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Environment & Energy

Need to get rid of batteries or an old TV? Pittsburgh residents will have a chance this fall

TV trash wide hard to recycle electronics television disposed abandoned garbage illegal dumping
Katie Blackley
/
90.5 WESA

Pittsburgh residents will be able to get rid of computer monitors, light bulbs, paint and other hard-to-recycle materials at four events this fall.

Pennsylvanians can’t put items such as computers, mice, or keyboards at the curb with other trash. According to the state Department of Environmental Protection, devices like televisions and computers may contain toxic metals like lead and could hurt the environment if not disposed of properly.

“In Pennsylvania. there’s a lot of different laws trying to protect the environment, trying to protect air pollution and everything, and honestly just trying to restrict what all ends up in a landfill,” said Samantha Seeley, a recycling coordinator for Environmental Coordination Services and Recycling, which is working with the city on the events.

Seeley said items that can’t be reused have to be broken down into their component parts and “demanufactured” before they can be recycled or disposed of properly.

“We actually tear everything apart and send it downstream to other facilities,” she said.

The process can be labor-intensive and time-consuming, said University of Pittsburgh Department of Environmental Health and Safety environmental manager Keith Duval.

“There’s limitations on how those things are processed,” he said. “As far as the computers and so forth, it involves backing out a lot of screws, pulling out circuit boards, separating components, separating plastics.”

And it costs money. Seeley said the companies that gather waste at these events often have to pay other companies to dispose of some items, like old TVs and hazardous waste.

The fees are often small and generally don’t stop people from getting rid of their batteries and other electronic waste, Duval said.

“There’s a small cost to doing the right thing as far as recycling,” he said. “I just urge folks to recycle their materials rather than store them in their garage or basement.”

“[R]ecycling a TV, recycling used fluorescent bulbs, getting rid of a gallon of oil in your house is a very small step, but it can have significant impact on the environment,” Duval said. “You want to keep all those materials … out of the landfill.”

At the upcoming events in Pittsburgh, people can dispose of all kinds of electronic and household hazardous waste, including chemicals and flammable liquids under five gallons, lead acid, rechargeable, and alkaline batteries, and even pagers. Tires, explosives, and some other materials will not be accepted. A full list of recyclable items is available here.

Some items will incur a fee. Financial assistance is available.

The upcoming events are:

  • October 16, 2021 in Shadyside at Calvary Episcopal Church, 315 Shady Avenue, Pittsburgh, PA 15206
  • October 23, 2021 in Arlington at New Academy Charter School, 2500 Jonquil Way, Pittsburgh, PA 15210
  • November 6, 2021 in Lawrenceville at Goodwill of Southwestern PA, 160 52nd Street, Pittsburgh, PA 15201
  • November 20, 2021 in Crafton Heights at Middletown Baptist Church, 2660 Middletown Road, Pittsburgh, PA 15204

Advance registration is required and can be done online or by calling 311.

Updated: October 11, 2021 at 2:26 PM EDT
A quote from Keith Duval was updated for accuracy.