One of four regional environmental collection centers in the state will be expanding and getting a new home in Naperville thanks to a $900,000 grant Gov. Pat Quinn announced Friday.
The grant will help the city construct a $1.18 million recycling facility billed as a one-stop drop-off location for anything recyclable, including paper, plastic, glass, light bulbs, prescription medications, electronics or household hazardous waste items such as oil-based paint and pesticides.
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Mayor George Pradel called the collection center, which will be built north of the city's public works building at 180 Fort Hill Drive, "the first of its kind" and an important next step in the city's long-standing commitment to recycling.
The building will combine into one location the recycling and household hazardous waste collection operations housed at the public works building on Fort Hill Drive and at fire station No. 4 on Route 59.
Fire Capt. Rick Zakaras, who has run the household hazardous waste collection site since it opened in 1992, said the new facility will improve efficiency of sorting materials and shorten wait times for residents from Naperville, DuPage, Kane and Will counties, and as far away as Bloomington and Springfield who drop off unwanted chemicals.
Visitors often must wait more than a half-hour lined up in their cars for firefighters trained as hazardous materials technicians to collect and sort the items they're dropping off, Zakaras said. The new facility will be designed to offer more space for speedier service as well as spill control, sprinklers and a ventilation system to protect the public and employees.
"Naperville is setting the pace and providing a model for many, many other places in Illinois, and for that matter our whole country, on how to do recycling in a way that's available for families and households and definitely our businesses," Quinn said Friday. "We want to really invest in that and that's why our state is putting nearly a million dollars into this recycling facility, expanding it, making it more available."
Naperville's recycling centers collected 51,595 gallons of liquid recyclables, 15 tons of traditional recycling and 260 tons of other recyclable items last year from 16,000 visitors, City Manager Doug Krieger said. He estimated the collection will increase by 30 percent once the new facility opens.
The city plans to build the center as quickly as possible, but a projected completion date is not yet known.
Quinn said construction of a new environmental collection center in Naperville -- in addition to facilities in Chicago, Lake County and Rockford -- will create new opportunities for sustainability.
"I think it's so important that the city of Naperville is such a leader when it comes to recycling and the whole idea of energy efficiency and renewable energy, water conservation," Quinn said. "Those are the hallmarks of the 21st century and we all have to work together on that."
Before announcing funding for the collection center in Naperville, Quinn made a stop in Aurora in support of the John C. Dunham STEM Academy, which will teach students from East Aurora, West Aurora, Indian Prairie and Oswego school districts a science, technology, engineering and math-based curriculum on Aurora University's campus.
Quinn announced $3.5 million in the state's budget to allow construction to begin so the $12 million school can be open to students by fall 2014.