Harrisburg doesn’t want your junk anymore.
The Dauphin County Commissioners on Wednesday announced that the county’s free electronics recycling program will be restricted to Dauphin residents and businesses to prevent a glut of outside returns from driving up costs.
“This board is committed to making it easy for our residents and businesses to recycling,” said Commissioner Mike Pries, who oversees the county’s Solid Waste Management and Recycling Department.
“State law does not require counties to have electronic recycling programs,” Pries said. “But we feel it is an important service to offer our communities and by restricting it to county residents and business, we can ensure our ability to keep the program running.”
Many area counties, such as Cumberland and Perry, do not collect electronics for recycling, Dauphin officials noted, while York County next week will resume its program after months of difficulties.
The result for Dauphin, which had welcomed residents from neighboring counties, was a 139 percent increase in pounds of e-cycling collected – 860,000 pounds between January and March 23 compared to 360,150 for the same time last year.
Under Dauphin County’s contract with Vintage Tech Recyclers, the county is limited to 2.5 million pounds of e-cycling annually, commissioners said, and that limit is likely to be reached by July if the county-only restriction is not imposed.
Imposing the limit is the only way to ensure the program “can continue being offered for free and uninterrupted” for Dauphin County residents and businesses, lawmakers said.
Recycling in context
Commissioner Chairman Jeff Haste said part of the problem is due to the declining value of commodities, which is making it more expensive for recycling operations nationwide.
“In our area, shredder scrap metal declined in price over the past year by 56 percent, from $8 per 100 pounds in January 2015 to $3.50 this month,” Haste said. “Other metals have declined by up to 40 percent, which makes it tougher for recycling operations to survive.’”
Commissioner George P. Hartwick III pointed out that state lawmakers are looking at the issue.
“Pennsylvania is one of 25 states with electronic recycling laws requiring manufacturers to pay into a fund that reimburses recycling operations,”’ Hartwick said. “It may be time to look at requiring more money from manufacturers to support recycling so that every county can have a program for its citizens.”
The other factor is Pennsylvania’s ban on televisions, desktop and laptop computers, computer monitors and computer peripherals in waste disposal facilities, which has put vendors at a financial disadvantage.
The state’s disposal ban took effect in 2013 under Act 108, the Covered Device Recycling Act.
What you need to know
About the Dauphin County Recycling Center:
• Location: 1625 South Cameron St., Harrisburg
• Hours: Monday-Friday, 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.; Saturdays, 9 a.m. – 2 p.m.
• Contact: 717-982-6772 or visit www.dauphincounty.org.