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Texas: Computer recycling bounds, but Dell shoulders much of the burden

By Asher Price Austin American-Statesman, Feb 24, 2011

In 2010, manufacturers collected about 24 million pounds of computer equipment in Texas for reuse or recycling. The collection was part of a state recycling program that requires computer manufacturers that sell in Texas to offer consumers convenient, free recycling for their brands of computer equipment.

The 2010 tally of 24,300,000 pounds was nearly twice the tally as in 2009, according to the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality, which oversees the program and announced the statistics this month.

Currently, 78 manufacturers representing 123 brands are participating in the program, according to TCEQ. Texas consumers can learn how to recycle their computer equipment by visiting TexasRecyclesComputers.org.

But Texas Campaign for the Environment, an environmental group, says that more than 90 percent of the electronic waste collected in 2010 was collected by only four manufacturers: Dell, Samsung, Altex Electronics, a small San Antonio based company, and Sony. The remaining eight percent was collected by 38 manufacturers that do business in Texas. Thirty-six manufacturers collected zero pounds.

Arguing that Dell, Samsung, Altex and Sony should not have to shoulder the recycling load, TCE director Robin Schneider says the Legislature should enact rules that put pressure on other manufacturers to recycle. The group wants Texas to join 19 states that have passed e-waste disposal prohibitions. And it wants the state to include a manufacturer registration fee in its computer takeback rules to raise money for producing and disseminating public education materials. Finally, the group says Texas should set collection and recycling targets tied to a company’s market share to push manufacturers to make a stronger effort to promote recycling.

“Everyone should be doing an adequate job,” Schneider said. Dell and a couple of other companies “should not be penalized for living up to the spirit of the law.”