Recycling in Chicago
Hopefully you live in a building that recycles. However, if you live in a building that doesn’t, or you have something that is difficult to recycle (like old computers), it can be hard to find a place to accept those items without paying a fee.
If you have questions about recycling in Chicago, the following sites may be helpful:
City of Chicago recycling plant
The topics below relate to items that are not normally recycled by municipalities.
Computers: If you have an old laptop or PC, you may be able to donate it to charity. If your old computer is only a few years old, there are many charities that will gladly accept your donation so they can refurbish the computer before putting it to good use (if you are about tax deductions, then remember to get your receipt).
However, if your computer is more than five years old, you may discover that it is too old to be refurbished. So then what? My first suggestion is to visit the Web site of the company who made your computer; some not only offer free recycling, but a few may even buy back your old computer for a minimal amount. But beware‚ some places may try to charge you to ship the item to them; if you encounter that, keep on looking.
You may even discover that other computer companies may recycle computers from competitors. Another option is visiting your local electronics store‚ Best Buy will recycle old computers for free, but only if you’ve already removed the internal hard drive (their Geek Squad has a simple video on how to remove most hard drives‚ I just did it for a laptop and it was REALLY easy).
Televisions: If your tv is digital, you may still be able to sell it on Craigslist or through some other means. However, if your tv isn’t digital, then you may need to either sell it with a digital converter or you may have to recycle it. Some big chain stores will recycle old televisions, but check first to see if a fee is involved. Best Buy will accept smaller televisions for a small fee, but they will give you a gift cert for the same amount (so if you were planning to buy a new DVD anyway, that may be a good time to do it!).
Other electronics: The following sites were mentioned in a news article. They seem interesting.
Batteries: Batteries can be recycled at branches of the Chicago Public Library. The containers are normally near the checkout desk.
Long-life light bulbs: CFLs (or long life light bulbs) cannot be tossed into your normal trash. They contain mercury and if the mercury is released in a landfill, it could contaminate the water table. Therefore, several stores have begun collecting these bulbs for recycling (mercury is a commodity!). The stores I could find are: Home Depot, Ikea, and Ace Hardware (varies from store to store).