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TV Recycling Bill Expected to Become Law

May 20, 2011

AUSTIN, Texas - Twenty states have laws providing for the recycling of old televisions, which reduces the amount of electronic waste in landfills. After a state House vote on Thursday, it appears Texas will join the club.

The bill, which already has passed in the Senate, would require TV manufacturers to give consumers easy recycling opportunities. SB 329 is not expected to be vetoed by Gov. Rick Perry, as was a similar measure in 2009.

Robin Schneider, who directs the Texas Campaign for the Environment, says it's good news for Texans who care about reducing electronic waste.

"Because all the television companies - if they want to sell us TVs - they're going to have to recycle TVs."

The measure would make manufacturers primarily responsible for recycling costs. Much as with the state's existing computer-recycling program, consumers would learn of recycling options from retailers, the state environmental agency, and local government web sites and toll-free hotlines.

The bill's strong bipartisan support indicates changing attitudes in Texas, says Schneider, who has been pushing similar efforts since 2003. With no evidence such laws in other states have inflated TV price tags, she says, the legislation should please almost everyone.

"This measure is important because it will help keep toxic lead and mercury out of our landfills, and it will help create jobs in the recycling industry. It will also save local tax dollars."

Until now, she says, local governments have borne much of the costs associated with discarded TVs.

The new law would not make recycling mandatory for consumers, but Schneider thinks most Texans want to do the right thing as long as it's convenient enough.

"Most people have a sense that throwing away an old television to go to the landfill is probably not the best thing to do, but they don't know what else to do with their television."

The recycling industry, she says, has been slow to accommodate televisions, largely because TVs don't have as many reusable components as do computers, for instance. That will change, she predicts, with new recycling laws: Compelled to subsidize the recycling process, manufacturers will have an incentive to build TVs with more recyclable materials.

A resource for computer recycling is online at Texasrecyclescomputers.org. Information and statistics on nationwide electronic waste laws are at electronicstakeback.com.

Peter Malof, Public News Service - TX