Sherman looks to the future

Sherman Herald Democrat
Kathy Williams

The Sherman City Council looked to the future Monday, passing a resolution regarding high-tech trash, holding public hearings on annexations and learning about police computers.

Councilors also looked to the future, joining with other local entities to study traffic patterns at the rapidly developing intersection of U.S. Highway 75 and FM 691. In keeping with the theme, the council approved refinancing Texoma Area Solid Waste Authority’s 2004 series of bonds.

Following executive session, the council produced a draft list of qualifications and proposed advertisements for a new city manager. The council will discuss these items in open session at a later meeting.

The council action on electronic waste is a resolution asking the State Legislature to pass a bill requiring producers of electronic equipment such as computers, televisions and cell phones, to take back their products when they become trash. The House has passed a bill and sent it to the Senate, which has sent its own version to the Senate Environmental Regulation Committee. Neither version includes any electronics except computers.

That’s a problem, said Mayor Bill Magers, because a federal law that will take effect in the next two years will make many televisions obsolete. Those televisions currently go into municipal landfills. Older sets contain more toxic substances. The resolution the Sherman Council passed includes computers, televisions, cell phones and other electronics. Magers said that State Rep. Larry Phillips, who represents Grayson and Fannin counties in the State Legislature, favors the measure.

Councilor Terrence Steele asked if passage of this law would cost the city extra. Councilor Cary Wacker explained that the burden would fall on the manufacturer. She added that some other countries already require this and she believes this practice of producer take-back will be much more common in the future.

The idea behind the proposed law is that manufacturers would be responsible for taking their products back. Manufacturers would develop a responsibility for recycling their products free of charge to the consumers. They would establish drop off or pick up policies. The costs would be rolled into the original cost of the appliances.
Cynthia Manley, a Sherman resident, asked the council to ensure that the resolution they pass includes televisions and not just computers. The text of the resolution was not included in the simple agenda statement given to those who attended the meeting.

This is a better plan than California’s, Texas Campaign for the Environment states in material included in the council’s agenda. The Texas law removes the financial burden from local governments and seeks a market solution, encouraging manufacturers to make less toxic products. It is a non-tax solution, TCE states, because recycling becomes a cost of doing business to manufacturers.

“Manufacturers will use their business know-how and create innovative solutions that work for them,” TCE states. “Producer responsibility avoids big government bureaucracy. … Two to four state employees would oversee a manufacturer responsibility law. On the other hand, California’s Advanced Recycling Fee law creates a big government bureaucracy requiring over 60 staff to implement.”