Highland Village council endorses recycling program

The News Connection

Stephen Webster


On Tuesday, December 12, the Highland Village City Council voted in favor of a resolution supporting a bill in the Texas legislature that would require electronics manufacturers to offer buy-back and recycling programs for outdated goods.

The item was placed on the agenda after numerous Highland Village residents wrote the council in support of the Texas Campaign for the Environment, whose members had been collecting petition signatures in the city. During the council meeting, Texas Campaign for the Environment members presented over 600 signatures to the council, and spoke in support of the resolution.

“I just want to thank you for even thinking about putting this on your agenda to talk about it,” said Robert Andrews of Duncanville, who came to the council in support of the group. “It shows that you are concerned and interested in trying to improve our environment. Your constituents are very much behind this.”

“This is an issue that affects our local governments, our state governments, our national government and everybody on an international level,” said Robin Schneider, an Austin resident and the Executive Director of Texas Campaign for the Environment.

“Many people have electronics in their home,” she continued. “I am one of them … A lot of us know that, in Texas, even thought you are allowed to throw them in the garbage, it is not a good idea. So we store them in our closets, in our garages or what-have-you. And for good reason! Because there’s lead and mercury, cadmium, chromium and toxic fire retardants in computers that really don’t belong in our landfills and need proper recycling and disposal.

“Unfortunately, what happens is that about 50 to 80 percent of these materials are shipped overseas to recyclers. These are very crude salvage operations, and it is endangering the health and environment in other countries such as China, India, Nigeria and many, many others.”

Two young members of Texas Campaign for the Environment stood up and unfurled a banner displaying all the signatures the group had collected from Highland Village residents.

“This has been one of the most pleasurable cities to work in since we arrived,” said Jeffrey Jacoby, Staff Director for Texas Campaign for the Environment in the Dallas area. “Over 600 of your constituents have signed statements of support encouraging local government officials to support producer take-back recycling initiatives in order to relieve taxpayers of the burden associated with the recycling and disposal of toxic electronics.

“Over 540 have written personal letters directly to this council and the Mayor in support of this issue. We’ve generated hundreds of members for our organization while working in Highland Village, and they have called on you as a council, as well as state legislators, to do the right thing, not only for the environment, and not only for their children, but for them as citizen consumers.”

Members of the council appeared impressed.

“This council has had a very proactive stance on environmental issues,” said Councilman Austin Adams. “We’re one of the cities that has a yard waste compost program. Not too many cities will take that initiative, and a lot of yard waste still goes to landfills. We have two annual cleanups … We budget for household hazardous waste collection and proper disposal in the fall and spring.”

The councilman concluded by saying, “I think you have found a friendly ear among this council.”

Councilman Brian Fiorenza made the initial motion in support of the resolution. The vote was unanimous.

Highland Village has joined with Georgetown, Plano, Kyle and the Dallas Transportation and Environment Committee in requesting the Texas legislature to pass a bill requiring manufactures to initiate electronic take-back recycling programs.

For more information on the Texas Campaign for the Environment, visit www.texasenvironment.org.