A countywide e-waste recycling program is officially up and running for Kankakee County.
Kankakee County Board Chairman Andy Wheeler, in coordination with Belson Steel Center Scrap, held a news conference Monday morning that was also attended by mayors from communities participating in the program.
“We couldn’t have done this without buy-in of the other municipalities that have joined in, because what we don’t want us to have is alleys full of broken TVs, ditches full of busted out TVs and air conditioners, those things that should be here,” said Wheeler at the news conference held at Belson Steel at 1685 N. Illinois Route 50 in Bourbonnais across from the Northfield Square mall.
The Kankakee River Metropolitan Agency, which represents residents in Aroma Park, Bourbonnais, Bradley and Kankakee, had been administering the program through a grant that has since ended. The Belson Steel site will be open six days a week for residents of Kankakee and from the villages of Aroma Park, Bourbonnais, Bradley, Herscher, Hopkins Park, Grant Park, Manteno, St. Anne and Sun River Terrace to offer free e-waste recycling.
All county residents living outside of any municipal corporate limits or those within the above list of municipalities qualify for free approved e-waste disposal.
“We learned about a year and a half ago the current program had ended, and that KARMA was footing the bill for the entire e-waste program,” said Delbert Skimmerhorn, county planning manager. “And I was asked to look into what could we do to help. At the state level, we found that the CERA program, which is the consumer electronic recycling act, provided funds for this type of a program through a fee tacked on to the sale of all electronic goods in the state of Illinois.”
Skimmerhorn said the state’s CERA program would pay for the hauling away of the e-waste, but the county would have to do the collection. Through a request for proposal process, Belson Steel was selected to be the collection site for the municipalities in the intergovernmental agreement.
“This program makes a lot of sense for Kankakee County through 2026,” said Ben Wilson, county transportation manager. “This is not a short term [program] ... and we’d like to continue this. And this waste stream doesn’t go away. So we expect the CERA program to have an extension past 2026. And we’d really like for this to be our home for the long-term future.”
The county will pay Belson Steel Center $95,000 a year in the first two years of the agreement. For 2021, it has been prorated to $83,287 as of Feb. 15. The agreement, approved by the county board in February, and the parties will utilize 2020 census data for participating municipalities to create a fee schedule amount based upon cost per resident.
“We were able to take what KRMA paid and what a village of Manteno was paying, and cut that in half,” Wheeler said. “And that’s just to start with, and in about a year and a half, we’d like to get that down to $1 per resident. That’s a goal.”
There are still drop-off spots in Kankakee and Bradley for e-waste that were set up initially by KRMA.
Kankakee residents can still drop off at the site at Department of Public Works building at 401 W. Oak St.
“We’re analyzing this now,” Kankakee Mayor Chris Curtis said. “The site has limited hours. We’re going to have to determine what we’re going to do with that going forward.”
Bradley’s drop-off site at the public works building at 210 E. Broadway will be available for the foreseeable future.
“We’re going to keep that,” Bradley Mayor Mike Watson said. “It’s more convenient, and they can drop off at a familiar location. We’re going to look at bringing the material here [Belson Steel] on a weekly, monthly basis, however much we generate.”
In Manteno, for the time being, the village will continue to pick-up e-waste on the first Tuesday of each month. Residents must call the village hall to be put on a list. Residents are limited to three items for each pick-up.
“By being part of this [countywide program] we’re able to offer the citizens the opportunity to come here anytime they want to,” Manteno Mayor Tim Nugent said. “...If somebody wants to get rid of their stuff right away, they can come down here anytime that this facility is open and drop it off.
“But we anticipate that all the stuff that we’re going to be picking up as a village is going to decrease dramatically because people are going to come here and drop it off at their convenience, as opposed to waiting for us. And we’re very happy to be part of that.”
Hopkins Park Mayor Mark Hodge said his community will benefit from the e-waste program.
“In Pembroke, we are glad to be a partner because we get residents from outside the community come in to dump their waste in our community,” he said. “And this gives them an alternate location to bring their recycling.”