Free electronics recycling is coming to an end — at least for now — in Forest Park, the village announced Wednesday.

“It’s regrettable, but it’s currently not budgeted and not financially-sustainable,” said a statement by Forest Park Mayor Anthony Calderone.

The two-year-old program allowed residents to drop off used cell phones, obsolete computers and televisions, along with other electronic recyclables at the public works building, 7343 W. 15th St.

To continue the program, the village would have to pay $250 per truck of e-waste recycled and 14 cents/pound for televisions and computer monitors.

The service was paid for ultimately by an arrangement with the state of Illinois and businesses in the state which make the electronics, called “original equipment manufacturers (OEMs).” According to state called Producer Responsibility legislation in more than 20 states, OEMs are asked to pay for the recycling of half of the amount of products created. Recyclers call this “taking responsibility for the lifecycle of their products.”

It’s illegal in Illinois to throw away electronics in the regular trash.

A municipal agreement was forged two years ago between 17 local west suburban municipalities. The group, calling itself West Cook Solid Waste Agency, made an deal with a company called Vintage Tech Recyclers, which agreed to pick up recycling in varying frequencies throughout the area.

Vintage Tech was paid with state money by OEMs, explained the group agency’s Environmental Coordinator James Capporusso.

Some towns arranged for quarterly e-waste recycling events while some had once-a-week pickup. Forest Park had an everyday drop-off program.

The problem is that the OEM money pays for e-waste recycling by the pound. The weight limit has already been met for 2014, and the OEM money has run out, Capporusso explained.

“Eighty percent of [e-waste] recyclables are televisions and computer monitors, which weigh a lot and are the most expensive to recycle,” he said. “The OEMs told Vintage Tech and the other collectors they met their goals and they’re not going to fund any more [collections].”

According to Todd Gibson, Vintage Tech’s VP of sales and marketing, the program was a victim of its own success.

“The funding has dried up because of all the collection. It’s been a wildly-successful collection program,” he said.

The OEM money will return next January, Gibson added. Forest Park got a letter outlining how much it would cost to keep the electronics recycling program going until January, Gibson said. The letter, obtained by Forest Park Review, said Forest Park would have to pay $250 per truckload to haul away e-waste. 

“We hope to reestablish another free program down the line,” Calderone said in a statement. “Or at the very least conduct a free event a couple of times a year.”

This article has been updated to include amounts proposed by Vintage Tech to continue the e-waste pickup service through Dec. 30.

Jean Lotus loves community journalism. She covers news, features, two school boards, village council, crime, park district and writes obits for Forest Park Review. She also covers the police beat for...

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