HANOVER TWP. – Residents of Luzerne County deposited an estimated 500,000 pounds of useless answering machines, televisions, computer equipment, camcorders and other consumer goods on Saturday at the 20th Electronic Recycling Collection sponsored by the Luzerne County Solid Waste Management Department at the Hanover Area Junior/Senior High School.
For 10 years the county has been collecting recyclables, and more than 3.6 million pounds of electronics were collected between 2003 and 2011, said Elizabeth DeNardi, recycling coordinator for the county.
An estimated 2,500 cars rolled through the collection site organized by county officials, which DeNardi called another "success."
"We've never had a ‘bad' day," she said.
When looking at the benefits of the program, DeNardi cites many. First, it is a free service for the residents, which they appreciate, she said.
"I wish I had a nickel for every person who said they were looking forward to this each year," she added.
Plus, it saves landfill space, creates jobs, saves natural resources and helps "complete the recycling loop," she said.
The item received in the largest quantity is televisions, DeNardi said. After 10 years they continue to pour in, even large console televisions that have "flood mud" on them, she added.
Recycling firm Eco International, based in Vestal, N.Y., takes care of the actual physical collection, hand loading everything into the back of several large trucks. The company takes the goods, breaks them down into their various materials and sells the materials on the open market for recycling, said Joe Nardone, vice president of business development. Approximately 95 percent of what is collected can be reused, he said.
In mass, the collected items contain a lot of "commodities," Nardone said, which includes various precious metals, plastics, and glass. These materials are in demand on the open market. Some of the circuit boards or motherboards found in computers can actually be sold complete, he added.
Nardone pointed out Luzerne County outperformed almost every other area in the United States, when measuring the amount of recycled items collected. He attributes that to the work of DeNardi and the county administration.
Nardone emphasized many of the items collected are not allowed by Pennsylvania law to be deposited into landfills. This means local hauling companies and landfill operators will reject taking them or face fines or other penalties, he added.
The collection allows local residents to take advantage of proper disposal without cost to them, he added.
Luzerne County receives a grant from the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection to help cover the cost, DeNardi said. She estimates the total cost to run the recycling program to be about $100,000, with the grant money covering about half, she said.