Consumer Electronics Recycling

April 25, 2017

Cumberland County Developing Permanent Electronics Recycling Center

County Efforts

The Cumberland County Commissioners have approved the development and operation of a permanent electronics recycling center with plans to open in summer 2017.  Earlier this year, the Commissioners selected Sunnking, Inc., Brockport, NY, from amongst four recyclers that submitted proposals to transport and recycle electronics collected by the County.  Unfortunately, none of the proposals were backed by equipment manufacturer funding as Pennsylvania’s electronics recycling law had intended to provide.

As a result, the County will charge customers $.50 per pound of electronics recycled. The fee will offset the County’s costs for collecting, packaging, loading, shipping and recycling electronics and does not generate a profit. Customers will NOT be able to recycle electronics for free. Anyone regardless of place of residence will be able to use the recycling center assuming fees are paid in full. Acceptable materials include:

  • Televisions
  • Computers & Accessories
  • Mobile Devices
  • Entertainment Equipment
  • Office Equipment
  • Data Center Equipment
  • Cable Equipment

The facility will be located on County property off Claremont Road in Carlisle.  The current plan is for the facility to be open two days per week and at least two Saturdays per month to start with hours running from late afternoon to early evening during the week and during the morning on the selected Saturdays. Final operating hours and procedures will be announced as the site nears opening.   In the meantime, County personnel are busy making the necessary infrastructure improvements to operate such a facility, including renovating an old storage building and installing a portable office trailer and computerized scale system, as well as developing the site’s operational procedures.

State Problem

State legislation passed in 2010 implemented a disposal ban on televisions and various types of electronic equipment. The law required manufacturers to pay for the costs of electronics recycling to avoid consumers bearing that cost. However, the demand for electronics recycling has far outpaced the capacity of existing disposal outlets and has exceeded the amount of recycled material that manufacturers are required to recycle by law. Further, declining commodity markets have discouraged recyclers from pursuing electronics recycling contracts. As a result, many residents in various parts of the state, including Cumberland County, do not have access to recycling outlets for all of the electronics covered by the law.

While the County's recycling facility will provide a stopgap measure to address the electronics recycling issue, a comprehensive electronics legislative solution is still needed.  The County has been working with its General Assembly delegation to identify the shortfalls of the existing legislation and develop long term sustainable electronics recycling solutions.  If you have questions regarding the recycling facility, please contact the County's Recycling & Waste Authority at 717.240.6489.

History

Cumberland County was one of the first governmental agencies in Pennsylvania to offer a consumer electronics recycling program. The program, which began in 2001, consisted of drop-off events where residents could bring their consumer electronics for recycling. The historical results of that program are presented below.
Details of the Law and Related Struggles

Pennsylvania passed the Covered Device Recycling Act (Act 108) in 2010, which required manufacturers to provide recycling programs for desktop computers, laptop computers, computer monitors, computer peripherals and televisions sold to consumers in Pennsylvania beginning in January 2012. Act 108 also states that, beginning January 24, 2013, desktop computers, laptop computers, computer monitors, computer peripherals, televisions, and any components of such devices may no longer be disposed in Pennsylvania with municipal waste. All of these devices are required to be properly recycled.
Act 108 is an Extended Producer Responsibility (EPR) law.  EPR laws are designed to shift financial and management responsibility upstream to the manufacturer and away from the public sector.  Unfortunately, Act 108 has produced a number of unintended consequences that threaten to undermine the very purpose the act hoped to serve. Bottom line, it has become more effective in many cases for electronics scrap recyclers to decrease services to stabilize revenue rather than expand business to Pennsylvania citizens. Click here for a full explanation of the factors which have led to this outcome.

If you are frustrated by the lack of free and convenient recycling opportunities for all types of covered devices, contact your local representative and senator.  Please visit ewastepa.org for suggested talking points.
 
Visit our Specialized Items web page for possible other consumer electronics recycling opportunities.  Please call to confirm given the rapidly changing landscape. 
 

Consumer Electronics Recycling Program Historical Data


Year
Number of Vehicles
Tons Collected
2001 1150 79.76
2002 760 49.63
2003 976 58.34
2004 1678 105.83
2005 1865 116.84
2006 1506 112.01
2008 1283 84.37
2009 1416 86.58
2015 950  75.94
Totals
11,584 769.29