State mandate takes aim at electronic trash heap

The rapid rate of technological advancement has taken its toll on landfills – but not any longer.

Later this month, a state law kicks in to keep outdated televisions, computers and monitors out of the trash stream. As of Jan. 24, those items must by recycled by certified recycling facilities under state law, according to Jason Yorks, county resource recovery manager.

“It cannot be in the landfill,” he said, noting that in the six months since June, the county accepted 88 tons of electronics waste there.

That does not mean the county will not accept those items. Rather, they will be transferred to eLoop Inc., Pittsburgh, to recycle.

Residents still may drop off electronic devices at the county transfer station at 1475 W. Third St. and the county landfill in Montgomery, Yorks said. Electronic devices are not accepted at county recycling drop-off sites.

There is no charge for electronic devices to be collected at the transfer station or landfill, Yorks said.

Keystone Auctioneers, 1215 W. Southern Ave. in South Williamsport, also accepts electronic devices.

Under the act, waste haulers may not intentionally accept such electronic devices or comingle them with garbage, and landfills must make efforts to comply with the new regulations.

The act aims to keep millions of electronic components out of limited landfill space and preserve the environment from the items’ toxic materials.

Many of the devices contain harmful items such as lead, mercury, chromium and beryllium.

“There’s some stuff in there you don’t want to mess with,” Yorks said.

However, valuable metals such as gold, silver, copper, iron and aluminum can be harvested from the devices.

Yorks added that county drop-off recycling sites are accepting non-foil wrapping paper for the second year. Cardboard boxes, greeting cards and envelopes may be recycled at any of the county’s 25 municipal recycling drop-off locations.

The paper – along with boxes from toys, gadgets and gizmos that were left under Christmas trees – becomes part of compressed bales of what Yorks calls low-grade fiber that’s sold to materials brokers in the Northeast. Those brokers then sell the paper to various manufacturers.

Yorks said those with questions on electronics recycling can call the county resource recovery facility at 800-736-7559 or Keystone Auctioneers at 329-1005.