New Recycling Law in Pennsylvania

By Dan Gallo, EPA Region 3

If you live in Pennsylvania, important changes have taken place on how you dispose of electronics equipment. As of January 24, 2013 Pennsylvania residents can no longer put electronics like televisions, stereos and computers out with their regular trash.

So, what are you supposed to do? Well, there are outlets for finding new homes for your electronics that focus on donating them or taking them to retailers who will help with recycling.

Under Pennsylvania’s Covered Device Recycling Act, manufacturers and retailers of electronics sold in Pennsylvania must conduct recycling programs. For example, if you take your electronics to Best Buy they will send them to a certified electronics recycler, and depending on the condition, the item will be refurbished or repaired, reused, or recycled for parts and materials.

Other retailers also offer take-back services, and most Goodwill locations will accept your old electronics. For other resources, check out EPA’s Electronics Donation and Recycling page or the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection’s Electronics Collection Programs page.

Besides saving materials, recycling of electronics also saves energy because it takes huge amounts of energy to extract the resources needed to produce the plastics, precious metals and rare earth elements that are used in electronics. Recycling one million laptops saves enough energy to power 3,657 homes for an entire year! Collecting one metric ton of circuit boards from old computers can recover 40 to 800 times the amount of gold and 30 to 40 times the amount of copper mined from one metric ton of ore.

Donating your electronics can also help the needy. So, even if you don’t live in Pennsylvania, consider donating your electronics for reuse and recycling to help others and help to save the planet too.

About the author: Dan Gallo has been working for EPA since 1989 and has served as the Electronics Recycling Coordinator for the Mid-Atlantic Region since 2007. Previously, Dan worked for 11 years as the Enforcement Coordinator for the Lead-Based Paint Program. Dan has a Masters Degree in Public Administration and also a Juris Doctorate. Interested in green buildings, he has earned certification as a Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) Accredited Professional. Dan also helped to found a local homeless family transition program that he supports.