Murrel. Org Updated 6/27/2005  

  Grant Could Transform Electronics Recycler

By Anita Szoke of the Journal Star
Tuesday, September 20, 2005

PEORIA - Recycling for Illinois Inc. is a company that emerged from the ashes of another recycler that went bankrupt. Its goal is to make Peoria the epicenter for electronics recycling in downstate Illinois.

With the help of a recent $45,582 grant from the state of Illinois, the company has taken its first step to achieving that goal.

"The state is becoming aware; they know that we need to have some businesses in Illinois that could handle the recycling of electronics," said Murrel Rhodes, board president at Recycling for Illinois Inc.

The grant money is a part of the $370,000 in Opportunity Returns grants recently awarded to north central Illinois businesses and organizations that are expanding recycling through the region.

Midland Davis Corp. of Peoria received a $100,000 grant to buy equipment essential to the company's ability to expand its recycling capabilities in the area. Its grant will be used to help buy a specialized paper sorting system that will allow Midland to process additional paper more efficiently. The project is expected to annually divert at least 6,000 additional tons of recyclables from being landfilled.

Recycling for Illinois will use its grant to expand its electronics collection and processing capabilities and purchase new equipment to increase the efficiency of operations in the warehouse, Rhodes said.

"This grant will help quite a bit," he said. "Without the grant, we wouldn't have these items."

RFI, located at 1401 N.E. Rock Island Ave. in Peoria, is a company that accepts any electronic device - from televisions to VCRs, computers, and microwave ovens - and either refurbishes it for resale or recycles the parts so they don't end up in area landfills. RFI also works with a number of local agencies to place refurbished items in homes of low-income or disabled citizens and students.

RFI was formed by several local citizens and former employees of Central Illinois Access, a not-for-profit computer recycling company that declared bankruptcy in 2004 after running into cash flow problems. At the time, Retro-Tech Electronics Inc. was created to keep the electronic recycling going, and it is now a division of Recycling for Illinois that helps donate computers to the disabled and low-income citizens and to students.

RFI has new digs too, a 16,000- square-foot warehouse on Rock Island Avenue. There the company takes in all the electronic devices and decides whether to refurbish them or break them apart for recycling. A retail store also is set up at that location where the general public can come in to buy electronic items for drastically reduced prices, Rhodes said.

"Recycling is becoming more and more important all the time," he said. "One of our goals is to keep the electronics out of the landfills, which can pollute the landfills as the poisons leach out eventually."

The company also is seeking to establish permanent electronic equipment collection sites in Peoria to serve Peoria county businesses, residents and schools. Another collection site is being developed in Pekin to serve Tazewell County.

Eventually, it's hoped Peoria will become the center for the processing of old, obsolete and end-of-life electronics in downstate Illinois, Rhodes said.

"We want to keep the electronics out of the landfills so the natural processes can take place in the landfills," he said.

Electronics can be dropped off at RFI from 10 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. Mondays through Fridays; and 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. on Saturdays. There is a recycling fee for monitors and TVs. For monitors, it's $2 no matter what size. For TVs between 15 inches and 27 inches, the disposal fee is $5, and for TVs larger than 27 inches, the fee is $25.

For more information contact 682-0675.