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Officials: State Law Needs Changes To Allow Free Recycling Of Old TVs

PITTSBURGH (KDKA) -- How many old televisions do you still have -- and want to recycle or simply get rid of?

"We did a quick analysis the other day," says Justin Stockdale, "and 77 million of these old TVs are sitting in households across the country."

Stockdale is the western district director of the Pennsylvania Resources Council, and he says these TVs contain lead -- think Flint, Michigan -- which is why they can't just be dumped in landfills with your household trash.

"That represents at a minimum 269,000 tons of lead in people's closets and basements," adds Stockdale.

A 2010 state law that banned TVs from landfills was also supposed to encourage "free" recycling of old TVs.

But it's not working.

Many recyclers will no longer accept televisions for free because they don't get reimbursed adequately for them.

"We get a lot of phone calls about what to do with them, and now we don't have a lot of good answers for residents," Myrna Newman of Allegheny CleanWays told KDKA political editor Jon Delano.

Newman says some residents are even tossing their TVs illegally.

"We're expecting to see more and more TVs dumped along the roadsides, over hillsides, alleyways," Newman says.

"We have problems all across the state," says Pennsylvania Rep. Chris Ross, a Chester County Republican. "We need to take some immediate action and also readjust the system so it will work better in the future."

Ross, who authored the original 2010 law, wants community and legislative support for some changes.

"We need to jumpstart this by going back to the manufacturers and ask them to step up their game a little bit and get the money necessary in the system."

Ross has a bill to make sure recyclers get fairly paid for old TVs, and Stockdale says residents need to get lawmakers on board.

"We'd love for people to get engaged with their local legislators," adds Stockdale.

While you can always pay to unload your old TV, state law was supposed to give you a free option.

If you feel strongly about getting this back, contact your state representative and senator.

Pennsylvania Rep. John Maher of Upper St. Clair chairs the House Environmental Resources Committee.

He says this reform is a high priority for his committee.

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