Pittsburgh-region Goodwill has its fill of TV donations

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You may be ready to kick your old TV to the curb, but there is now one less place to donate it.

As of Sunday, Goodwill of Southwestern Pennsylvania will no longer accept any television donations.

After receiving about 20,000 TVs in 2013, they already have exceeded the 1.5 million pounds the recycler allowed them this year, agency officials announced Tuesday.

"Goodwill was a solution for folks, but we will not be a solution moving forward," said David Tobiczyk, vice president of marketing and development for Goodwill of Southwestern Pennsylvania.

In addition to TVs already recycled this year, the Goodwill stores in southwestern Pennsylvania have TVs in boxes waiting to be driven to the recycling company. This backlog would cost Goodwill of an estimated $125,000 to recycle, according to Mr. Tobiczyk.

"The number of TVs that are able to be resold and actually work is very low so that's why we are saying that we can't accept them at all," Mr. Tobiczyk said.

This decision comes in response to the January enactment of the state electronic waste disposal ban, which bans certain electronic items such as TVs from landfills. After the Covered Device Recycling Act went into effect, Goodwill officials saw an increase in TVs donated to their stores, up from the 700,000 pounds donated in 2012.

David Mazza, Pennsylvania Resources Council regional director, is optimistic that the sudden increase in TV donations eventually will slow down.

"This is a temporary thing and people should not panic," he said. "It will take time for them to work it out, but in the interim, there will be some negative impact."

Pennsylvania is one of about 20 states to have a law banning these items from being sent to landfills, Mr. Mazza said.

"Curbside trash collectors are not allowed to pick up the items and leave them behind and this leaves the consumer asking where to take the item," he added. "It tries to push people to recycle."

Now, with the departure of Goodwill as a place for the TVs to be recycled, Mr. Mazza said the state Department of Environmental Protection, which administers the law, needs to inform consumers what their options are.

Lisa Kasianowitz, information specialist for DEP, said there are options in the state for people to recycle televisions. She advises consumers to contact the drop-off location to see what types of electronics they accept.

Mr. Mazza suggests consumers contact the retailer where they are purchasing their new TV to see if they accept donations.

"A lot of them are accepting donations even if you are not buying a TV," he said.

Other computer and electronics recyclers in Pennsylvania such as eLoop and Construction Junction will continue to accept television donations.

Goodwill stores will continue to accept computer donations in a partnership with Dell Reconnect.

"Essentially there is a lot more value to recycling a computer than a TV," Mr. Tobiczyk said. "There is not as much valuable recyclable material in a TV."

Mr. Tobiczyk said he is not sure whether Goodwill will accept TVs in future years as they can't predict whether the increase in donations will level off.

"The sink is now overflowing," Mr. Mazza said. "We are waiting for the drain to catch up for the amount going into it."


Claire Aronson: caronson@post-gazette.com, 412-263-1964 or on Twitter @Claire_Aronson.


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