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July 1, 2020 – A Deadline By Which School Districts Must Use Recycled Paper And Significantly Reduce Solid Waste!

The Illinois statute found at 105 ILCS 5/10-20.19c imposes certain requirements on Illinois school districts regarding recycled paper and paper products and solid waste management (“School Recycled Paper and Solid Waste Reduction Law”), with an apparently significant deadline approaching in mid-2020.

Section (a-5) of the statute provides that:

                Section (b) in particular provides that, wherever economically and practically feasible, school boards, all public schools and attendance centers in a school district and their school supply stores shall, beginning July 1, 2020, procure recycled paper and paper products amounting to at least 75% of the total dollar value of paper and paper products purchased.  Not included in this amount is all paper purchased for publication of student newspapers, which was required to be printed on recycled newsprint years ago. Earlier benchmarks of 10%, 25% and 50% were to have been met by respectively July 1, 2008, July 1, 2011 and July 1, 2014.  In fact, each of these benchmarks are extensions from earlier deadlines ranging from July 1, 1992, to July 1, 2001.

                The statute sets out how much-recycled material must be contained in various paper products, Section (d), and defines terms that provide guidance on how schools must proceed regarding use of recycled paper and paper products. 

In addition, Section (e-5) imposes requirements on school districts regarding solid waste management in general, providing that:

                The statute does not include a procedure for its enforcement or what, if any, sanctions can be imposed on a school district that does not comply. The July 1, 2020 date is, however, a deadline the School Recycled Paper and Solid Waste Reduction Law requires must be met by Illinois school districts regarding both use of recycled paper and solid waste reduction.    

                Conclusion:  The School Recycled Paper and Solid Waste Reduction Act were put in place years ago with an admirable environmentally conscious goal in mind. School districts have and will continue to consider steps they will take to ensure that their procurement procedures are consistent with the School Code. As the “renewable energy”, “green new deals”, “carbon neutral” and “LEED-certified” become part of the everyday lexicon, public entities will have increased interest in acknowledging and implementing these initiatives. 

If you have any questions about this statute or other environmental law issues, please contact Tressler attorney Steve Grossmark at sgrossmark@tresslerllp.com [1], (312)627-4017 or (847)567-7032.