New law requires computers, TVs to be recycled

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PITTSBURGH - A new law makes it illegal to toss old computers and TVs in the trash -- as of Jan. 24, they must be recycled.

Consumer investigator Robin Taylor found out how to get rid of electronics safely.

The new law applies to computers, laptops, monitors, computer equipment and TVs. If you set them by the curb, trash collectors won't pick them up, because, by law, they have to be recycled.

There's a good reason for the law. Electronic equipment contains heavy metals that can get into our drinking water.

Evolution E-Cycling, LLC is one of several places in the Pittsburgh area where you can drop off old electronics to be recycled.

They'll strip any usable components and send the rest off to be melted down and reused.

"I think what people don't realize is that there are toxins and heavy metals in IT equipment," said Jacob Metz, a co-owner of Evolution E-Cycling, LLC.

Metals such as lead, cadmium and mercury can leak from landfills, contaminating ground water. Metz pointed out stacks of old analogue TVs, saying they're some of the worst offenders.

"In each tube TV like this, depending upon the size, there can be 4-6 pounds of lead," said Metz.

Many devices also contain valuable materials such as gold, silver, copper and aluminum.

"These pins here are actually gold," said Metz, as he showed me the pins inside various connectors.

What isn't obsolete will be refurbished. For example, Metz said the RAM inside a discarded Dell computer was still good.

"Chances are one of the components in this computer failed, but any number of the other components inside here are still working," said Metz.

There's no fee unless you're concerned about data security. For $10, Evolution E-Cycling will wipe the hard drive clean and then drill a hole in it.

"Our machine shatters the hard disk and punches the spinning platter out of it, so it's completely dead," said Metz.

For security reasons, I recommend wiping the hard drive whenever you're disposing an old computer. The new law takes effect in three weeks

Many communities hold recycling events making it easy to dispose of electronics. You can also drop off old electronic equipment at places like Evolution E-Cycling or Good Will.

If you've got something really heavy, you can even call and arrange a pick-up.

Evolution E-Cycling, LLC, 704 Parkway View Dr., Pittsburgh, Pa., 15205, 412-787-1616