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Egads! E-waste Piles Up, Despite Texas’ “Take Back” Law

January 18, 2011

AUSTIN, Texas - January is the busiest time of the year for electronics donations at Goodwill Industries of Central Texas, which is dedicated to reusing and recycling the gear to keep it out of landfills. Texas also has a "take-back" law, under which computer companies are supposed to help dispose of old machines in an environmentally responsible manner.

Christine Banks, Goodwill's vice president of environmental business, says Dell partners with them for computer recycling, and she hopes the State Legislature will put teeth into the take-back law so more companies will step up. She wants to see television manufacturers on board, too. Most donated TVs have to be sent out of state for recycling, since they have no resale value, says Banks.

"That's not a revenue generator. We do it, but we would like to see some sort of responsibility taken by the manufacturers."

A TV recycling law was vetoed last year by the governor. Best Buy stores accept old television sets for a small fee, and a few TV-makers have partnered with the City of Dallas and other locations for recycling. (Find the list of dropoff sites online at TexasTakeBack.org.)

According to Robin Schneider, executive director of the Texas Campaign for the Environment, computer companies make it easier for consumers to drop off outdated products in other states. She says it's time that Texas became more of a priority.

"They know how to sell us their materials, and they know in other states how to collect them back. They're just not giving us the same service that they're giving consumers in other parts of the country."

A report from the Texas Campaign for the Environment found last year that the state was last in the country for its rate of computer recycling.

Deb Courson, Public News Service - TX