A Dozen Things to Know About the Covered Device Recycling Act

–APRIL 2016 UPDATE—
With recent DEP policy changes, PRC is now able to accept televisions at all Hard-to-Recycle Collection Events beginning with the May 14th, 2016 Event. Find more information here.

As the Covered Device Recycling Act of 2010 (Act 108) heads into its third full year of implementation, it has become apparent that the law has several big limitations.  PRC has been able to work with legislators and regulators to allow residents to recycle their televisions and monitors for a fee at all Hard to Recycle Collection Events beginning May 14th, 2016. However, this is a stop-gap solution and we are continuing to work to find a more permanent solution.

1. The Law Affects 100% But Only Serves 25%

Since 2013, PA’s Covered Device Recycling Act has made it illegal for every Pennsylvanian to send a TV to a landfill, yet only 25% of residents currently have access to free recycling of their televisions. Click here for a list of all manufacturer collection sites published by the PA Department of Environmental Protection (NOT ALL SITES ACCEPT TV’S – CALL FIRST)

2. If It’s Not Your Concern Today, It Will Be Soon

TV makers assume a 5-to-7-year replacement cycle for televisions, according to the Consumer Technology Association.  So if you don’t need to dispose of a TV this year, you’re bound to face the dilemma in the near future.

3. TVs Account For 74% of E-Waste Collected at PRC EventsPW8GgEx

In 2015, PRC collected 500,000 pounds of e-waste at 6 collection events – with TVs representing 74% of the 250 tons of material dropped off by 3,500 households.

4. Demand is Growing; Volume of TVs Doubled in 2 Years

The volume of TVs dropped off at PRC e-waste collections has doubled in the past 2 years:  250 tons of e-waste collected in 2015 vs. 125 tons collected in 2013.  During the first 11 years of PRC’s collection program, it collected a total of 1 million pounds of electronics – but it collected ½ million pounds in 2015 alone!

5. Recyclers Bear the Brunt of Expense

While PA is 1 of 25 states with legislation to keep e-waste out of landfills, PA is 1 of only 5 states where the law has caused recyclers to bear the brunt of expense.  Recyclers say the per-pound fees they receive from manufacturers to collect electronics on their behalf are flat and the prices of selling metals and other parts have declined.

6. Formula for Quota is Unrealistic

The law specifies that each electronics manufacturer must collect for recycling an amount of electronics whose weight is equal to what it sold in the state two years earlier.  Experts point out that old electronics are much heavier than products manufacturers sold two years ago, setting the law’s weight requirements too low.  (i.e. a cathode-ray tube TV produced a decade ago is now ready for disposal but the weight formula accounts for a much lighter flatscreen TV produced two years ago)

7. The Environment is at Risk

Televisions are more expensive to recycle because only a few companies worldwide take the glass from lead-based cathode-ray tubes in old models and computer monitors.  Estimates show 77 million CRT televisions are being stockpiled in U.S. homes, pointing to a need to responsibly recycle 269,000 tons of lead (average of 7 pounds of lead per TV).

8. Law Has Not Resulted in A Dependable Infrastructure

Act 108 required the manufacturers of TVs and computers to pay the costs of providing residents with free and convenient recycling alternatives. But the law has not led to the creation of a dependable, statewide infrastructure for local governments, collectors and recyclers to provide recycling services continually, according to a 2015 DEP report presented to the PA General Assembly.  This failure is the direct result of manufacturers underfunding the cost of recycling.

9. Disposal Options are Quickly Shrinking

Best Buy, which began offering free electronics recycling in 2009, stopped taking TVs and computer monitors in Pennsylvania in February 2016.  Construction Junction and Goodwill have suspended TV recycling, and of Allegheny County’s 130 municipalities, only 35 offer electronics recycling through their waste haulers.

10. Catch-22 – Many Accepting “Working Televisions Only”HTR - TV image

While most residents are seeking disposal options for TVs that are no longer in working condition, individuals must investigate limitations.  In 5 southeastern PA counties, only 21% of manufacturer collection locations will accept non-working TVs with no restrictions.

11. PRC is Committed to “E-Stewards” Certification

The electronics recycling industry has the potential to do great harm to the environment and people.  Irresponsible recyclers have been caught shipping these hazardous materials to Third World nations that are unable to regulate their handling.  As a result, rigorous third-party certification programs have been developed to ensure people and the environment are protected from these risks.  PRC is committed to working only with recyclers who meet the strict requirements of the eStewards certification.  While other certification standards exist, only eStewards ensures both people AND the environment are protected.

12. Residents Must Speak Up to Ask Legislature To Amend “Act 108”

Contact your state senator and representative asap to tell them to support an amendment to the law that ensures all residents of PA have convenient and free access to recycling their TVs.

It’s time to speak up regarding the need for convenient TV recycling options.

PRC will continue to aggressively pursue a solution to this crisis by working with the PA legislature, manufacturers, recyclers, our partners and YOU!  As supporters and users of PRC programs, your voice is critical in guaranteeing that we improve the CDRA to ensure that consumers have free and convenient access to safe and responsible outlets for their old electronics.

Make your voice heard by calling, emailing or writing your state legislators to ask them to support a lasting amendment to the CDRA that secures a permanent solution for the end of life management of old electronics, especially TVs. Use this link to find your legislator and find a sample message below to send to your State Senator and State Representative.

Sample Message to State Legislators

As a resident of Pennsylvania, I am concerned about the lack of free and convenient recycling options for responsibly disposing of televisions and other e-waste. I ask the Pennsylvania Legislature to pass an amendment to Act 108 (Covered Device Recycling Act) to provide free e-waste recycling for all residents of the Commonwealth. Please support this vital piece of legislation.