By Terres Gacek
SOUTH HOLLAND, Ill. (June 6, 2023) – The Center for Hard to Recycle Materials, now located at South Suburban College, aims to be a place to get rid of items residents have trouble recycling, such as TVs, small furniture, toys, clothes, or electronics that don’t belong in the recycling toter.
In April of this year, the Center for Hard to Recycle Materials (CHaRM for short) opened to serve all southern Cook County residents. Nearly 600 local recyclers participated in the grand opening of CHaRM on Earth Day in April.
Re-use, not refuse
In the short time the center has been open, CHaRM has been successful and has received a constant stream of contributions from residents. Approximately 25,000 pounds of recycled material has been collected and diverted from local landfills, said Anthony Tindall, Cook County Solid Waste Coordinator. That’s the equivalent of nearly eight Honda Civic cars’ worth of waste that avoided the landfill.
CHaRM was designed in partnership with South Suburban College to help serve south Cook County, and areas with low recycling rates in due to a lack of recycling resources. The hope is for the center to serve as a model for municipalities and other parts of the county, said Tindall.
The center also partners with several organizations to properly recycle the materials they collect. For example, unwanted clothing, shoes, household textiles, and children’s toys are collected by Helping Hands. Helping Hands transforms these materials into new products or resells the items.
The revenue generated from every pound of material collected at CHaRM goes back to South Suburban College to help manage the recycling program as well as to implement sustainability related programming at the college and surrounding communities.
Where do recycled materials go?
CHaRM works with with PCs for People, and Midwest Recycling Company which collect electronic waste such as unwanted TVs, computers, mobile devices, home entertainment items, and more. Each item collected is assessed, data-sanitized, and refurbished before going to nonprofit organizations, families, and individuals in need. These organizations strive to create a zero-waste cycle for unwanted electronic items.
The center also works with Foam Cycle, which collects large and bulky styrofoam such as the material used to protect TVs, furniture, or other electronic items in shipping. They also collect food service foam such as foam coolers, cups, clamshell containers, eggs cartons, and meat trays — all of which must be sanitized. These foam materials are transformed into ceiling tiles, picture frames, and other products.
Other materials such as paper, plastics, cardboard, glass, and metal are collected by Republic Services and brought to Diversified Recycling — a materials recycling facility — to be sorted and transported to other companies to be reused and manufactured into new products.
Small furniture and personal healthcare equipment is also collected and taken to local homeless shelters, thrift stores, and nonprofit organizations.
Open dates and hours
CHaRM is located on the north side of the SSC campus in the overflow parking lot. The center is open on the dates and times below:
- Tuesday: 7 a.m. – 12 p.m.
- Thursday: 2 p.m. – 7 p.m.
- Second Saturday of every month: 9 a.m. – 3 p.m. TVs are only accepted on Saturdays.
Please visit the CHaRM website for more information about what materials are accepted at CHaRM. Note: mattresses, tires, and hazardous materials are not accepted.
South Suburban College is located at 15800 South State Street in South Holland.