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NORMAL — Doug Klein had been saving his old televisions as "insurance" in case the family set decided not to work.

But after getting his boys a new television for gaming at Christmas, Klein decided it was time to recycle the three older ones.

"It was celebratory," he said after taking them to Normal's electronic recycling drop-off at the town's public works facility.

The town has been bombarded with old TVs and computer monitors lately. 

"December was a very heavy month," said Wayne Aldrich, public works director. "I hope it was an anomaly. Hopefully, it was just year-end clearing out."

The town recycled more than 46 tons of electronics last month at a cost of $13,409, almost double the amount paid in each of the previous three months.

Until September, the town didn't have to pay anything for contractor Vintage Tech to pick up its pallets of recyclable electronics.

Vintage Tech, and other electronic recyclers, received financial support from electronic manufacturers to recycle electronics, as required under the federal Electronic Products Recycling and Reuse Act. The biggest cost comes from recycling cathode ray tube TVs and computers.

But Illinois set low yearly recycling goals for manufacturers and, once that goal is met, manufacturers can withdraw funding without penalty. Last year, that goal was met by September so manufacturers diverted their financial assistance to other states where yearly recycling goals and penalties were higher.

That forced Vintage Tech to start charging Normal to pick up electronics dropped off at the public works facility.

That new cost also prompted others, including Home Sweet Home Ministries, to stop accepting CRTs to recycle, leaving Normal as one of only two local sites available.

While the Normal City Council agreed to increase its budget to accommodate the additional cost in the short term, it also is looking at other options, including financial help from Bloomington and McLean County.

The Normal site is open to any individual or family and is used by many Bloomington and McLean County residents.

Michael Brown, executive director of the Ecology Action Center, suggested that option to the McLean County Solid Waste Management Technical Committee in the fall. The cost for each entity would be determined by population.

Bloomington Mayor Tari Renner "absolutely" supports the idea. "We need to make it happen," he said Tuesday.

McLean County also is ready to take a pact to the County Board but it's in limbo after Bloomington City Manager David Hales raised some concerns.

"There are no major concerns, just minor contract issues," said Nora Dukowitz, Bloomington's communications manager, adding things should be worked out soon.

Meanwhile, an amendment has been proposed for the state law that would require electronic manufacturers to provide funding toward recycling 100 percent — rather than the current 70 percent — of a set goal.  

State Rep. Dan Brady, R-Bloomington, became a co-sponsor after learning about the problems Normal has with CRTs. 

"It's important that we as legislators try and correct this; it affects the municipalities and the citizens," he said.

Brady is trying to gather support from both sides of the aisle and hopes the General Assembly will take action in its spring session. 

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