Texas Ranks Last in Recycling Old Electronics

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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  2. Goodwill will take anything you bring them. Their store at 183/35 has a drive thru service where they will even help you unload your items from the car.

  3. OMG! We are a nonprofit and have been storing old computers forever. Now, we can’t find anyone to take them without high fees and long drives.

    Texas needs to catch up to the other states. I saw so many awesome recycle programs.

    Can anyone help me find some recycling company close to Fort Worth Texas that does not charge fees?

  4. Electronics recyclers must meet certain requirements to qualify as “e-Stewards”, providing a guarantee that their recycled electronics will be handled in an environmentally safe manner. The website is e-stewards.org. It appears that there are only 2 in central TX: ECS Refining in Terrell at 972-551-7800 amd Capstone Wireless in Dallas, 888-226-6692. I also work with a non-profit thrift shop supporting our county foodbank. We recently spent $200. to recycle TVs dumped at our facility. It has become an additional cost of doing business. All computer manufacturers selling in TX are required to take back their own products for recycling although most consumers dump their computers in the trash or at the nearest thrift store. There are no recycling laws for TVs or other electronics in TX. We have encountered fees for computers and TVs, but no fees for recycling other electronics “with a cord”. We do store all of our unusable electronics and recycle them responsibly. Dallas has electronics recycling events–contact recycling offices there for help.

  5. In the UK takeback schemes exist but they are not well publicesed. On the whole the best use for old, yet still working equipment is by sending it somewhere where the equipment will be data wiped (to military standards), repaired, refurbished then envenually reused. This is important as over 70% of the electricity used by a computer during its lifespan is during manufacture. If we want to be environmentally sound with our computer usage plans then this figure should be reduced and the simplest way to go about that is to ensure the computer is reused elswhere.

  6. I know, personally, that all Best Buy locations will take old electronics at no charge. Here in Texas we have dropped off old computers, stereos and TVs–check the Best Buy website under “e-cycle”.

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