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David Hartke inspects paint thinners being added to the hazardous waste collection pile at the Sept. 29 recycling event held at Hadley Middle School in Homer Glen. Photos by Analisa Trofimuk/22nd Century Media
A-Team employee Aaron Satorius packs a stack of televisions.
Analisa Trofimuk, Freelance Reporter
1:00 pm CDT October 10, 2018

Will County once recently once again partnered with recycling companies to create an easy and fast way for residents to recycle and dispose of unwanted electronics and household hazardous waste — a recycle drive-thru.

The event takes place every two years in various locations throughout the county. This year, the event took place Sept. 29 at Hadley Middle School in Homer Glen and attracted more than 600 county residents.

Will County Recycling Specialist Marta Keane said she expected to see 40,000-60,000 pounds of electronics dropped off by residents this year. The most popular items recycled each time are televisions, she said.

“The only other option for residents to dispose of their televisions is to drive out to a facility in Lockport during a small timeframe on Tuesdays and Thursdays,” Keane said. “At least this way, residents know their items will be recycled or disposed of properly." 

Recycled electronics were taken by A-Team Recyclers, who will then ship the items to ERI, a recycling facility about two football fields long in Plainfield, Indiana. Items like televisions are taken apart, and the pieces are separated. Certain types of metal and glass can be reused, while other materials are incinerated. 

Other electronic materials recycled during the event included items such as speakers, cameras, cellphones, power tools, radios, hair dryers and several other items. 

Homer Glen Community Relations Coordinator Sue Steilen said the event does not always offer the opportunity to dispose of electronic items, and they often see a larger turnout when residents are allowed to bring in electronics.

“Some residents even in Tinley and Orland who are on that border of the counties [Will and Cook] are forced to pay a fee when they want to dispose of their TVs — that is one of the great things about this event,” Steilen said.

Prairie View Landfill, a property owned by Will County, funded the recycling event. 

In order to participate in the event, residents were asked to make appointments online. Keane said 654 community members made appointments. After their appointments, they would then allow those who did not make appointments to drop off their items, as well.

Upon arrival, cars were directed through the line to drop off electronics first, followed by hazardous waste. At each station, there were workers and volunteers ready to unload the cars and sort the items into their respective spots to then be packed and loaded into trucks.

David Hartke, the project manager for the Household Hazardous Waste program, said residents were allowed to bring hazardous waste materials such as break fluid, oil, pool chemicals, lights, medications and a variety of other materials. Hartke partnered with the recycling company, Tradebe, to determine which waste items were able to be recycled, and which items needed to be incinerated. Specific types of flammable paint are reused to create fuel for cement kilns. 

Oil and antifreeze were dumped into large bins with hoses attached to a Future Environmental truck. The liquids were funneled into different compartments in the truck, which would then be transported to various recycle facilities.

Tradebe employee Paul Azor said he expected to see about 33,000 pounds of hazardous waste to be collected during the event.

Keane said she plans to continue the event for years to come, as it aligns perfectly with Homer’s motto of “community and nature ... in harmony.”