Plan Ahead to Save Money when the Time Comes to Dispose of Computers, Monitors, and Peripherals – Preparing for the next step of Pennsylvania’s Covered Device Recycling Act

May 31, 2012

The New Rules

In November 2010, Pennsylvania passed the Covered Device Recycling Act (“CDRA”)1.

Beginning January 24, 2013, the CDRA bans the disposal of all covered devices regardless of whether or not they would be considered hazardous waste.  Covered devices include desktop computers, laptop computers, computer monitors, computer peripherals and televisions.

Businesses may no longer dispose of covered devices or their components at landfills and must have those devices properly recycled or reused.

Note:  Pennsylvania’s disposal ban is nearly identical to New Jersey’s January 1, 2011 ban on the disposal of computers, monitors, laptops, portable computers, and televisions.  Delaware’s Solid Waste Authority runs a recycling program that charges businesses 15 cents per pound, but Delaware has not imposed an electronic equipment ban at its landfills.

What this Means for Pennsylvania Businesses

All non-home based businesses will no longer be permitted to dispose of a covered device or any of its components with its municipal waste as of January 24, 2013.  To get ahead of the curve, businesses should consider alternative strategies for compliance such as:

  • Leasing equipment;
  • Participating in a buy-back program;
  • Donating equipment to a non-profit; and
  • Engaging an electronics recycler.

Planning ahead will make upgrading electronic systems easier.   For the first violation of any requirement of the CDRA there is a penalty of up to $1,000, and up to $2,000 for any subsequent violations.  According to the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection, the severity of the violation takes into account the number of devices wrongfully disposed of.  Each device does not count as a violation, rather each episode of a wrongful disposal (regardless of the number of items disposed) counts as a violation.

What this means for Pennsylvania Retailers

Retailers have fewer options.  The section of the CDRA affecting Pennsylvania retailers went into effect on January 1, 2012.  It dictates that no retailer may sell or offer for sale a new covered device in Pennsylvania unless the brand is registered with the State and subsequently is included on the State’s list of registered manufacturers.  A retailer may continue to sell covered device brands that are no longer registered so long as the brands were included on the list of registered brands maintained by the State at the time the covered devices were ordered by the retailer. Additionally, a retailer may not sell a covered device in Pennsylvania if the device is not affixed with a brand label.

Retailers also must provide information to its customers about the manner in which covered devices can be recycled, and of locations for the collection and return of these devices.

Retailers who offer recycling programs may not charge a fee or cost to consumers (including home-based businesses) for the collection, transportation or recycling of a covered device unless a financial incentive, such as a coupon or rebate, of equal value is provided to the consumers.

For retailer violations, penalties may be assessed by the Department up to $1,000 for first violations and up to $2,000 for subsequent violations.  According to the Pennsylvania DEP, each individual sale of an item not registered with the state or affixed with a brand label constitutes a violation.

1The full text of the Act can be found here.