Get Ready to Clean Out the Garage. Household Hazardous Waste Collection Site Coming to South Suburbs

(David Waschbusch / Pexels)(David Waschbusch / Pexels)

For the second year in a row, the Cook County government has celebrated Earth Day by announcing a new south suburban recycling facility aimed at taking some of the nastiest garbage out of the waste stream.

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Following on the heels of 2023’s successful launch of the Center for Hard to Recycle Materials (or CHARM Center) on the South Holland campus of South Suburban College, Cook County will now contribute $4.6 million to create a permanent household hazardous waste drop-off site, also on the college campus.

The hazardous waste site is expected to open in 2025. When it does, people will be able to clean out their garages, closets and cabinets and safely dispose of items including paint, medications, household cleaning products, pesticides and more, said Deborah Stone, head of the Cook County Department of Environment and Sustainability.

The new facility will not only address negative environmental impacts “on a region with historically high pollution and open dumping issues,” but it will fill a gap in services by providing residents with equal access to recycling and disposal options offered elsewhere in the greater Chicago area, Stone said.

When the South Holland site opens, it will join hazardous waste drop-off points in Naperville, Chicago, Rockford and Lake County.

In terms of diverting waste, the south suburbs had been lagging other regions, but are starting to catch up, said Kristi Delaurentiis, director of the South Suburban Mayors and Managers Association.

Since opening, the CHARM Center has taken in 120,000 pounds of materials, dropped off by some 2,000 people hailing from 122 different municipalities, officials said.

In its acceptance of clothing and textiles, electronic waste and foam plastics, among other materials, the CHARM Center is one of the most comprehensive recycling sites in Illinois, said Anthony Tindall, solid waste coordinator for Cook County.

“There are not others comparable,” Tindall said. “South Suburban College has created something here that doesn’t exist elsewhere.”

South Suburban College President Lynette Stokes said expanding the partnership with the county will benefit both students and the surrounding communities.

“This facility is critical to residents in the south suburbs because we don’t currently have a facility that allows us to properly dispose of household hazardous waste, which can lead to serious health conditions and environmental impacts,” Stokes said. “... (It) will also provide our students opportunities to become the next generation of sustainability leaders through internship and continued education opportunities.”

Funds for the new facility are coming from Cook County’s pool of American Rescue Plan Act dollars, of which the county allocated $100 million to fight climate change and pollution.

Contact Patty Wetli: @pattywetli | (773) 509-5623 |  [email protected]

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