The Ins and Outs of Recycling in Champaign-Urbana

By Rachael McMillan

soda-686984_1280There are many ways to go about the business of recycling in Champaign-Urbana. Here is our list, categorized by the type of item to be recycled. (For household items that can be resold or distributed to others in need, we have developed another list that includes clothing, books, appliances, furniture and more; if you want to make money on your old stuff, check out our consignment posts as well.)

Metal, plastic, cardboard, and paper
Curbside pick-up of these items is available in Champaign through whichever waste service you have; in Urbana recycling is handled through its U-Cycle Program. For Champaign residents, whichever service you use, check with your provider to see which items they will accept; some take more variety than others.

If you live in a multi-family (apartment/condo) dwelling in Urbana, you should be able to recycle these items at your residence. Here’s info at the city of Champaign website.

If you want a drop-off option, check out  Illini Recycling in Champaign, located at 420 Paul Ave. The company will take: cardboard, #1 -#7 plastic bottles, magazines, tin food cans, newspaper, aluminum cans, office paper, aluminum foil/pans; and clear, green or brown glass bottles.

Also in Champaign is Green Purpose (808 Pioneer St., Champaign), a custom repurposing solutions center.

If you have other scrap metals, you can take them over to Mervis Recycling in Urbana (3008 N. Cunningham Ave.) or Mack’s Twin City Recycling in Urbana. Rates paid vary. Items that you can recycle/scrap that you wouldn’t think of? Keys, Christmas lights, (landline) phone cords, old plumbing implements.

Yard waste
Urbana’s Landscape Recycling Center is the place to take the big bags of clippings, weeds and other assorted natural debris that result from the process of turning your yard into a pruned paradise. Bags can be purchased at most landscape and home improvement stores, as well as at Meijer and Walmart, among other places. The LRC charges fees for their services, but they’re well worth it to responsibly rid yourself of yard waste.

Free curbside landscape recycling happens in Champaign in the spring and fall; you can sign up for email notices of future pick-up dates. Urbana also has free leaf pick-ups in the spring and fall. Check its website for dates and zones.

Plastic grocery bags
As much as we all try to never be without our reusable grocery bags, there are times where are caught unprepared at the grocery store. Many local big-box stores offer recycling of plastic bags (and not just their own), including Schnuck’s, Meijer, Walmart, and most recently, Target. Some of the local trash collectors may accept them as part of their recycling program; be sure to ask.

Medication Disposal
Champaign-Urbana residents have 24/7 access to safely dispose of their unwanted or expired medications, including controlled substances, via the C-U Area Medicine Take-back Program (see complete article here).  Residents can drop off their medications in the collection boxes in the lobbies at:

Did you forget about the recent countywide electronics recycling event? (FYI: The next one is 8 a.m.-noon Oct. 10 at Parkland College.) Didn’t want to wait in line? Well, we have good news for you. There are are several options:

The Champaign County Reduce, Reuse, Recycle page lists options for electronics (along with numerous other types of materials).

Mervis Recycling in Urbana (3008 N. Cunningham Ave.) accepts computers, servers and network devices, monitors, printers, VCRs, DVD players, stereos, copiers, and cell phones for recycling without charge. They will not accept televisions, speakers or microwave ovens. For more information about Mervis Industries’ Electronics Recycling Program, call 217‐344-7696.

Best Buy also recycles electronics, with some restrictions.

Did you digitize your old music and video collection? Do you have a lot of this stuff sitting around your house? You can recycle it all at Best Buy. They also take used gift cards, wires, cords, and more.

Compact Florescent Light bulbs

The Home Depot (located at 820 Bloomington Rd., Champaign) offers a free program that allows customers to bring in any expired unbroken CFL bulbs, place them in a plastic bag and deposit them both into a collection unit.

The City of Urbana offers free single-use battery and rechargable batteries recycling at five locations, including the Anita Purves Nature Center; the Urbana Free Library; the Urbana City Building; the Philipps Recreation Center (single-use only at that location); and the Urbana Public Works. Before you put batteries in the receptacle, put a piece of transparent tape over the positive (sticky-outie) end of each one. At the Urbana Free Library, look for a drop-off container  to the right of the circulation desk.

Didn’t find what you were looking for? Both the city of Champaign and the city of Urbana put out lists (although some of the information may be out of date) of places to take a host of other reusables/recyclables, from clothing to motor oil.

A former high school teacher who now is spending time at home with her two children, Jack and Kate, Rachael McMillan is a freelance writer and reading tutor. She is a regular contributor to


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  1. See for a more complete list of local battery recycling options for individuals and businesses, as other information. Illinois EPA also has a services locator ( to help people find recycling options near them for medications, electronics, and household hazardous waste.

  2. pattsi petrie says:

    Illini Recycle no longer takes ANY glass.