DECATUR, Ill. (AP) — A recent donation left at the Blessingdales Thrift Shop could wind up costing the nonprofit hundreds of dollars, the latest example of what can be an expensive problem for landlords and donation centers: old TVs.
It has become increasingly difficult to get rid of the bulky electronics, which were banned from landfills in 2012. Commodity prices are lower than they used to be, which means there’s less financial incentive for companies to provide recycling, and there are environmental rules for disposing of the lead and other hazardous materials present in many older models.
There are no free options to recycle them in Decatur. Best Buy does accept some televisions for a fee of $25 each, but not all types and sizes. Macon County holds recycling events for residents at which televisions and computer monitors are accepted, but residents must pay $10 for each TV and cannot bring more than three of those items.
“If you are bringing a television to a thrift store, you are not giving that thrift store any favors,” said Laurie Rasmus, director of Macon County Environmental Management. “They can’t sell these. They can’t give them away. They have to pay for disposal.”
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The 10 televisions left outside Blessingdales will likely cost hundreds of dollars to recycle. That means less support for God’s Shelter of Love, the nonprofit emergency homeless shelter that gets its money from the thrift store at 345 W. Eldorado.
“People are using more desperate measures, more unscrupulous ways to get rid of their electronics,” said Ed Bacon, executive director of God’s Shelter of Love.
Landlords also find themselves searching for places to dispose of televisions left on their hands. It’s not uncommon for people who are renting to abandon their TVs when they move out, said Barry Zarzyczny, president of Decatur Landlords Association.
Illegal dumping of electronics on vacant lots is also a problem. Under Decatur city code, property owners are responsible for disposing of items left on their land — an expensive inconvenience when the items are electronics.
“It is our property, so I guess we are stuck doing it,” Zarzyczny said. “Who else is going to clean it up? I guess the city, and they are broke as it is.”
Zarzyczny and Bacon said they wished there were more government-organized options available locally to dispose of TVs.
Macon County has planned several electronics recycling events this year, Rasmus said. Anyone interested in participating can sign up for email notifications at macongreen.com.
“We take care to make sure our electronics aren’t ending up being an environmental detriment,” Rasmus said. “We take steps to make sure they are handled responsibly.”
The website also has information for residents and businesses interested in recycling.
She said it is unfortunate thrift stores are being burdened by TVs that need to be recycled.
“In Macon County, just like everyone else in Illinois, there are limited options,” she said.
At Blessingdales, Bacon said employees call BLH Computers to pick up the TVs whenever enough have accumulated to make the trip worthwhile. He said the company, with offices in Springfield, Taylorville and Jacksonville, was the only option he knew about for recycling the TVs.
Prices vary based on the type of TV, said Bo Ohl, an employee of BLH Computers. Newer, thinner models of TV cost $20 to drop off, while projection or console TVs cost $40.
Residents of Springfield and Christian County can drop off their TVs for free recycling, Ohl said. The company also will pick up the electronics from a business such as a thrift store, he said.
Another target of unwanted electronics donations is the Salvation Army thrift store in Decatur. When people bring TVs to drop off, workers clearly communicate that the store can’t accept them, said assistant manager Tracey Miller.
Still, she said, people will leave televisions “all the time” at the donation box when no employees are around. In fact, one Sunday night, someone left six TVs outside the store.
“When we come to work on Monday, there was six of them there,” Miller said, “and they a mountain of dust on them.”
This creates extra work, time and effort for the store to deal with, Miller said.
“I don’t think it is right,” she said. “We have to haul them off.”
The Decatur store takes the TVs to the Springfield Salvation Army store.
“So what happens is, the people that bring them in here are too lazy and tight to pay to take them to the dump, and they can do this for free,” Miller said.
Bacon, of God’s Shelter of Love, said people who create these problems for thrift stores should be ashamed.
“Essentially, what people are doing is robbing charities,” he said. “I know that sounds like really harsh words, but if it costs us money to recycle those, there is a sense in which a charity is being robbed when (TVs) are dumped.”
Source: (Decatur) Herald & Review, http://bit.ly/2Ey0qGV
Information from: Herald & Review, http://www.herald-review.com