Naperville’s Recycling Program Gets Short Circuited

When new government programs get hatched, they have a way of sounding exciting. City officials are there with their shovels to break ground, podiums are in place for speeches, and cameras are in place with politicians crowding in so as not to be left out of the picture, which later turns up in their campaign material. Then somewhere down the road in a few months, or years the ballyhooed program begins to fall apart.

Such is the case with Naperville’s electronic recycling program. In 2013, Naperville city officials rolled out the red carpet for former Governor Pat Quinn and other Illinois officials announcing the groundbreaking for Naperville’s new Environmental Collection Center. A State grant for $900,000 was handed to the City to help build the recycling center. The facility was supposed to be the answer for all recycling needs including electronics.

Now we find out very quietly that Naperville’s collection of unwanted electronics was eliminated last Saturday September 19. Not only that, but now the city is “looking at potentially paying tens of thousands of dollars to remove electronics that are currently on-site”, according to Dick Dublinski, Director of Public Works.

City officials have staff working frantically trying to find a vendor to dispose of the electronics. Therein lies the problem; city officials never had a back-up plan. The recycling program was not thought through. Government officials have a tendency to ‘cut the ribbon’ and then move on without thinking about ‘what ifs’. There was no ‘Plan-B’, no contingency plan. Critical thinking, managing performance, and managing execution have typically not been part of the equation for some city officials.

Naperville now has a mayor (Steve Chirico) with strong leadership dimensions and a solid understanding of what it takes to lead a successful business, including the importance of having back-up plans in place, if plan-A doesn’t work.  If he can instill that mindset from the top down to other city officials and department heads, Naperville can minimize being short-circuited in the future.

Show 3 Comments


  1. Gerard H Schilling

    The mayor or city council are not micromanagers of day to day operations but the city manager and his department heads are. This is just one more failure the city manager who proposed this waste of tax payer money to grow his budgets and workforce and will now cost us thousands to remediate. When is enough, enough and this great new mayor with strong leadership skills fire this guy?

    BTW this is all part and parcel of what use to be called Agenda 21 now Agenda 2030 which takes over land, water, power generation and all things that humans touch under the guise of sustainable communities which is nothing more then communism disguised as an earth preserving religion. Its real purpose is total control of all aspects of your lives.

  2. Not quite what was said at the last council meeting. Yes, the company the city has had a long standing contract with to facilitate the recycling of electronics has ended this relationship (its losing money), but they did give the city notice and the city staff have been working for months on finding a new vendor. The problem is not with how this program and facility is being managed but with present economics and the market place. Companies in this business sector are losing money because the largest market for these recyclable (China) is no longer available to them. When the US Congress past a law prohibiting the shipment of this class of recyclables to China they created a surplus that other markets can not absorb. This resulted in everyone in this business developing a stockpile of electronic recyclables, not just Naperville.

    What Dublinski said was there is roughly $30,000 of recyclables at this facility but he did not say that the city was going to have to pay for there removal. What he said was the city is working diligently to find a new company to work with and anticipates having one in place in a few weeks. So a strategy does exist for handling this situation. Because of federal regulations anyone involved in this type of operation only has two options, either find a federally certified company to process these recyclable for you or become certified to do it yourself. This second or “Plan B” option is very costly and not something any government organization looking at ways to cut their budget is in a position to consider.

    Lastly, just because this facility has stop taking electronic recyclables does not mean it has closed. It is still in operation accepting all the other classes of material it accepted before.


    The ribbon-cutting, baby-kissing & hand-shaking by then-Governor Quinn has NOTHING to do w/the demise of the recycling center not accepting electronics. Gov. Quinn & the State of IL provided funding for the Household Hazardous Waste Facility only, which is still running strong. Please get out of bed w/Chirico and get your facts straight.

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