Member Spotlight


ATEN stands for Assistive Technology Exchange Network and it is a division of the non-profit United Cerebral Palsy Seguin of Greater Chicago, as well as member of the Illinois Recycling Association for over two decades . ATEN has a single mission, to get technology into the hands of the disabled. Towards this end, the group collects and refurbishes a variety of computer related items, which includes erasing hard drives from items donated to them by citizens and businesses. Once the items are ready for use, ATEN distributes them to students with disabilities throughout the state. Each year ATEN provides Illinois students in special education programs with more than 4,000 computers and related equipment donated by individuals and corporations.
The COVID-19 pandemic has yielded countless phone calls and inquiries on best practices to meet the digital divide. Over the past several months ATEN has received over 297 school requests and has delivered by giving Illinois students over 1900 types of technology such as desktops, laptops, Chromebooks and iPads to those finding it challenging to e-Learn and stay connected at home. The technology was given to students for home use to access general academic curriculum, social networking, related services resources and a digital community, all in line with the Illinois State Board of Education guidelines.

Greg Grill is the Director of the Tinley Park recycling/refurbishment facility and has been in this position since 1998. ATEN is a registered recycler with the IEPA and Greg will be a panelist on the Electronics Recycling webinar on May 21. (see below for details)

Since 1995 ATEN has received funding from the Illinois State Board of Education. It is affiliated with the National Cristina Foundation, a national nonprofit agency that distributes donated computer equipment to people in need.

ATEN's long time membership with the IRA has proven to be extremely beneficial by providing on line resources and contact to experts in the fields. The membership allows us the opportunity to receive information on the latest legislation and ever changing recycling procedures.

For more information about ATEN, click here.
 Members of the Illinois Recycling Association enjoy the benefit of spotlighting their Business, Government, Educational Institution or Non-Profit entity in a future Newsletter. If you would like to be featured, please send an email to

The Illinois Recycling Association invites you to attend
Electronics Recycling in Illinois: Residential & Coimmercial

MAY 21, 2020 10AM - 11:30AM

  • Welcome Remarks - Ron Tazelaar, IRA Board President and President of TAZ C&D Recycling
  • Moderator - Marta Keane, IRA Board Member, Recycling Program Specialist, Will County
  • Panelists -
Jessica Miller, Illinois Environmental Protection Agency (IEPA)
Gregory Grill, UCP Seguin ATEN
James Larkin, ATeam Recyclers
Luke Fikejs, IRA Board VP, MW Recyclers

Loss of a recycling end market for C&D fines may lead to a shut-down of the C&D recycling industry in Illinois.

“Fines” are the grit that remains after all larger C&D materials have passed through the sorting screens at C&D facilities. By weight, “fines” are a substantial by-product of the C&D recycling process. For most C&D recyclers, it is necessary to recycle fines in order to reach a state-mandated 75% recycling rate. What happens if fines are not recycled? A C&D recycler can face classification as a waste transfer station and would require siting under the Illinois Solid Waste Management Act.

A common re-use of fines had been as road bed material and alternative daily cover in area landfills. These practical re-uses of fines were determined by the IEPA to be “beneficial use” and thus the fines were deemed recycled. Recently, landfills ceased acceptance of fines. Neighbors of landfills point to the dry-wall component of fines as a source of odors at landfills. Facing complaints, and in some cases lawsuits, Illinois landfills have shut off the recycling of fines.

While the C&D recycling industry seeks new ways to beneficially re-use fines, a legislative answer may be the solution. It will take time to find new markets, as well as additional capital investment to redesign the recycling process to reduce the amount of fines. Until then, C&D recyclers face possible shut down to avoid enforcement action as illegal waste transfer stations.
The Illinois Recycling Association is forming a task force to look at possible solutions to this dilemma. Please contact the Association for more details.
Legislative Update

COVID-19 Continues to Impact the Legislature

Due to the Coronavirus, the Illinois General Assembly has been staying at home but hearing from constituents through emails and phone calls. They are scheduled to be in Springfield Wednesday, May 20 through Friday, May 22 with the House meeting at the Convention Center. All signs point to the legislature convening only for the State Budget (operating and capital) and absolutely essential items. We anticipate more action on some of the less controversial bills during Veto Session this fall.
However, this doesn't mean that the Illinois Recycling Association is not thinking legislatively. In opposition to the waste industry's request to temporarily rescind the landfill yardwaste ban in the State of Illinois, the IRA penned a letter to the Governor urging protection of the food scrap and yardwaste recycling industry.

In the 15th edition of the IEC's Lunch & Learn Series , James Jennings from the Illinois Environmental Protection Agency discusses recycling, composting and waste management in Illinois.

Mike Nowak Show, former IRA Board Member, entitled  
Go Green or Go Home on April 19, 2020 
The weekly radio show featured Tom Szaky, founder and CEO of Terracycle. Tom reported on their innovative Loop program and how reusable containers can be safe even with the threat of coronavirus. And Marta Keane, Recycling Program Specialist from Will County, joined to talk about what's happening to recycling programs right now. As always, meteorologist Rick DiMaio presented his special take on weather and climate.  
Cart Confusion: Shredded Paper

Paper is recyclable and technically so is “shredded paper.” However, when shredded paper is placed in curbside carts or in dumpsters loosely, it seldom gets recycled. This is because it falls off the conveyor belts or gets stuck on other items and never makes it to the paper baler. We encourage people to tear paper by hand through their name or confidential number, placing half the item in the cart one week and the other half in the next week so they have no fear of identity theft. Most identity theft occurs through credit card transactions and rarely due to curbside theft of papers. It is virtually impossible to occur at a sorting facility due to speed and technology in use at a Material Recovery Facility. If someone must shred they should consider placing the small pieces in a paper bag and stapling the bag closed or finding a reuse opportunity for the shreds, such as animal bedding.
Compost Awareness and COVID-19

Earlier this month the US Composting Council and Illinois Food Scrap Coalition celebrated International Compost Awareness Week (ICAW). The US Composting Council and Institute for Local Self Reliance continued its series on Composting in the Time of Covid 19, by introducing a webinar on creating Victory Gardens during shelter in place recommendations.

A local company, Teegen Compost, created a video for ICAW to educate homeowners on practices to recycle food scrap and yard trimmings to make compost for their garden.

Note from the Board of Directors

We want to thank all of you for your participation and support. We’re looking forward to continued work with Members and followers of the Illinois Recycling Association. You are always welcome to submit topics of interest to the recycling industry to
It is not loo late to join / renew your membership!
Stay healthy and safe!
"I am an optimist. It does not seem too much use being anything else."
Michel de Montaigne French Philosopher
Illinois Recycling Association, PO Box 6957, Villa Park IL 60181
708 358 0050