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“Flash Action” in Ohio Encourages Walmart to Take Up E-Recycling

October 31, 2011

COLUMBUS, Ohio - Some Ohio shoppers were taken by surprise this weekend by a "flash action" taking aim at Walmart's recycling policies. A group of activists unexpectedly broke out into a song-and-dance routine inside the electronics section of the Walmart at Cleveland's Steelyard Commons shopping center.

Lynn Rooks, field manager for Ohio Citizen Action, says they are calling on the company to provide convenient take-back and recycling options for obsolete electronics.

"Best Buy already has a take-back program, which is fantastic, but Walmart is a global leader and they sell all these electronics, and it should be as easy to take back and drop off your old item for recycling as it is to buy a new one."

Rooks says electronic waste is the fastest-growing waste stream, and Walmart could make a big difference in keeping heavy metals out of landfills by providing recycling opportunities nationwide. The flash action also urged the company to support federal legislation to stop electronics from being dumped in developing countries.

According to its website, Walmart has a recycling program for items from only one manufacturer, Samsung.

Rooks says the flash actions are non-confrontational and focused on educating the public and Walmart on the issue.

"The actions themselves are a surprise; that's the whole point of them. They've received tens of thousands of letters from us already on this issue, but we're working to get their attention on a larger scale, because this really is about global responsibility."

Rooks says this 'e-cycling' is an important issue for all Ohioans, as the state has recently been ranked number one in the country for toxic air pollution.

"These electronics are full of things like lead and mercury, and we certainly don't need to be adding onto the heap of what the coal industry is already doing here in the state. We're already number one in a bad way, so this is definitely going to be one way to curtail that."

Other similar flash actions were held this weekend at Walmarts in Connecticut, Michigan, New Jersey New York and Texas.

Mary Kuhlman, Public News Service - OH