EDITORIAL: Recycling e-cycling

York Dispatch
  • York County's electronics recycling program is back
  • Many other counties in the state have stopped taking in old electronics to be recycled

It's time to recycle electronics like there's no tomorrow.

Computer tech Mike Gaffney builds a new gaming computer at Alliance Computers, 984 Loucks Road, Monday, Dec. 21,2015. Alliance Computers accepts electronics for recycling at no charge to the customer except for CRT computer monitors ($4) and large TV's ($10). (John A. Pavoncello - The York Dispatch)

York County residents who have old TVs, computer monitors and other electronic equipment have until the end of the year to drop them off at the York County Solid Waste and Refuse Authority.

No one will buy the items or even take them away to use as parts. They can't be thrown away thanks to the Covered Device Recycling Act, which says most household electronics cannot go to a landfill and must be recycled. Retailers that ran recycling programs became overwhelmed and quit. As oil prices dropped and the old devices started to pile up, recycling companies discovered they were spending more money taking the tablets and monitors apart than they made off the parts, and they stopped collecting the bulky items.

Electronics recycling coming back in York County

So when York County suspended its electronics recycling program in December, law-abiding citizens were left with little alternative besides letting old TVs and computers gather dust in corners, garages, attics and basements. And there are those who have taken to dumping the old devices filled with lead and other toxic materials in a ditch or in the woods.

"When it snowed earlier this year, people were talking about putting their old electronics in the streets to save their parking spots in hope that the city would come through and take them," York City resident Jess Ensminger said.

York County e-recycling start date announced

But now the program is back.

Starting April 5, York County residents will be able to load up their old electronics and drop them off at the solid waste authority's yard waste site off Flour Mill Road every Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday.

But don't wait. The new contract with Philadelphia-based ECOvanta to recycle the e-scrap expires at the end of the year, and there's no guarantee it will be renewed.

Meanwhile, York County isn't the only county in Pennsylvania having trouble with its e-cycling. Counties across the state, from Chester to Allegheny, have stopped their e-cycling collections. In northern Pennsylvania, Elk County is the only one of seven counties that offers electronics recycling, according to the Pocono Record. The Pennsylvania Resources Council has stopped its Hard to Recycle collections in eastern Pennsylvania, and western collections might soon suffer the same fate.

That's why state Rep. Chris Ross, R-Chester County, who wrote the original Covered Device Recycling Act in 2010, is ready to amend it. The change would have manufacturers take on a share of the cost of recycling the devices, since the recycling itself is no longer a paying gig.

We have to wonder if there could be a state program to help counties with this dilemma in the meantime, either by giving residents whose counties have given up on e-cycling a central place to drop off their devices or by giving counties grants to continue their programs with private recyclers.

For now, anyway, York countians can clear out those old electronics for free. So grab that old TV and haul it off to be recycled before it's too late.

And while you're in the recycling frame of mind, get rid of any old tires you have around by also dropping them off. Residents can call the authority through May 20 and get a placard to drop off up to 10 tires for free.