Texas serious about e-wasteLet’s focus on a place that rarely comes to mind when discussing progressive, environmental policy: Texas. In 2007, the State of Texas decided to put a boot down on the traditional cradle-to-grave approach to computer usage. Since then, the Lone Star State has implemented major efforts to halt computer and televisions from clogging its landfills, which is a big win for the eco-inclined, as land in Texas is cheap and virtually endless. House Bill 2714 graced the halls of the Capitol Building in Austin in September 2007 and culminated in the Texas Computer Equipment Recycling Program. This state law created a system where municipalities, manufacturers, retailers and consumers all have to work together to ensure computer monitors, computer towers and accompanying keyboards and mice stay out of the ground, as many have components that are valuable commodities. Other components are toxic. Under this legislation, the State of Texas fostered a closed-loop recycling market that put emphasis on the manufacturers to partner with trusted electronics (e-waste) recyclers in order to turn junk equipment into reusable commodities. The state even added a little bite to the program by threatening a $25,000 fine to any manufacturer not complying with this law. Here is a list of computer manufacturers in good standing with the state as of the writing of this article. The best part if that the program is that it is free to residents. Well, sort of. The manufacturers are now tacking on recycling costs to the original sales price. Yet this is still a step in the right direction, and computer makers aren’t the only ones getting their feet held to the fire for recycling. After much grumbling from residents that wanted to expand the reach of e-waste recycling in the state, Senate Bill 329 was signed into law this past summer, adding televisions under Texas’ e-waste recycling umbrella. The Texas Television Equipment Recycling Program now holds TV makers to the same environmental responsibilities within state boundaries. As expected, many manufacturers and retailers of these devices are jumping on the green bandwagon and promoting the recycling of their products. Notably, Best Buy, Samsung, Sony and Walmart offer services to help consumers find a responsible collector and/or recycler for unwanted equipment. Consumers, however, are still going to have to keep driving the recycling efforts of governments and companies to keep their homeland safe and green. Companies and municipalities alike listen to their residents, albeit it in very different ways. The good news is that proponents for recycling are being heard. Those looking to dig into the e-waste recycling issue in Texas should consult the pages linked above and additional resources of the always-helpful Texas Commission on Environmental Quality (TCEQ). One can find a world of info to make sure electronics purchases and recycling are done only with compliant businesses. Unfortunately, immediate hard data concerning recycling rates and poundage were hard to come by since the program is so new. Keep checking with the TCEQ website to monitor how successful these programs are at keeping electronics off the garbage pile. In the end, consumers will always be the ones saddled with the bill for recycling e-waste, whether through an increased sales price at time of purchase or added taxes tacked on by your local government. But don’t view these added costs as bad thing since the buyer, after all, is the reason such products exist. Once we all realize recycling today is better than paying a much heftier price tomorrow, we can stop ignoring the glaring issues of e-waste and start embracing a cleaner, safer future. Here’s looking at you, Texans, to keep up the good work.