Lawrence M. Walsh
WILL COUNTY -- After accepting more than 4.4 million pounds of residential electronics at 13 drop-off sites and several one-day events in 2015, Will County is being forced to reduce collections in 2016.
The County’s vendor since 2007, Vintage Tech, was purchased by Kuusakoski in 2015. Kuusakoski was unable to come to a funding agreement with electronics manufacturers for 2016, which resulted in the firm canceling its service contract with Will County over a year ahead of its expiration date.
Will County immediately went to bid for service after the notification by Kuusakoski, but due to manufacturers’ demands, recyclers will only service sites that can provide the staff to sort materials and pack a semi-trailer on site. This represents a tremendous change for collection sites that are not funded or are otherwise unequipped to do it.
Consequently, over the next couple of weeks most permanent collection sites in Will County will be closed, said Marta Keane, Recycling Specialist with the Resource Recovery and Energy Division of the Land Use Department.
Three partners, the Village of Mokena Public Works, the Troy Township Highway Commission in Shorewood and the City of Lockport Public Works have agreed to try to meet these new requirements. Officials in a fourth community, Bolingbrook, are considering their options. Bolingbrook is home to one of the first sites opened.
However, even with these new requirements, the fee for service will be increased an estimated $200,000 based on the cost for items such as microwaves and string lights that have always been collected but are not banned from disposal and not eligible for manufacturer funding.
“This is $200,000 that was not budgeted because we had a fully funded contract in place,” said Dean Olson, Resource Recovery and Energy Division Director. The proposal to continue to keep three to four sites open will be heard by the County Board’s Executive Committee on Feb 11, and, if passed through Committee, then again on Feb. 18 at the full County Board.
If the Board accepts the agreement, Olson continued, those three or four will remain open, but staff will rebid service for a one-day collection event this spring funded by the County’s Landfill Host Agreement. Additional one-day events will be scheduled if the budget allows.
In addition, the County held a second contract with Vintage Tech/Kuusakoski for front-door collection service. The firm notified the County that it will increase the cost of that service from $25 to $75 due to the loss of manufacturer revenue and the low value of metals and plastics that can be recovered.
Olson said this invalidates that contract but doesn’t prevent the firm from offering this service. This service is also available through Best Buy for $100.
Keane stressed that illegal dumping at former collection sites and along roadways will not help solve the inconvenience these closings present.
“These changes are not the fault of government sites trying to provide service, but the fault of a law that, when originally created, contained too much compromise, favoring electronics manufacturers outside of Illinois over the needs of residents,” Keane said
Residents should be aware that it is illegal to be charged a fee to recycle any item that has been banned from disposal unless receiving enhanced services, such as at-home collection, or an in-store credit at a retail drop-off site, she said.
Will County shall continue to work on legislation at the state level to restore services throughout the County and the state as similar problems are reducing collection sites statewide. For more information and a list of closure dates and hours of drop-off operation, please visit www.willcountygreen.com.
The Will County Land Use Department is led by Director Curt Paddock and is under Will County Executive Larry Walsh’s office.