On Saturday, Sept. 17, the borough will host another convenient drop-off opportunity for residents to turn in electronic devices to be recycled.
These very popular and well-attended events offer solutions to the conundrum created by the Covered Device Recycling Act (Act 108) passed in 2010.
Pennsylvania defines a “covered device” as a “computer device or television device marketed and intended for use by a consumer.”
By stating that in Pennsylvania, desktop computers, laptop computers, computer monitors, computer peripherals, televisions, and any components of such devices may no longer be disposed of with municipal waste, Act 108 caused residents and businesses to seek alternate methods of dealing with such items.
This proved to be difficult and sometimes very expensive.
Illegal dumping of such devices became a genuine problem for Gettysburg as well as neighboring municipalities.
With this in mind, the borough negotiated contract provisions in which the contracted hauler, Waste Management Inc., would collect and recycle the devices during special scheduled events hosted by the borough.
This has proven to be a successful solution to a pressing problem that must not only be addressed locally, but also worldwide.
Our September event will be the first under our contract with Waste Management, and though they have never observed the manner in which we accept the devices, it is our hope that things will go as smoothly and efficiently as they did under our previous hauler, Waste Connections of Pennsylvania.
Borough staff and recycling volunteers will work diligently to ensure that happens.
Electronic devices have become integrated into nearly every aspect of our daily lives.
Rapid advances in technology, however, often render our devices obsolete quickly. For example, according to one Consumer Report study, the average lifespan of a moderately priced laptop computer is three to five years.
Articles published in July 2021, and April 2019, cited the lifespan of several popular brands which fall into that timeframe.
The problem of disposing of electronic devices in environmentally friendly ways is well documented.
On July 2, 2020, the Associated Press reported that the world’s “mountain of discarded flat-screen TVs, cellphones and other electronic goods grew to a record high in 2019.”
A U.N.-backed study estimated the amount of e-waste that piled up globally in 2019 at 59.1 million tons, almost 2 million tons more than the previous year.
The authors of the study, which was produced by the U.N. University, the International Solid Waste Association and others, predicted that global electronic waste could grow to 74 million metric tons by 2030.
The surprisingly large number of discarded devices that we collect at our local events is reflective of the international data that causes so much concern.
Besides contributing to overflowing landfill issues, discarded electronic equipment also poses a health and environmental hazard, as many contain substances such as mercury that can damage the nervous systems of humans and wildlife.
When e-waste gets buried at a landfill, it can dissolve into the sludge that permeates the landfill. Eventually, these traces of toxic materials pool into the ground below the landfill. This is known as leaching.
The next borough electronic device turn-in opportunity on Sept. 17 will be a drive-through event at which there is no need to leave one’s car, as volunteers remove the items from the vehicle. Pre-registration to obtain a time assignment is required through the borough’s website at or by calling 717-337-0724.
Judie Butterfield is the chairman of the borough Recycling Committee and can be reached at 717-337-0724 or email@example.com.