State House Sound Bites

Capitol reporter Katie Meyer covers Pennsylvania politics and issues at the Pennsylvania state capitol.
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New state law requires a greener approach to scrapping electronics

Written by Mary Wilson, Former Capitol Bureau Chief | Dec 28, 2012 10:38 PM

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It used to be that electronics could be put out with the rest of the trash. Computers, TVs, and things like hard drives and keyboards could all be sent to the curb for regular waste pick-up.

“That has been allowable – not desirable, but allowable,” said Jack Himes, with the Pennsylvania Recycling Markets Center.

Not for long. A new ban on putting old electronics out with the rest of the trash goes into effect late next month.

Starting January 24, such devices will have to be recycled.

Himes said there are plenty of materials to mine from unwanted electronics – like plastic, aluminum, copper, steel.

“Many connectors in electronic equipment are plated with gold which certainly has a high value today,” said Himes. “So any modern computer that gets recycled probably has some amount of gold in it that, if properly recycled, can have value, and it’s sought after for that reason.”

There’s no penalty on private citizens for failing to recycle old electronics – only on manufacturers who don’t set up free recycling programs. Certain stores will take old electronics and send them to recyclers.

“Many large stores, for example, Best Buy, they routinely accept electronic items like TV sets and computers that customers can just drop off at the store,” said Himes.

A list of counties that host drop-off events is on the state Department of Environmental Protection website.

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