Throwing a computer out for curbside pickup might be irresponsible on Jan. 23, but it'll be criminal on Jan. 24.
That's the day new state rules for recycling electronic devices take effect.
The state's Department of Environmental Protection is advising consumers and businesses about changes under the Pennsylvania Covered Device Recycling Act of 2010. Come Jan. 24, it will be illegal to dispose of covered devices, such as computers, laptops, monitors and televisions, in the trash.
Disposal: People who want to dispose of the devices may continue to donate them to charities or recycle them, said Lisa Kasianowitz, DEP spokeswoman. But trash haulers will be prohibited from accepting the devices into the traditional stream of trash, she said. Cellphones are excluded.
Kasianowitz said many consumers have already been recycling the devices through business programs or county recycling programs. They're being barred from the trash because they contain heavy metals such as lead, cadmium and mercury that can harm the environment.
"Businesses are already responsible," she said. "I doubt they're putting 50 computers in the trash. But some are still getting into the trash."
She said the DEP is giving consumers "ample amount of time to comply with the law, so there won't be a rushed feeling."
The law also requires covered-device manufacturers to register with the DEP and submit a plan for recycling in Pennsylvania, she said.
"It's not just the consumers that have to comply, but also manufacturers and businesses and trash haulers," she said. "If someone places a computer in the trash, it's not to be taken."
Popular program: The York County Solid Waste Authority facility on Flour Mill Road in Manchester Township is one of three sites in the county approved for recycling the devices.
Spokeswoman Ellen O'Connor said the free electronic devices recycling program there is very popular for businesses and residents, and it has grown in popularity every year since it started in 2009.
Between 2010 and 2011, recycling numbers increased 20 percent, she said. Between July 1, 2010, and June 30, 2011, there were 2,337 visitors who dropped off items, averaging 102 pounds per visitor.
The authority saw a need for the service before the government mandated it, O'Connor said.
"There was a clamoring for it," she said. "We thought it was the right thing to do. We look at the amount of electronic junk that people generate ... the turnover for that material is immense."
The new law will make the service even more popular, she said.
Where to go
York County recycling sites:
---The York County Solid Waste Authority offers electronics recycling every third Saturday from 9 a.m. until 1 p.m. at the Yard Waste Transfer Facility on Flour Mill Road in Manchester Township. For information, call the authority at 845-1066.
---Fairview Township accepts electronics recycling from all York County residents and businesses every other Saturday at the Fairview Township Recycling Center, 100 Sewered Road, New Cumberland. Call 901-5200 for information.
---Penn Township's electronics recycling for all York County residents and businesses is conducted every Saturday at the Penn Township Recycling Drop-off Center on Heights Avenue next to the township building in Hanover. Call 632-7366 for information.
-- Reach Christina Kauffman at email@example.com.