Cook County Receives Statewide Recycling Award

Award recognizes the County’s first-ever Center for Hard to Recycle Materials

The Cook County Department of Environment and Sustainability (DES) recently received the Outstanding Public Sector Award from the Illinois Recycling Foundation acknowledging the County’s first-ever Center for Hard to Recycle Materials (CHaRM Center).

This award recognizes a community, county or publicly funded institution for a recycling or composting effort, program or event that successfully achieves or promotes diversion. The award was presented to Cook County Government for establishing the first CHaRM Center in the state of Illinois, which provides a permanent location for residents to dop-off items for reuse or recycle that diverts waste from landfills, waterways and vacant lots.

“Keeping items that are not typically accepted through traditional recycling services out of our landfills will help create a better environment for all Cook County residents,” said Cook County Board President Toni Preckwinkle. “I am grateful to South Suburban College for their partnership and am thankful to the Illinois Recycling Foundation for their recognition of the good work taking place here in the County to reduce our carbon footprint.” 

Cook County celebrated the grand opening of the CHaRM Center in South Holland, IL on Earth Day Saturday, April 22, 2023. Over 600 residents from 61 municipalities across Cook County attended the grand opening of the facility. Accepted materials include items such as electronics, clothes and textiles, used personal healthcare equipment, small furniture, small appliances, Styrofoam and general household recyclables including plastic, glass, paper and cardboard as well as metals. To date, nearly 37,000 pounds of materials have been collected at the CHaRM Center. Materials brought to the center are refurbished or recycled.

Cook County allocated nearly $1 million in American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA) funding to partner with South Suburban College (SSC) in establishing the new facility and to create sustainable practices and programs that increase recycling across communities in the Southland.

The CHaRM Center has also received grant funding from two national recycling foundations to expand services. The Recycling Partnership awarded a $32,000 grant to broaden educational programming and purchase a recycling compactor that compresses the materials before they’re transported to a nearby facility to be sorted and recycled into new products and packaging. Additionally, the Foam Recycling Coalition awarded a $50,000 grant to help purchase a Styrofoam densifier that uses heat to condense loose foam products into blocks. The foam is then manufactured into architectural moldings and picture frames, as well as thermal insulation panels for foundations, walls and roofs.

The CHaRM Center is located on SSC’s campus at 15800 South State Street in South Holland, Illinois 60473. The CHaRM Center is open every Tuesday from 7 a.m. – noon, every Thursday from 2 p.m. – 7 p.m. and the second Saturday of every month from 9 a.m. – 3 p.m.

For more information and to view the complete list of items accepted at the CHaRM Center, visit:


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