Newspaper article Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (Pittsburgh, PA)

Too Many Tvs, Too Little Capacity to Recycle Them

Newspaper article Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (Pittsburgh, PA)

Too Many Tvs, Too Little Capacity to Recycle Them

Article excerpt

At its most recent hard-to-recycle collection event in April, the Pennsylvania Resources Council took in 110,000 pounds of electronics in four hours. The bulk of that was made up of TV sets, which went to eLOOP, a recycler in Plum.

eLOOP started business in 2008, taking 35,000 pounds of covered electronic devices. Last year, it took in almost 12 million pounds, mostly TVs, which have a negative value to recyclers.

The tonnage of TV waste is far outpacing the capacity to recycle it, said Justin Stockdale, western regional director of the council. At the same time, Pennsylvania has only eight recycling companies certified to accept TVs for rebates from electronics manufacturers.

Mr. Stockdale and eLOOP's president, Ned Eldridge, are calling for revisions to the state's 2011 Pennsylvania Covered Device Recycling Act. They say the law is a sieve because it allows electronics manufacturers to set the duty for the recycling of their products below the true cost to recyclers.

They also have urged Allegheny County officials to find a permanent collection site to be open most days to provide the convenience that most consumers need to dispose of their electronic waste responsibly.

Demand has been growing for all hard-to-recycle drop-off events, which are held in various locales several times each year, but not even 1 percent of the area's population participates, Mr. Stockdale said.

Construction Junction, a nonprofit that sells used household and construction items, was one of eLoop's suppliers but will stop accepting electronic waste as of the end of June. Its executive director, Mike Gable, said the risk of injury to employees and the cost led to his decision, "which gives us pangs of guilt. But we're getting inundated."

Best Buy stores accept televisions as long as they are not consoles, the screens are less than 32 inches and they have no cracks. But the council regularly gets dozens of larger console televisions each time it holds collection events.

Amie Downs, spokesman for Allegheny County Executive Rich Fitzgerald, said the county and its agencies are discussing a solution with Mr. Stockdale, Mr. Eldridge and Mr. Gable.

"A permanent site is one of the conversations," she said, "but it depends on funding."

If you think television is full of worthless fodder when it functions, it's worse when it dies. The cathode ray tube and the glass contain lead. Fewer and fewer CRT TVs are available for purchase and are being discarded in favor of flat-screen TVs.

"Flat screens will be their own problem," Mr. Eldridge said, "but we're swamped by the problem of the day."

Twenty-five states have legislation prohibiting electronic waste from going into landfills. California was the first in 2003. …

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