Frequently Asked Questions
What materials are accepted in my curbside recycling program?
Most municipal recycling contracts include the following materials. However, always check with your Village or City staff for confirmation:
- Paper such as newspaper, office paper, junk mail, post cards, envelopes (even with the plastic windows), magazines, catalogs and phone directories, wrapping paper (without foil or flocking), greeting cards, cardboard, cereal and food boxes, and milk and juice aseptic cartons. DO NOT include: paper plates, cups napkins, wax liners from boxes, or soiled pizza boxes!
- Metals such as aluminum and steel cans, empty aerosol spray cans, and clean aluminum foil and foil trays.
- Glass bottles and jars of all colors are accepted (amber, clear, green). DO NOT include ceramic mugs, mirrors, lightbulbs or window glass! These glass-like materials will contaminate the load.
- Plastics are the most complex material to recycle. There are seven primary types of plastic resin containers. Look on the bottom of each plastic container for a number in the chasing arrow recycling symbol. Numbers #1 and #2, and usually number #3, #5 and #7 plastic bottles and containers are accepted in curbside programs.
What about #6 Polystyrene plastics?
At this time, municipal curbside recycling programs are not accepting #6 PS plastics, known as polystyrene. It comes in two forms, expanded (fluffy and white) and rigid (clear). This plastic is mostly air, often coated with food contaminates, and can cost up to 300% more than other commodities to recycle due to its lightweight nature, lack of market competition and high transportation costs. However, there are two locations that will accept clean, expanded polystyrene from residents:
1200 N. Milwaukee Avenue
For more information, visit www.abt.com/green
Dart Container Corporation
310 Evergreen Drive
North Aurora, IL
For more information, visit www.dartcontainer.com
What about plastic bags?
Plastic Bags cannot go into your curbside program because they are light in weight and can blow away as well as clog sorting machinery, but are collected at most major grocery and some retail stores for recycling.
If a package states that it is recyclable, why can’t I put it in my cart/bin?
Just because packaging claims to be recyclable doesn’t mean that it can be added to your municipal recycling program. What it means is the product or packaging is technically able to be recycled, but the key is whether or not there is a market for that material, which dictates your community’s recycling program.
How should recyclables be prepared?
- Empty and rinse each container to remove food or beverage residue.
- Put plastic lids back on their original containers – put steel lids in the recycling cart/bin.
- Crush or flatten large containers or boxes to make room in the cart/bin for more materials.
- Remove the inside wax liners of paperboard boxes, such as cereal boxes.
- Place only approved items in the cart or bin. Things like tissue, paper towels and disposable paper goods all need to be thrown away. Cardboard from pizza can only be recycled if there isn’t any grease or food on it. Glass items, such as window glass, ceramics, pottery, crystal or light bulbs will contaminate recycled bottle glass if mixed together.
- Labels no longer have to be removed from containers.
Do different materials need to be separated?
No, all acceptable recyclables can be collected in one container, known as single-stream.
What happens to the recyclables?
Materials collected from municipal curbside programs will be taken to a Materials Recovery Facility (MRF), sorted, baled by material and then sold to a manufacturer who will make new products from the materials for the marketplace. For example:
- Paper products will be reprocessed and made back into new paper, cardboard boxes and paper products such as paper towels, facial and toilet paper.
- Aluminum takes about six weeks for an aluminum can to be purchased, placed in a recycling bin, melted and molded into a new can, filled with product and returned to the store shelf. The can manufacturers estimate that it takes 95% less energy to make an aluminum can from recycled materials than from raw materials.
- Steel cans will be recycled and made into new cans, used in appliances and sometimes automotive parts. According to the Steel Recycling Institute, every new can contains a minimum of 28% recycled steel.
- Plastics - Recycled #1 PET plastic beverage bottles are washed, chipped, melted, shaped into small pellets that are puffed and stretched to make fibers that are used for stuffing pillows and sleeping bags, or made into carpet and clothing items. Recycled #2 HDPE plastics, such as laundry detergent containers and milk jugs are melted and made into park benches, playground equipment, frisbees and school supplies, such as rulers and clipboards. Other numbered plastics are reprocessed and made into a wide variety of new products as well.
How can I get recycling if I live in a condo or apartment building?
Each condominium association and apartment building landlord contracts with a private hauling company to provide solid waste pick up. It is up to the managing company or landlord to include a recycling provision in the contract. Join forces and voices to make this request. Visit swancc.org for drop-off locations throughout the Chicagoland area.
Where can Household Chemical Wastes be safely disposed?
Residentially-generated oil-based paint, as well as paint thinners, solvents and assorted household chemicals are considered hazardous waste and should be disposed of at an Illinois Environmental Protection Agency-sponsored (IEPA) one-day event or permanent collection facility. Any Illinois resident can drop off these types of materials at the following locations:
Chicago's Household Chemicals & Computer Recycling Facility
1150 N North Branch Street
Tuesdays: 7:00 am to 12:00 pm
Thursdays: 2:00 pm to 7:00 pm
1st Saturday of month: 8:00 am to 3:00 pm
NO LATEX PAINT
Also accepts computer materials and propane tanks.
Naperville Fire Station #4
1971 Brookdale Road
9:00 am - 2:00 pm
Saturday and Sunday
NO LATEX PAINT
Rockford Rock River Reclamation District
8:00 am - 4:00 pm Sat
12:00 pm - 4:00 pm Sun
NO LATEX PAINT
What Household Chemical Waste materials are accepted at each IEPA Facility?
- Aerosol Paints
- Cleaning Products
- Drain Cleaners
- Fluorescent Lamp Bulbs
- Hobby Chemicals
- Lawn Chemicals
- Oil-based Paint
- Old and Outdated Medicines and Pharmaceuticals
- Old Gasoline
- Paint Thinners
- Pool Chemicals
- Used Motor Oil
DO NOT BRING latex paint or household batteries to these facilities!
If you are a business owner and have a large amount of chemicals to dispose of, contact a permitted company to arrange for a pick up for a fee. View references.
If you have questions regarding the HCW drop-off locations or materials accepted, contact the Illinois Environmental Protection Agency at (217) 785-8604.
What do I do with unused latex paint?
- First and foremost, think before you buy paint or any household product for that matter! Do not purchase more paint than you will need and make sure that you have the right color. Also be sure to ask for “environmentally-friendly” or no/low VOC paint to reduce your exposure to harsh chemical fumes.
- Then, use up what you buy – cover areas with a second coat of paint or find something else to paint, for instance - use the paint as a base coat on a basement floor or outdoor fence. When finished, remove the lid and let the can dry out and dispose of it in your regular garbage. Be sure to leave the lid off so that your hauler knows the can is empty.
Try to donate good left-over paint to an area high school, local theater troupe, church, etc.
Or, if you have a significant amount of good paint to be reused, contact the:
- Construction Material Depot
- Chicago, IL, cmdepot.com
- The Rebuilding Exchange
- Chicago, IL, rebuildingexchange.org
- This site has a bulletin board for buying and selling excess construction materials, tools and equipment. It also lists locations of reuse stores for donating materials to benefit Habitat for Humanity.
If your latex paint is not usable and you are unable to dry it out yourself, the following hardware stores in the region will take it back for recycling and charge you a small fee:
- Glenview Ace Hardware, 1560 Waukegan Road, Glenview – (847) 724-3444
- Millen Do It Best, 1219 Wilmette Avenue, Wilmette – (847) 251-3060
- Palatine Ace Hardware, 239 E. Northwest Highway, Palatine – (847) 358-8100
- Schaumburg Ace Hardware, 560 S Roselle Road, Schaumburg – (847) 895-9292
- Sherwin Ace Hardware, 1705 W. Campbell, Arlington Heights – (847) 255-3113
- Skokie Ace Hardware, 5035 Oakton Street, Skokie – (847) 673-0700
DISPOSAL: HOW TO DRY OUT LATEX PAINT
In a protected and well-vented area (garage or basement), away from children and pets, remove the lid and allow paint to naturally dry out over a period of time. This method works best if the can is less than ¼ full. For fuller cans, mix shredded newspaper, kitty litter or a hardware store-bought Waste Paint Hardener to the paint can and allow it to absorb and dry out over a period of time.
What happens to computers/electronics recycled through SWANCC?
SWANCC contracts with Supply-Chain Services, Inc. (SSI) of Lombard, Illinois, to process, demanfacture and responsibly recycle the collected computers/electronics. When the materials go to SSI’s facility, workers tear apart the items by hand and sort the different materials. All hard drives are sanitized or wiped clean a minimum of three times, which exceeds the Department of Defense’s standards. Take a few minutes to see how materials are handled at SSI through a video segment of “Today in America”, hosted by Terry Bradshaw at supply-chainservices.com.
If a resident is concerned about the security of information on a hard drive, it can be erased or removed and destroyed prior to dropping-it off at a SWANCC event or permanent site. For details, visit epa.gov/plugin.
Agency’s Green Pages
SWANCC provides an online directory called Green Pages for items and materials that can be reused, recycled (not in curbside program) or provide an environmentally-safe disposal option. Some of the sections include reuse opportunities for books, clothing, office equipment, sporting goods, and toys. Recycling outlets include companies that take appliances, construction debris, office machine cartridges, metals, motor oil and many other items.