Texas Ranks Last in Recycling Old Electronics

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To date, 20 states and New York City sponsor active or pending takeback laws for computers and other used electronics. Photo: Flickr/ A Hermida

A recent report reveals that of all the states with takeback programs for used computers, Texas ranks last.

The Lone Star State’s takeback law mandates that all computer manufacturers and businesses must provide their customers with free recycling options. All discarded electronics, from desktops to monitors, fall within this category.

Released by the Texas Campaign for the Environment, the report generated per capita rates for all states that host computer takeback programs. This is the first report released since the program was introduced in 2008.

While computer manufacturers were able to recover approximately 15 million pounds of used electronics in Texas, this amounts to only a half-pound collected per person.

Minnesota, on the other hand, was able to collect nearly 3 pounds of discarded electronics per person during the first year of its takeback program. The policies there are comparatively more rigorous, since businesses are charged with a fine if they fail to collect a certain percentage of what is sold.

Executive director of the Texas Campaign for the Environment Robert Schneider said in a statement, “The Texas TakeBack program is a phenomenal idea poorly executed. Of all the computer makers, only Dell took ‘free and convenient recycling’ to heart when they designed their recycling program.”

In fact, out of the 15 million pounds recovered in Texas, the Austin-based Dell, Inc. was responsible for no less than 13 million, an amount made possible through the corporation’s partnerships with Goodwill and Staples.

While Dell is largely responsible for electronics recycling in Texas, other manufacturers are attempting to make proper computer disposal as easy as possible by offering convenient mail-back programs, considered the default option in the Texas program.

Even the Texas Campaign for the Environment admitted Dell’s massive statewide role in the first year of the takeback program. The report stated, “By any measure, the first year of the Texas TakeBack program would have proven a complete failure without the disproportionate share of the recovery and recycling load borne by Dell Computers.”

The less-than-stellar results of the report will hopefully be the incentive the state needs to do better in the future. Schneider added, “We want the program to be effective, not just on paper.”

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