ShareThis Page

Year-old state law makes recycling electronics a bit trickier

| Tuesday, Dec. 24, 2013, 7:05 a.m.
Eric Slagle | Daily News
Evolution E-Cycling disassembles some electronic devices for reuse and scraps others for their raw materials. Seen here is a pile of power supplies that were removed from computers.
Eric Slagle | Daily News
Aaron Dehart pulls a shrink-wrapped and ready to be scrapped pile of discarded televisions through the Evolution E-Cycling warehouse on Pittsburgh’s Southside.

Finding a new computer, television, game console or cellular gadget under the tree on Christmas morning may be a thrill.

There's a protocol in place that typically is followed: remove device from overwrapped packaging, puzzle through the scant instructions provided, and, finally — if you're lucky — turn on and start enjoying the new electronic toy.

Soon, however, a question arises — what to do with the old computer, television, game console or cellular gadget?

Unfortunately, the protocol for disposing of old electronic wares is a little iffy. A state law enacted this year prohibits trash collectors from taking such waste to landfills. The problem of what to do with electronic waste was compounded somewhat last summer when one major collector, Goodwill Industries, ceased taking old TVs because of capacity issues.

“Nobody wants TVs,” said West Mifflin borough manager Brian Kamauf, who is trying to find a waste collector to pick up old electronic wares on a regular basis. The borough, like many communities, has seen an increase in the number of old TV sets cast out in alleys or along roadsides and, as Kamauf noted, “That's something municipalities don't want to see.”

But while electronic waste remains a problem for municipalities, there are measures individuals can take to assure that old gadgets find their way into the recycling stream.

A list of recycling options is a just a Google search away.

Retailers such as Best Buy will accept many electronic wastes, including TVs up to a certain size. A portion of Best Buy's website is dedicated to recycling, which lists state-by-state what items local stores can and cannot collect.

In Pennsylvania, Best Buy will accept televisions with tube screens 32 inches and smaller. It will not accept console-type sets, nor will it take flat panel, LED, LCD and plasma sets with screens larger than 60 inches.

Guardian Storage at the Waterfront accepts electronic waste, including TVs. A representative said the facility will take nonconsole sets with screens up to 36 inches during regular business hours.

When seeking a business that accepts recyclables, it's best to call first. Many will not accept air conditioning units and refrigerators because they contain Freon gas.

Items collected at Guardian, which can be contacted at 412-464-7233, are taken to Evolution E-Cycling on Pittsburgh's South Side.

Evolution uses a variety of methods. It refurbishes and resells some items, dismantles and sells component parts in other instances, and, as is the case for most televisions, sells products for scrap.

Business manager Aaron Dehart said it was the older, heavy television sets that created waste management problems. On older sets, he noted, “Some of the glass is an inch thick.” Heavy cabinets and component parts made the disposal of old sets difficult and reduced their value as recyclable goods.

Today the material cost and weight of a television is much less than it used to be, but many older models remain in circulation. Evolution E-Cycling receives them by the truckload, along with other waste. Most TVs are shrink-wrapped in plastic and sent to recyclers who harvest the sets for their material value.

Evolution E-Cycling accepts almost all sizes and types of TVs, including console sets, for free at its location at 2235 Mary Street. The company offers home pickup service for a fee.

Evolution E-Cycling co-founder Jacob Metz said people should make sure recycling outfits comply with R2 responsible practices and are ISO 14001 certified. His company is both, and has Occupational Safety and Health Administration certification, indicating employees have been properly trained to safely handle materials.

The company complies with mandated data security measures and will physically destroy computer hard drives upon request. It is the means of electronically wiping stored data from hard drives.

Information about Evolution E-Cycling is available by calling 412-606-5215, or online at

Eric Slagle is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at 412-664-9161 ext. 1966, or

TribLIVE commenting policy

You are solely responsible for your comments and by using you agree to our Terms of Service.

We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.

While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.

We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers

We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.

We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.

We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.

We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.