By Keith Gushard
If you get a computer or TV under the Christmas tree this year, you need to know that getting rid of any old equipment those presents will replace gets more complicated starting in January.
That’s when Pennsylvania’s new Covered Devices Recycling Act goes into effect, which means old TVs, computers and computer equipment can no longer go into the garbage. They now have to be recycled — often at an extra cost to you.
“It’s going to affect everybody at their curb,” said Brenda Schmidt, executive director of the Crawford County Solid Waste Authority. “When they try to throw out televisions and they’re still sitting there because the garbage man didn’t pick them up, people are going to say, ‘What am I going to do with this?’ ”
“Covered devices” are electronics such as computers and their peripherals, printers, monitors and televisions, and they can no longer be thrown into the regular trash under the act.
The City of Meadville modified its refuse collection ordinance for 2013 to prohibit televisions and computers from being placed with normal trash pickup starting Jan. 1.
Schmidt said the act was intended to be a cradle-to-grave conception where the manufacturers are responsible for disposal of the product that they create.
The act requires a manufacturer of “covered devices” to register each of the brands it wishes to sell in Pennsylvania with the Department of Environmental Protection and to then take responsibility for recycling an equal amount of weight of covered devices that are sold in Pennsylvania. Retailers are only able to sell brands that are made by registered manufacturers.
However, as the new act rolls out, manufacturers are only required to collect a percentage of the weight sold and those collections are being done in more populated areas of Pennsylvania, Schmidt said.
The Crawford County Solid Waste Authority and ECS&R (Environmental Coordination Services & Recycling) of the Cochranton area recently held a workshop with local municipal officials from around Crawford County about the new law. ECS&R is a state-licensed electronics recycling and demanufacturing facility.
Municipal officials are concerned that items may end up getting dumped by the road side. They are particularly concerned because the state did little to make people aware of the law.
“We didn’t see anything on this from the state,” said Rick Smith, president of Linesville Borough Council. “The key is getting people educated about it.”
Roy Whaley, a supervisor with Sadsbury Township, said he’s worried municipalities could get stuck with having to clean up the items if they’re dumped by road sides.
“We hold cleanup days — not to do it to make money, but to get rid of the junk,” Whaley said.
Both Schmidt and Jim Cessna of ESC&R said the job of recycling the device falls on the residents as each item sold can be traced back through registration numbers on each device.
Also, townships, boroughs and cities can choose whether to accept electronic waste at their cleanup days, according to both Schmidt and Cessna. If they choose not to accept such waste, the municipalities can refer their residents to approved recycling centers.
The Department of Environmental Protection also offers grants of up to $100,000 to counties to help offset up to 50 percent of the cost of electronic recycling. Crawford County Solid Waste Authority has used only about $30,000 of its grant each year for the past several years, Schmidt said.
However, John Shartle, a supervisor with West Mead Township, remains skeptical about the looming change even with financial aid available for municipalities.
“There still will be dumping grounds for TVs,” Shartle said. “They could just end up along the road someplace.”
Keith Gushard can be reached at 724-6370 or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Electronic recycling options
There are options for Crawford County residents to recycle electronic items that are banned from the regular garbage, according to the Crawford County Solid Waste Authority.
Staples in Vernon Township, west of Meadville, will only accept computers and their peripherals, printers and monitors, but no televisions.
Lincoln Metal in Meadville will pay residents 3 cents per pound for computers, keyboards, and mice.
Lincoln Metal in Meadville and ECS&R (Environmental Coordination Services & Recycling) on Route 19 in Greenwood Township accept all of the products mentioned in the ban, but for a fee.