Pennsylvania residents can no longer dispose of electronic equipment through regular garbage pickups. Under a law that took effect January 24, landfills are no longer allowed to accept televisions, computers, printers, and similar electronic devises.
Manufacturers Must Act
In addition to blocking landfills from accepting electronics equipment, the Covered Device Recycling Act requires electronics manufacturers to develop and finance plans to collect, transport, and recycle electronic goods.
Electronics manufacturers are required to register with the state Department of Environmental Protection and pay a registration fee of $5,000. They are also required to develop plans to recycle their covered devices sold in the state and provide consumers with information for recycling the devices they purchase. Manufacturers will have to file annual reports on their efforts.
Environmental, Economic Issues
Rep. Chris Ross (R-Chester) says the new law makes economic sense and will provide important environmental benefits.
“Computers and televisions contain elements that can become toxic when they break down in landfills, where they also take up valuable space,” said Ross. “These devices can be profitably broken down and recycled, as long as they can be collected and transported to recyclers. Pennsylvania’s Covered Electronic Recycling Act is designed to allow the private sector maximum flexibility in getting devices to the recyclers, and we are already seeing new jobs created because of the Act.”
Others wonder whether the asserted economic benefits really exist. After all, if recycling were profitable, government wouldn’t have to force people to recycle, nor would government have to force electronics manufacturers to invest in recycling programs.
In any case, the recycling is likely to be an expensive undertaking.
“Regardless of whether its elements are valuable or potentially hazardous, handling and recovery of e-waste can be a costly undertaking,” U.S. Chamber of Commerce vice president William Kovacs explained in a previous article published in Environment & Climate News.
Alyssa Carducci ([email protected]) writes from Tampa, Florida.
Kovacs, William L., “E-Waste Management Presents Challenges, Opportunies,” Environment & Climate News, http://news.heartland.org/newspaper-article/2006/08/01/e-waste-management-presents-challenges-opportunities