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Get rid of old stuff the responsible, and smart, way

If every week of the year had a slogan, this week's would be: "Out with the old, in with the new."

If every week of the year had a slogan, this week's would be: "Out with the old, in with the new."

But if you're making room for a new TV or laptop, you can't just chuck the old ones in the trash.

Most electronic devices contain toxic elements like lead, mercury, silicon, and cadmium that can contaminate landfills. The plastic on the outside and the precious metals on the inside should be recycled - and might even bring in a profit for a local charity.

Perhaps more important, starting Jan. 24, Pennsylvania laws will bar putting computers, monitors, laptops, keyboards, printers, or TVs in with the regular trash. It is the second phase of the Covered Device Recycling Act, passed by the Legislature in 2010.

Under the first phase, manufacturers were required to subsidize the recycling of their items sold in Pennsylvania.

That regulation is helping government agencies and recycling companies offset the cost of collecting and dismantling the items.

"It's almost like trading energy credits," said Charles Nygard, managing director of EForce Recycling in Philadelphia. "So we do the work and then they buy the work off of us. It helps subsidize the collections."

Still, Nygard said, electronics collection is a tough business. The work is labor intensive, and profits are subject to fluctuations in gas prices and demand for raw materials.

In Montgomery County, the law was expected to reduce recycling costs $100,000 a year. In 2012, the county actually made money by hosting eight electronics drop-off events that brought in nearly 490,000 pounds of trash and a $47,446 rebate from its recycling contractor.

The county's drop-off days have not been announced for 2013, but if you're looking to toss some items now, here are a few options.

If the item is still working, take it to a place like Goodwill where it can be resold. If it's not working, try your local Staples, Best Buy, or other big-box store - they recycle most items and, in some cases, offer buyback credit for things like cellphones and laptops.

EForce accepts "anything with a plug" at its headquarters, 3113 Grays Ferry Ave. It has also organized drop-off days at various Whole Foods stores, colleges, churches, and municipal buildings in Philadelphia and Montgomery County. The schedule is posted at

And if that doesn't work, the state EPA has a searchable database of drop-off sites at