DEP: ‘Tis the Season to Recycle Unwanted Electronics

Dec 25, 2013

Televisions, computers and smartphones are popular gifts during the holidays, but what should you do with your old electronics?

The PA Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) wants to remind Pennsylvanians they must recycle unwanted electronics.

According to the DEP, electronics that are thrown away usually end up in landfills and create an environmental hazard.

“They contain metals that can be dangerous if they get into the ground water, metals like lead and cadmium,” said DEP spokesman John Poister. “So we want to do our very best to limit that danger to the environment.”

According to Poister, it is important to recycle even small electronics.

“Anything that has an electronic circuit board should not be thrown away, even an iPod, smartphone,” Poister said. “All those should be recycled.”

Pennsylvania’s Covered Device Recycling Act took effect last January to force the issue.

The law requires residents and small businesses to recycle TVs, desktop and laptop computers, tablets, computer monitors and printers.

It also requires manufacturers to develop systems to recycle certain electronics.

“What this means is that people can go to some electronic retailers and actually take their old TVs or their old computers and know that they’ll be properly recycled,” Poister said. “And this service is done for free, you don’t have to pay anything to get it done.”

Companies such as Best Buy and Staples and non-profits such as Goodwill and Salvation Army will recycle electronics at no cost.

“The waste haulers in Pennsylvania have been told that they cannot collect these and so often they will just leave them, they’ll collect the trash that you put out at the curb but they won’t take the TV,” Poister said. “And what ends up happening is a lot of people then will try to dump this along the roadside or something like that, which is even worse, and compounds the problem.”

Poister encouraged people to call the Recycling Hotline at 1-800-346-4242 to see the options near them.