Producer TakeBack Get Results

Producer takeback recycling for computers is catching on! In 2010, the second year of the Texas Computer TakeBack Law, manufacturers recycled almost twice what they did in 2009. Now it’s clear that Texans needs similar recycling for TVs. KUT News has more:

“Computer recycling in Texas almost doubled in 2010 compared the year prior, according to the state’s environmental regulator. The Texas Commission on Environmental Quality says 24.3 million pounds of old hard drives, motherboards and various other computer parts were diverted away from landfills last year. The recycling program was created by the state legislature in 2007. House Bill 2714 requires computer manufacturers who sell in Texas to offer easy recycling programs for their brands of consumers.”

Recycling advocates are encouraged that Representative Byron Cook (R-Corsicana) and Senator Kirk Watson (D-Austin) have already re-introduced measures on producer takeback for TVs, HB 88 and SB 329 respectively. This legislation has attracted the interest of the electronics companies, electronics recyclers, charities such as Goodwill, the Christian Life Commission of the Baptist General Convention of Texas and thousands of Texans who are writing legislators every month supporting producer takeback recycling.

In addition, it’s clear that the existing Computer TakeBack Law needs more teeth. Just a few manufacturers were responsible for the vast majority of all the computer equipment recycled in Texas in 2010 under the law. Most manufacturers still aren’t doing anywhere near their fair share!

It’s time to stop squandering the benefits of recycling e-waste such as creating jobs for Texans in the recycling sector, conserving resources including rare earth metals and keeping toxins out of our landfills.

Needs Similar Recycling for TVs

An Easy “Green” New Year’s Recycling Resolution

Did the holidays bring you new gadgets? Here’s how to recycle your old ones.

Electronic gadgets were at the top of many holiday shopping lists again this year, with iPads and Kindles fueling a lot of the buying frenzy. The biggest sellers were e-readers, tablet computers, smart phones, HD TVs and video games consoles and accessories.  The Consumer Electronics Association was predicting that the average consumer would spend $232 on electronics this holiday.

So what should you do with the old stuff – the items these shiny new gadgets replaced? Or the even older ones – the dead cell phones, PDAs, and iPods stashed in your dead gadget drawer, or the old printer or TV tucked away in the basement?  It’s pretty easy to keep a recycling resolution, with the help of the Electronics TakeBack Coalition’s Guide To Recycling Your Electronics. Here are the basics, with a lot more information available on our web based Guide.

Don’t Trash Old Electronics

First, what not to do. The easiest (but worst) thing to do is to toss the old items in the trash. These gadgets contain toxic chemicals, which we don’t want seeping out of landfills and into groundwater, or getting emitted into our air from incinerators. Plus they take up a lot of room in overcrowded landfills. And many contain resources – especially metals – that can be recovered and reused.  So while trashing electronics is still legal in many states, it’s not a good idea. (Check if it’s legal in your state – it might be time to contact your state legislators about tougher laws to keep e-waste out of the trash.)

Reuse

There are many options for reusing or recycling your old electronics. If your old item still works and is pretty current, it can probably be reused. Old tube TVs are usually the exception here, but computers and phones will probably have some reuse value as whole products or parts. Many cities have local, non-profit reuse organizations, which will refurbish electronics for use in local underserved communities. You can usually find these by contacting your local county solid waste agency.  If you don’t find one, consider the National Cristina Foundation, which matches donated computers to charities and agencies, or World Computer Exchange, which sends educational institutions in developing countries the working items they request.

Recycle

If reuse is not an option, then please take it to an electronics recycler. Please make sure your old product gets to a responsible recycler – one who will actually recycle it, and not ship it off to a developing nation, where old electronics are causing terrible health and environmental harm. The best way to do that is to work with a recycler who is part of the e-Stewards network. E-Stewards recyclers adhere to the highest standards in the industry, including a firm commitment not to export non-working or untested e-waste to developing nations.

If there is no e-Steward near you, then there are many takeback programs run by the manufacturers and retailers, most of which are free. See our website’s Guide to Recycling Your Electronics for information and links to all of these programs. Some of these programs have trade-in options, which will give you money back (or credit towards purchases) for certain items, especially cell phones and laptops. The Electronics TakeBack Coalition’s Guide to Recycling Your Electronics includes details on these trade-in options as well.

- Barbara Kyle, Electronics TakeBack Coalition

Story of Electronics: watch, enjoy, share

The Story of Electronics – from the folks who made the wildly popular Story of Stuff web film – explores the high-tech revolution’s collateral damage: 6 billion tons of e-waste and counting, and other (often hidden) consequences for high tech workers, the environment and us. Watch it, then share it with your friends & family on Facebook, via e-mail and on your other social networking sites!

The new web short is raising the profile of high-tech trash worldwide, generating coverage from Discover Magazine, USA Today, The Independent and Fast Company. Help spread the word as the holiday shopping season begins: there are steps we can take today to make sure our high-tech toys don’t come with such a steep environmental price.

Spotlight: Producer TakeBack Recycling

This recent article in the Technology and Science blog, “A Long Term Recycling Plan For Your Products“, highlights the limitations of traditional recycling and the long-term solutions Producer TakeBack programs can offer. From the post:

“Recycling is a great reclamation for our planet and for the environment. But when it comes to our waste problems in America and the world, will recycling alone will bring about a reasonable resolution? The blunt answer is “No”. There are an abundance of reasons for why our current system of consumer recycling will not be enough. Producers and manufacturers have an obligation to their customers and the world to absolutely ensure their products are being recycled by doing things such as partnering and working in concert with waste management institutions. This is the only way real change will take effect to the degree that our planet’s environmental waste crisis demands it. Corporations must take the ultimate responsibility for going green by planning for recycling solutions for all their products before distribution and consumption.”

Read more here.

Fish on Prozac? It’s Time to Take Your Old Meds In

On Saturday Sept. 25 there are events around the country for National Drug TakeBack Day. We don’t want these chemicals flushed down the toilet to pollute our water supplies and the frogs and other animals, or put in our landfills. So this Saturday there are events around Texas to drop off those items. Unfortunately, the big drug companies are still resisting taking responsibility for the end of life of their products. In the short-term there is this one-day event and also a smattering of community pharmacies that are willing to take back unused medicines. Check out the pharmaceuticals link on the left side of this website to get details.

Bag Monster Visits Austin

Andy Keller, the head of the reusable bag company ChicoBag™ company invented Bag Monsters®. Andy had been using a huge ball of 500 plastic bags to show people at farmer’s market how many plastic bags an average American uses yearly – and one day he decided to wear it. Thus was the spawning of the first Bag Monster® (costume that is). This summer the Bag Monster is doing a national tour.

When the Bag Monster arrived in Austin on August 26, he couldn’t have come to town at a better time. The Austin City Council is awaiting the results of a study by our Solid Waste Services Department on the costs to Austin taxpayers of plastic bag waste – those that go to landfills and those that clog storm drains, litter parks or find other places to pollute.

In 2007, the City Council backed a voluntary effort by retailers and others that was supposed to reduce the amount of plastic bags in the waste stream by 50%. The voluntary effort resulted in the distribution of 900,000 reusable bags. However, less than 26% of 3.4 million pounds of plastic bags given out by the five participating retailers were recycled over the 18-month period of the voluntary program.

Thousands of Austin residents have written letters to the Austin City Council to urge them to pass a ban on plastic bags. (Local governments are not authorized by the State of Texas to put a tax on bags.) Local activists are urging retailers to provide incentives such as refunds for people who use reusable bags. One local chain Natural Grocers offers consumers free used cardboard boxes if they don’t have reusable bags.

The Bag Monster is looking for a friendly, pro-plastic bag place to call home. Austinites do not want to put out a welcome mat and instead are looking to the City Council to be the second city in Texas (after Brownsville) to send carry-out plastic bags packing.

Cities, Countries Throughout the World Ban Plastic Bags

Brownsville was the first city in Texas to ban plastic bags, and now Austin is considering following suit. But we’re hardly alone! From a recent CNN report:

Mexico City’s thousands of stores went green Wednesday, as amended ordinances on solid waste now outlaw businesses from giving out thin plastic bags that are not biodegradable. Bans and other restrictions on plastic bags are in place in several countries. China has adopted a strict limit, reducing litter and eliminating the use of 40 billion bags, the World Watch Institute said, citing government estimates. In Tanzania, selling the bags carries a maximum six-month jail sentence and a fine of 1.5 million shilling ($1,137). Mumbai, India, outlawed the bags in 2000 and cities in Australia, Italy, South Africa and Taiwan have imposed bans or surcharges. Ireland reported cutting use of the bags by 90 percent after imposing a fee on each one.

So there’s a growing consensus: plastic bags need to go. California is considering a statewide ban, and it wouldn’t be California without a great video.

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