A Guide to Recycling in Park Forest

Cardboard baled for recycling. (Photo:  Adam Bond / U.S. Air Force)
Cardboard baled for recycling. (Photo: Adam Bond / U.S. Air Force via MGN)

Park Forest, IL-(ENEWSPF)- A recent article in eNews Park Forest addressed the need to reduce the contamination levels in recyclable materials collected every other week by Homewood Disposal Service, the trash and recycling collector for Park Forest. Higher contamination levels greatly slow down the material sorting process making recycling less efficient and more expensive. A recycling guide for Park Forest would be very helpful.

Look no further.

Knowing what items can be recycled and what cannot be is not always easy.  To help customers make that determination, Homewood Disposal has initiated their “Basic Recycling is Better Recycling” program.   The program website provides a wealth of information about what and how to recycle.  Glass bottles and jars, for example, can have their lids and labels left on, but should be gently rinsed before placing them in the recycle bin.   

As part of this effort, Homewood Disposal also prepared a simple guide (below) to help their customers determine if items can be recycled.  A more detailed guide to all the services Homewood Disposal provides to Park Forest residents can be found on their website. 

Curbside recycling guide from Homewood Disposal
Curbside Recycling Guide (Homewood Disposal Service)

Plastics Continue to be the Major Challenge

Plastic and styrofoam
Plastic water bottles can be recycled in Park Forest, styrofoam cannot. (Credit: BrokenSphere / Wikipedia / CC BY-SA 3.0)

One of the most difficult recycling issues confronting residents and e-waste management companies involves plastic containers.  Plastics are coded by a number, one through seven, found inside a triangle typically located on the bottom of the item.  Homewood Disposal Municipal Affairs Manager Frank Hillegonds noted that approximately 90% of the recyclable items collected are classified as numbers one or two.  These items are the easiest to recycle and have the highest demand. They include soda bottles, water bottles, milk containers, and hair care containers.

In Park Forest, Homewood Disposal will collect and recycle all plastic categories excluding number six, which is polystyrene, also known as Styrofoam. Hillegonds said that Homewood Disposal focuses on recycling plastics numbered one, two, and five. The company does collect plastics 3, 4, and 7 in Park Forest, but there is much less demand for these baled products from recycling processors.

Homewood Disposal sorts and bales its recycled materials at its material recovery facility in East Hazel Crest, which is one of the largest such facilities in the region.  Each day this facility processes 600 tons of materials collected for potential recycling from Park Forest and other communities serviced by Homewood Disposal, as well as from other haulers in the area.  Of this amount, Hillegonds noted that about 658 tons have been collected from Park Forest this year through August, or about 38 tons for each bi-weekly recycling pick-up.  He estimates more than 80% of Park Forest residents currently participate in the curbside recycling program.

Park Forest Residents Have Access to Free e-waste Pick-up

While the chart above from Homewood Disposal says that electronics and TVs are not part of the curbside recycling program, Park Forest is unique among many of its neighboring communities in offering electronic waste pick-up at no charge to residents.  Items such as televisions (up to two per year), printers, computers, satellite receivers, and game consoles are picked by Homewood Disposal.  Residents simply need to submit the online request form found on the Homewood Disposal website or call them on 708-798-1004 to arrange a pick-up.  Any items placed on the curb without submitting a request form in advance will not be picked up. 

Hillegonds stated that the recycling of televisions and computer monitors has become very costly since Illinois enacted a law in 2012 which bans electronic items from landfills. There are only a few companies doing this electronics recycling work, and they typically charge collection companies by the pound.  These costs are factored into the contractual rate that Homewood Disposal charges Park Forest.  Hillegonds urges residents who arrange for a television pickup to have other electronic items such as keyboards, laptops, game systems, and old telephones picked up at the same time.

In addition to the chart of recyclable items, the Village of Park Forest website has a “Reuse and Recycling Guide” that includes tips on where residents can dispose of a variety of waste materials including paint, light bulbs, motor oil, batteries, and medical waste.