois could affect you.

CBS 2’s Susan Carlson explains that the new rules impact what you can put out in the garbage.

Beginning January 1, it will be against the law in Illinois to throw out most electronic gadgets and trash collectors will no longer be able to pick up 17 specific devices from people’s homes and dump them in landfills, or they face thousands of dollars in fines.

Inside many of those devices, especially computer monitors, is a lot of hazardous material including lead and mercury. If it winds up in a landfill, it could pollute our air and water.

The new law won’t only benefit the environment, it’ll boost profits for recyclers, like Sims Recycling Solutions in West Chicago.

Sims Commercial Director Sean Magann says 40 million pounds a year are processed at the site.

Sims refurbishes about 10 percent of that. The rest is put through a process that first removes the hazardous materials and then separates out valuable materials like aluminum, steel and copper, which Sims resells.

From circuit boards, recyclers can get even more precious metals like gold.

“Even though, by volume, it’s not a big part of the computer itself, it’s still probably the most valuable commodity in a computer,” Magann said.

For example, a box of circuit boards could contain up to 2 ounces of gold, worth more than $3,000.

The biggest task now is for recyclers and communities to educate consumers about the new rules.

The recycling drop-off site in Naperville is open two days a week. It’s a pilot program that runs through April and is proving successful so far.

Beth Lang is the Strategic Services Manager for Naperville’s Department of Public Works. She says the agency usually collects about 6,500 pounds electronics per week, but that has risen to 10,000 pounds a week.

Another program picks up discarded items at people’s homes.

Karrie Gibson, who is President of Vintage Tech Recyclers, says “Right now, for the eight months that we’ve been offering it, it’s 225,000 pounds that we’ve collected at the front door and serviced about 3,000 homes.”

Rich Morrow is getting rid of a few things, including televisions and a fax machine.

He found out about the free At-Your-Door program through his utility bill.

“As soon as I saw the insert, I said wow this is a great opportunity to recycle, so I made the phone call,” he said.

The At-Your-Door program serves 37 communities in Will and DuPage counties right now, but is expanding to Kane, Kendall and Cook counties in the spring.

You can find links to that service as well as the 17 electronics soon to be banned from landfills below:

LINK: Vintage Tech Recyclers

LINK: Will County Green

LINK: Naperville Electronics Recycling

LINK: List Of Electronics Banned From Landfills

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