Monday, April 11, 2011

Recycling the old-fashioned way

My wife and I had accumulated a couple of burnt-out compact fluorescent light bulbs, a bunch of dead batteries, and a pile of electronic junk over the past several months. On April 2, we loaded it all in the family van and headed to the City of Chicago Household Chemicals and Computer Recycling Facility at 1150 N. North Branch Street.

The City facility is open for drop-offs only on the following days:
  • Tuesdays (7 am – 12 pm)
  • Thursdays (2- 7 pm)
  • The first Saturday of every month (8 am – 3 pm).
We got rid of the batteries and CFL's -- but we had decidedly mixed results in our efforts to get rid of the electronics.

An old inkjet printer was cheerfully accepted, as were a bunch of old computer cables. But a burnt out coffee maker was rejected, as was an old CD/radio/cassette player (which, with its detachable speakers, was quite the almost-portable entertainment center in its day). We had a string of long-dead Christmas lights we'd been meaning to get rid off as well -- but it, too, was rejected.

Sure enough, when I went back to check, "stereo equipment" was on the list of items that the City would not accept. But the facility will take old DVD and MP3 players. (The link in this paragraph will take you to the complete list of what the City will and will not accept at the North Branch Street facility.)

I don't understand why the City makes these distinctions.

Aren't cassette players and DVD players both made from similar components? Isn't it the innards that have value? I keep hearing about the 'cost' of bringing blue cart recycling to Chicago, but I never hear about the revenues that should be realized from recycling. After all, every grade school in the area raises funds by hosting newspaper collection bins. Presumably the companies paying the schools for old newspapers would not be doing that unless they were selling the newspapers at a profit somewhere else. Aren't there similar marked for old plastics and so forth?

I'm looking into these questions and I propose to report back here on what I find out.

In the meantime, though, I found a way to recycle the old boom box: I put it out next to the garbage cart the night before our regular pickup. In the night, someone came by and took it. Recycling -- old school.


Albert said...

Some suburbs have started recycling Christmas lights, but they only do it right after Christmas. (My town does, so hang onto your string until next Christmas and I'll be glad to recycle it for you.)

Jack Leyhane said...

I did hang onto the Christmas lights and I'll try to pay better attention in December and January when opportunities are presented to turn these in. Let me know about opportunities in your area; I'll post the information. (I put up a post about different places where holiday lights could be recycled in 2009 -- but, of course, that wasn't helpful in early April 2011.)

The thing that interests me is why lights -- or stereo equipment -- or used coffeemakers -- aren't recyclable year round. Money is being made from some recycling. One would think that there is some more money to be made from recycling more things. But maybe there's a reason why that is presently impractical. I'd like to find out, though, and report on it.