TV isn’t what it used to be.
Sleek flat screen sets have Americans relegating their bulky old-fashioned televisions to the scrap heap, and that trend was abundantly clear Tuesday as the York County Solid Waste Authority’s new residential electronics program got off to a running start.
“We had 143 vehicles participate and brought in the equivalent of about half a tractor trailer load of electronics,” said Ellen O’Connor, spokeswoman for the Manchester Township-based authority.
Most of that haul consisted of large cathode ray TVs, O’Connor said.
By the time Tuesday’s three-and-a-half hour collection was over, workers found they were just eight pallets short of a full tractor-trailer load of material, she added.
That didn’t surprise O’Connor, who expected a strong turnout for the re-launch of e-recycling after an absence of several months.
A bumpy ride
The authority announced in December that it was suspending collection of electronic waste because it was unable to find a contractor willing to take televisions, computer monitors and other items for recycling under its program, which collected devices two Saturdays each month.
That move came after the county’s existing vendor declined to continue the program and a replacement contractor also backed away.
The apparent problem? Vendors operated at a financial disadvantage due to falling commodity prices, combined with the state’s ban on televisions, desktop and laptop computers, computer monitors and computer peripherals in waste disposal facilities.
Certain items, notably televisions and computer monitors, became increasingly expensive to dispose of, and even retailer Best Buy decided to stop accepting them in Pennsylvania.
The authority’s new contract, with electronics recycling vendor ECOvanta, lasts until Dec. 31. Officials are pursuing alternatives for 2017, O’Connor said.
Collections will take place three days a week at the authority’s yard waste facility off Flour Mill Road in Manchester Township.
The plan is for items to be shrink-wrapped, gathered on pallets and stored in the building there until a full trailer load is collected. ECOvanta officials will then haul the items away to a processing center in the Philadelphia area, where they are broken down to separate salvageable materials from plastic and other components which are shredded and recycled.
Based on Tuesday’s collection, it shouldn’t take long before ECOvanta has at least one full trailer.
O’Connor said the pent-up demand was especially strong in part because suspension of the previous program came not long before Christmas, when many families upgraded to new electronic devices, making their old ones surplus.
Twelve workers, most of them temporary or outside labor, were kept busy Tuesday helping residents unload TVs, computer monitors and other gadgets from cars and trucks, then stacking the goods neatly on pallets before sheathing them in shimmering shrink wrap.
While free to residents, the program is not free for the authority, which has budgeted up to $100,000 for it this year, O’Connor said.
That, she said, is preferable to the alternative: frustrated residents unloading their cast-offs at illegal dump sites.
Fast Facts: York e-recycling
• The program is free and open to York County residents only.
• It will be conducted from 3-6:30 p.m. on Tuesdays, Wednesdays and Thursdays at the authority’s yard waste site, located off Flour Mill Road in Manchester Township.
• Saturday events will no longer be conducted at the yard waste site.
• “Covered devices” such as televisions, desktop and laptop computers, computer monitors and computer peripherals (anything that connects to a computer such as a mouse, keyboard, printer, etc.) will be accepted under the program.
• Also accepted will be cell phones, vacuum cleaners, alarm clocks, irons and coffee makers or anything with a plug that does not contain Freons (such as refrigerators, freezers, air conditioners and dehumidifiers).
• York County organizations, schools and businesses that wish to recycle electronic devices may contact electronics recycling vendors directly. A list of recycling vendors can be found at www.ycswa.com.
• Penn and Fairview townships will also be conducting electronics recycling collection, with both accepting devices from all York County residents. They will offer weekday and Saturday collection hours.
For information on their programs, call Penn Township at 717-637-1561 or Fairview Township at 717-901-5200.