New recycling law restricts TVs, monitors in landfills
A new recycling law will be implemented in Pennsylvania at the end of the month. Electronic devices – televisions, monitors, laptops with a screen larger than five inches, computers, printers, keyboards and peripherals attached to a computer – must be recycled.
The Covered Device Recycling Act of 2010 was passed by then Gov. Ed Rendell in 2010 and will go into effect on Jan. 24.
“It in no longer legal to dump TVs and computer monitors into Pennsylvania's landfills,” said Susan Huba, executive director of Loyalhanna Watershed Association. “It is because of the lead and mercury in the items. Before, you could leave these items for the garbage collectors to haul away to the local landfills. Now, people must locate a venue like ours to recycle items properly.”
Items with a cord – DVD/VCR/CD players, stereos, speakers, tape players
answering machines, telephones, cellphones – should be recycled but are not required in the new law.
Huba said the amount of “e-waste” is not high but it is toxic and for that reason must be recycled. She said Pennsylvania is one of 23 states to comply with the electronics recycling law to date.
Huba said 43 tons of electronic recyclable materials was collected at the watershed's recycling center in 2011 and in 2012 that figure nearly doubled to 75 tons.
“More people are recycling electronics every year and we expect to grow even more this year with the new law,” said Huba.
Items for electronic recycling may be dropped noon - 5 p.m. Tuesdays at the watershed association's garage located at 110 Andi Lane.
“Electronics are collected in our garage,” she said. “Our hauler is JVS Recycling out of Rockwood, a DEP certified de-manufacturer. They dismantle everything at their facility. We used to have to pay to haul away the items but because of the new law, we no longer have to pay.”
The local watershed association has offered a recycling program since 2003 and was recognized for its efforts. They received the Governors Award for Environmental Excellence in 2006 and the Waste-Watcher Award from Professional Recycling of Pennsylvania group in 2012.
The recycling facility, located along Old Route 30 West in Ligonier Township is solely funded by donations. It costs $15,000 a year to recycle here, Huba said.
All donations collected and earmarked for electronic recycling will now be applied to the cost of operating the co-mingled recycling program, where they are set up to recycle plastics, colored glass, aluminum and metal cans and paper, magazines and cardboard.
“We have a lot of generous people who contribute,” she said. “Ligonier borough officials put up a fine box at the site for people to leave donations for the program.”
Huba said 500 tons of co-mingled recyclable material was hauled away last year.
The Ligonier site is the largest collection site in the region, she said. She was told by recycling officials that collections from the Ligonier site were larger that the collections in Orlando, Fla.
She said they are also considering a decal fundraiser. Donors will receive a window decal to show they support the local program.
McInchok Sanitation of Ligonier hauls the co-mingled recyclables to a transfer station in Scottdale. It is then taken to the Greenstar Recycling facility in Pittsburgh two times each week.
“People are throwing away electronics at an unbelievable rate in this area,” said John McInchok, who owns the sanitation company. “We are still hauling quite a few televisions in the last few weeks.”
McInchok said he will continue to haul the electronic items along with the co-mingled items until landfill officials say it can no longer be accepted.
“The benefit of the new law to me means less to haul away,” he said. “I won't have to worry about televisions and other electronic items any more.”McInchok has been serving the local area for 33 years and commends the recycling efforts of the local community.
“There are real good recyclers in Ligonier Valley,” he said.
Huba said the facility is also used by people from outside the Ligonier Valley.
“People come from all over because there is no other facility like this, if they have no curb side recycling offered,” she said.
She reminds that contributions from the community help keep the program continuing at no cost to the people.
“Some people think tax dollars funds the program, they do not,” said Huba. “The people's generosity keeps it here. And, we are already looking good for this year.”
As the recycling coordinator, Ellen Keefe, executive director at Westmoreland CleanWays, oversees the environmental stewardship program funded by the county.
“It is something good the government did for the environment,” Keefe said. “The law makes sense and does not put undo restrictions on anybody. It's a good thing.”
Keefe said the local watershed group has been a leader in the “e-cycling” movement from the beginning.
“Loyalhanna Watershed Association was first to have it (electronic recycling),” she said. “The whole concept of proper disposal of discarded electronic materials was part of the idea of keeping Ligonier Valley pristine.”
She said the Loyalhanna group was very active in cleaning up dump sites and got to the point where they were finding electronics and not just refrigerators.
“They saw the need for electronic recycling and had the space available at their garage. It opened possibilities for them and everything just came together,” she said. “For years it was the only place people could take electronics.”
Keefe anticipates hundreds of millions of televisions will to be disposed in next few years. She said people like how convenient it is going to be and the fact that there is no disposal charge to the consumer.
She said he purpose behind the law is to create disposal bans for TVs and monitors with high lead content but the result will also provide valuable commodities.
“Monitors and TVs are very full of lead. Circuit boards on computers have a lot of heavy metals in them plus valuable metals that can be reclaimed. It is a smart thing to do,” Keefe said. “The gold, silver, platinum and other precious metals will be smelted out and used again.”
Deborah A. Brehun is a staff editor for Trib Total Media. She can be reached at 724-238-2111 or firstname.lastname@example.org.