Take it back, make it green, recycle responsibly
Nationwide, 34 states have enacted Producer TakeBack Recycling laws in which manufacturers provide recycling for products such as electronics, paint, carpet, mercury containing light bulbs & thermostats, pesticide containers, auto switches and mattresses. Thanks to years of public pressure and grassroots support, Texas has done this for computers and televisions so far.
Producer TakeBack recycling is a proven solution for handling hard-to-recycle materials. This takes the burden off of taxpayers and local governments by making manufacturers responsible for recycling. Doing this gives manufacturers a profit motive to reduce waste and re-design their products with fewer hazardous materials.
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One perfect example is household batteries—rechargeable or single-use, they do not belong in landfills. Trash landfills are often located near waterways and many are leaking toxins underground. Safe handling of the potentially harmful materials contained in household batteries is important for protecting our air, water and land in Texas.
Despite this known problem, there are still no widespread recycling programs in Texas for single-use batteries, and the existing recycling system for rechargeables doesn’t work well either. National estimates show that 3 billion batteries are tossed into U.S. landfills each year.
Battery companies are already providing convenient recycling programs for most Canadians, Europeans, and Vermont residents, because of legislation that has passed there. Texans deserve the same service and opportunity to recycle!
All major battery manufacturers now publicly support recycling legislation in Texas and other states. In 2015 Texas lawmakers considered battery recycling legislation, but unfortunately the bill did not pass. The State of Vermont passed a battery takeback law, and single-use battery recycling increased there by 1400%! Similar legislation will be filed here in 2017.
The idea is to replace cradle-to-grave thinking, which assumes that products will be landfilled at the end of their useful lives, with cradle-to-cradle design, which aims for product design in which everything is either fully recyclable or fully and safely biodegradable. The aim is to model our system after nature, where there is no waste. The goal is to create products that are healthy for all of us, for all time.
- Learn about the impact of the Texas Computer and Television TakeBack laws here and here.
- Read more on Extended Producer Responsibility programs and policies here.
- See which states have producer responsibility laws in effect here.
- Read the full Texas Campaign for the Environment Fund report on battery recycling programs here.
Background photo by John Seb Barber from Leeds, UK
- Texas TakeBack is a resource for recycling almost anything, and a project of TCE Fund.
WISC-TV: Over two dozen environmental protesters from Texas and Madison came together to bring a message to Spectrum Brands.
E-Scrap News: EPA Administrator Lisa Jackson called for stronger legislation governing the export of scrap electronics.
Wall Street Journal: Two recent studies suggest a globalization loop in which toxic materials from high-tech garbage are turned into potentially dangerous goods for kids and shipped back.
Business Week: The garbage-strewn streets of Guiyu reek of burning plastic as workers in back rooms and open yards strip chips from old PC circuit boards.
National Geographic: Future archaeologists will note that at the tail end of the 20th century, a new, noxious kind of clutter exploded across the landscape: the digital detritus that has come to be called e-waste.