"The goal of the program is to give Texans an easy way to recycle the used computer equipment they have been storing in their closets and garages for years," said TCEQ Executive Director Mark Vickery. "The most effective way to reduce the environmental impact of computer equipment is to help ensure it is reused or recycled."
The program, created by House Bill 2714 passed in 2007, requires computer manufactures that sell in Texas, to offer consumers convenient, free recycling on their brands of computer equipment. The law is intended to ease the costs to local governments for providing e-waste recycling.
To date, 54 computer manufacturers are listed in the program, including most of the larger companies, such as Apple, Compaq, Dell, Gateway, Panasonic, Samsung, Sony, Toshiba and Zenith.
As of September 1, the only new computer equipment retailers are permitted to sell in Texas is equipment that was made by a manufacturer appearing on the TCEQ's list of manufacturers that have joined the program.
The equipment must be clearly and permanently labeled with a brand owned by a manufacturer on this list. Retailers can be fined up to $2,000 for each violation of this law.
Computer equipment that can be recycled through this program includes desktop and laptop computers, monitors and the accompanying keyboard and mouse made by the same manufacturer.
Some computer companies are already recycling in Texas. Here, Dell Chairman Michael Dell, far right, delivers snacks for volunteers while dropping off old computer equipment for recycling at an Austin, Texas collection event. January 2008. (Photo courtesy Dell)
Used computer equipment is a rapidly growing source of waste in Texas and across the country.
The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency estimates that in 2007, 53 million computers became obsolete, as well as 35 million monitors and 82 million mice and keyboards.
Many consumers store used computer equipment rather than throw it away: The EPA estimates about 68 million used computers and 42 million monitors were in storage as of 2007.
Vickery says the new program complements resources already available. Used computers can potentially be reused as-is and offered to schools or nonprofit organizations.
Circuit boards, microchips, and other components found in used computer equipment can be recovered and reused in other electronics products.
Also, metals such as copper and gold can be extracted from used computer equipment and recycled.
Manufacturers are only required to collect and recycle computer equipment purchased by individuals primarily for personal or home-business use.
Commercial, government, and nonprofit customers should check with their manufacturers, local retailers, and local charities to see what options are available to them for upgrading, donating, refurbishing, or recycling used computer equipment.
Manufacturers are only required to collect and recycle their own brands of computer equipment, not brands owned by other manufacturers. Still, some manufacturers may choose to offer recycling for brands other than their own.
Program details, and information on how Texans can recycle used computer equipment, as well as the list of manufacturers and their recycling programs is online at: www.TexasRecyclesComputers.org.
Copyright Environment News Service (ENS) 2008. All rights reserved.