Following a needed technology upgrade project, the Vernon Area Library sought a responsible way to dispose of ten-year-old computers and other equipment. The library partnered with BlueStar Recyclers in Buffalo Grove, a social service nonprofit that recycles electronics while creating jobs for people with autism and other disabilities.
The company uses responsible recycling and repurposing methods, complying with high environmental standards as certified by e‑Steward® recyclers, and hires employees with disabilities.
The library equipment was ten years old, older than the typical computer lifespan of five to eight years, but had been updated over time to extend operational life. To protect patron confidentiality and privacy, no hard drives or other data-containing devices were donated.
The world’s population produces as much as 50 million tons of electronic waste, or “e-waste,” each year. Less than 20 percent of that is ethically recycled, with 80 percent ending up in landfills or shipped to developing countries. E-waste contaminates the soil and groundwater in landfills, putting food supply systems and water sources at risk.
Blue Star Recycling ensures that 100 percent of the electronics it collects are ethically recycled, avoiding landfills and developing countries. The company’s core focus is on recycling to create local jobs for people with disAbilities. The capital A in disAbilities is intended, as the workers, many autistic, have proven to have the appropriate abilities for these jobs. The company pays all its workers (they are not volunteers) and the Buffalo Grove operation helps keep jobs in Illinois.