Goodwill won’t accept TVs

July 10, 2013
The Goodwill store in downtown Washington will no longer be accepting donations of television sets because of the lack of demand. - Emily Harger / Observer-Reporter Order a Print

Getting rid of an old tube television has always been as easy as a trip to the local Goodwill, but that convenience will come to an end Sunday. Goodwill Industries of Southwestern Pennsylvania announced it will no longer accept televisions because of the overwhelming number of donations it has received since a Pennsylvania law made it illegal to dump them in landfills.

Under the state’s Covered Device Recycling Act, which took effect in January, consumers must properly recycle televisions and other electronics. Last year, Goodwill recycled about 700,000 pounds of televisions, according to David Tobiczyk, vice president of marketing and development.

In just the first six months of this year, Goodwill exceeded its 1.5 million-pound limit set by its recycling company for 2013.

That large amount is due, in part, to the fact that more people than ever before are replacing their big, boxy televisions with flat screens, Tobiczyk said.

Goodwill is looking for a recycler that will take its backlog of televisions at no cost. Otherwise, the charitable organization would have to pay $125,000 to continue recycling through its current company, according to a press release.

“Using that money to recycle televisions is not the best use of our dollars,” Tobiczyk said.

The Goodwill store on Jefferson Avenue in Washington sells about three or four television sets for every dozen it receives each week, according to Tobiczyk. The rest, which never make it to the sales floor because they are in disrepair, are shipped off to be recycled.

“The market for the televisions that we get is next to nothing anymore because we get older versions,” Tobiczyk said. “It’s just not something that people buy in our stores.”

However, Tobiczyk said Goodwill could make a new agreement with the company’s recycler for next year that would allow the company to begin accepting televisions again.

Washington City Mission will continue to accept all electronics, but it might begin charging a fee for each donated television. The cost of picking up televisions is getting too expensive, according to Jerry Oxford, director of business enterprises.

And after hearing that Goodwill would no longer be accepting televisions, Oxford said, “We’re going to get inundated with them.”

City Mission receives about five or six televisions a day, and whatever can’t be sold at its Hidden Treasures store is shipped off to a recycler in central Pennsylvania.

David Mazza, regional director of the Pennsylvania Resources Council in Pittsburgh, said there are several other options for donating or recycling televisions, such as taking them back to the big box retailers where they were originally purchased, like Best Buy and Sears. He also advised residents to check for e-waste collection events in their municipality.

Since the landfill ban did not take effect until January, even though the legislation passed in 2010, Mazza said there has been “a lot of materials coming into the market.”

Although recyclers are catching up with the influx of televisions and other electronics, Mazza advised that, “Consumers should not panic at this point. There will be options that will continue to be out there.”

Emily Petsko joined the Observer-Reporter as a staff writer in June 2013. She graduated from Point Park University with a dual bachelor's degree in journalism and global cultural studies.

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