Texas Enacts E-Waste Recycling Program

The Texas Commission on Environmental Quality (TECQ) has officially implemented the Computer Equipment Recycling Program for their state. The program will expand free electronic recycling options for consumers. The wording in the program shows that the commission means business. Manufacturer’s must offer a take back program for their products in order to sell them. Similarly, retailers are not able to sell new computer equipment unless the manufacturer appears on TECQ’s approved list. Thankfully for computer shoppers in Texas, just about every major manufacturer, including Dell, HP, Apple, Toshiba, Sony, and Lenovo, appears on the list.

Recyclers must adhere to TECQ’s Sound Environmental Management code, a code that targets hazardous chemicals and encourages reuse and recycling through Institute of Scrap Recycling standards. The code should also improve accountability of where e-waste ends up, though there is no wording that addresses exportation overseas. E-waste is often exported to poorer regions of the world where it is crudely dismantled for scrap at the expense of the environment and health of workers. Non-governmental organizations such as the Basel Action Network and the Silicon Valley Toxics Coalition have been monitoring and documenting the detrimental effects. While improving accountability may help deter some of this, specific wording would have had a more direct impact.
Texas joins the few states and cities that monitor and legislate e-waste. Washington and Maine use a model that makes the electronics manufacturers responsible for the end of life of their product. California uses an Advanced Recycling Fee that goes toward e-waste recycling infrastructure in the state. The consumer pays the fee upfront with the purchase of new electronics. New York City passed e-waste legislation earlier this year that aims to recycle or reuse 25% of e-waste by 2012.
It’s encouraging to see more states and cities recognize the issue and step up to the e-waste challenge.
Photo Credit: Jason Schlachet

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