As the 2011 Texas Legislative Session winds down to a close, there are at least two bill to improve recycling that stand a good chance to pass. H.B. 695, sponsored by State Representative Alma Allen (D- Houston), would provide manufacturer-based recycling programs for mercury containing thermostats. S.B. 329, sponsored by State Senator Kirk Watson (D- Austin), would put manufacturers in charge of recycling their obsolete televisions.
These proposed bills would require manufacturers to pay for the collection, transportation, and recycling of waste from consumers, small business, schools, and local governments. Producer takeback recycling ends the existing system of local taxpayers subsidizing waste, shifting the cost of waste management from governments to producers. Producers have the control over design and should be responsible for the solutions. By making the producer responsible for their end of life products, there is a market-based incentive to start designing for reuse, recycling and with safer materials. In addition it levels the playing field to make it fair for everyone.
Justin M. Bowen, Las Vegas Sun-
“After the digital tv switch, a lot of people are going to say ‘no one’s going to want my old analog tv, I need to get rid of this,’ and we expect to see an e-waste tsunami of electronic trash headed for our landfills,” Robin Schneider with Texas Campaign for the Environment, said.
Some television companies, such as Sony, Samsung, and LG, already have recycling programs, and they’re aiming high: they want to have recycling centers nearby for 95 percent of America’s population.
Mercury-added thermostats more mercury than any other household product. In fact, 6-8 tons of mercury from old thermostats is tossed into U.S. landfills each year. The disposal of mercury-containing products in our landfills and incinerators poses unique problems. In a landfill, mercury often breaks down into its more toxic, more dangerous organic form, methylmercury. In one study of landfill gas destined for venting, researchers found methylmercury at levels one thousand times higher than typically measured in open air. There are an estimated 50 million mercury-containing thermostats remaining in homes across America that have yet to be discarded.
Both of the proposed bills have received bi-partisan support, as well as support from local governments and the manufacturers themselves. The TV recycling bill has already passed though the Texas Senate, and both bills could pass though the Texas House within the next week.