The Tribune Democrat, Johnstown, PA

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January 5, 2013

Law limits how gadgets are trashed

JOHNSTOWN — Christmas traditionally puts the year’s newest high-tech gadgets into homes. And it usually leaves yesterday’s must-haves outside, sitting on the curb for trash day.

Not for much longer, though.

The state’s Covered Device Recycling Act becomes law Jan. 24, making it illegal to throw away most old electronics with the trash.

The effort is aimed at reducing the amount of toxic materials that leach into groundwater.

“The goal here is to take these products out of the waste stream,” said Lisa Kasianowitz, a DEP spokeswoman, noting that many products contain harmful lead, cadmium and mercury. “Items like computers and laptops aren’t biodegradable, so this is an important step.”

But the years-in-the-making effort won’t leave Pennsylvania residents stuck with their old electronics, state officials say.

There are a growing number of options for electronics recycling, including taking the gadgets to retailers, nonprofits and the county’s Solid Waste Authority, Kasianowitz said. In most cases, items are taken free of charge.

Local government

In Cambria County, the Solid Waste Authority accepts many old electronics at its Manor Drive, Ebensburg, location during daily business hours, the authority’s website shows.

Residents can call 472-2109 for more details on the program.

Somerset County residents can take items to JVS Environmental in Shanksville or Ridge Church Outreach, Somerset.

Retail chains

Best Buy touts its program as the “most comprehensive” available.

Originally started in 2008, the company accepts a long list of electronics: Cameras, computers, GPS units and video players.

“Whether it’s old keyboards or 8-track players that have been sitting for years in basements, we’ll take it,” spokeswoman Maggie Habashy said, adding that the devices are accepted at no charge.

Best Buy collects 387 pounds of old electronics at its kiosks for every minute its stores are open, she added.

Staples also offers a free recycling program for office and computer components, its website shows.

Best Buy has added a trade-in program, offering gift cards for many working, newer items such as iPods and cameras.

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