Year-old state law makes recycling electronics a bit trickier
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 www.evolutionecycling.com.
Eric Slagle is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at 412-664-9161 ext. 1966, or firstname.lastname@example.org.