State law requiring recycling of electronic devices takes effect in Jan.

  • By Andy McNeil December 3, 2012

Those lucky enough to find a new television, computer or tablet under the Christmas tree this year should take note that a state law requiring them to recycle old, unwanted electronic devices will begin in January.

The Covered Device Recycling Act, which was enacted in 2010 and will take effect Jan. 24, requires consumers to keep their misfit electronics out of the trash. Instead, devices will have to be recycled through a county electronic recycling program, a manufacturer mail-in or a special collection event, according to a state Department of Environmental Protection news release. Electronics deemed as “covered devices” are televisions, desktop and laptop computers, monitors, and computer peripherals such as keyboards and printers. Cellphones are exempt, but tablet devices such as iPads and Kindles fall under the law.

“Proper recycling is important because there are millions and millions of devices; they have a limited useful life span; and they contain heavy metals such as lead, cadmium and mercury as well as other materials that do not belong in the normal trash stream,” state DEP Secretary Mike Krancer said in a news release.

According to the DEP, many electronic devices also contain metals such as gold, silver, platinum, copper, iron and aluminum that can be separated and reused.

In anticipation of the changes, garbage industry giant Waste Management announced it would stop picking up televisions and computer equipment in Pennsylvania municipalities effective Jan. 1, said spokesman John Hambrose. Trash haulers will be able to take electronics only if the municipality has a curbside electronic collection program.

Under the new law, electronics manufacturers – not municipalities – bear the responsibility of figuring out how to implement programs to collect, transport and recycle covered devices. The DEP states that haulers collecting for a manufacturer or its program are not permitted to pass this charge on to the consumer.

Electronics makers also will have to submit an annual report to the DEP detailing the total weight of devices sold in Pennsylvania for the past year as well as the amount sold nationally in the past two years. Manufacturers that collect less than the amount called for in their plans will pay a penalty.

While counties are not directly responsible, they are expected to work with trash haulers and municipalities to provide adequate recycling coverage. Folks in areas without a program can take electronics to Goodwill, the Salvation Army and Best Buy for recycling.

For more information, visit and select “electronics recycling” from the menu of programs or call the DEP’s recycling hotline at 1-800-346-4242.

Andy McNeil has been with the Observer-Reporter since 2011 as a general assignment reporter. He covers courts and education, and also serves as a photographer and videographer. He graduated from Pennsylvania State University, The Behrend College, with a degree in English; Duquense University with a post-baccalaureate paralegal certificate, and Point Park University with a graduate degree in journalism and mass communication.


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