You are correct -- municipal governments throughout Texas do collect mountains of electronic waste. Each city or county must then decide on a recycling partner, and as you might guess, cities and counties must usually go with the lowest bidder. As you might also guess, the lowest bidder is in many cases a company that exports e-waste overseas, since this shameful practice is currently more lucrative than real recycling.
So far as Houston's recycling efforts go, the picture is cloudy. If a recycler is listed as an "E-Steward" then we can be sure they are not exporting. As the article mentions, there are no E-Stewards in Houston. However, if they are not E-Stewards, that doesn't mean they are exporting -- it just means we can't be sure they aren't. And we the taxpayers are paying for it whether it's really recycling or not.
This touches on the heart of the issue. Even if none of the e-waste Houston collects is exported, the companies that design and sell electronics have no concern for where they might end up. Instead, the manufacturers should be responsible for the entire life of their products. Producers should be accountable for what happens to their toxic electronic waste, not local governments and taxpayers.
Texas passed such a law to cover computer equipment in the 2007 session. Although its provisions to stop export were lacking, now all computer manufacturers selling products in Texas must offer free recycling. You can see the results so far at www.texasrecyclescomputers.org. We have also been successful in convincing several TV makers to offer recycling. Visit www.texastakeback.com for more on how to recycle your e-waste in Houston. We urge people to make use of the manufacturer recycling programs whenever possible.
Texas Campaign for the Environment will be pressuring lawmakers to strengthen this law and extend it to cover other e-waste, such as TVs. We are also working with U.S. Congress member Gene Green on federal legislation to stop export. We make progress by building broad community support and public pressure to hold our lawmakers accountable. Visit www.texasenvironment.org for more on this issue.
And speaking of the city's recycling centers, now is the time to take your Christmas tree in to be mulched. The city's Christmas tree recycling program is going on now through January 7, though locations are closed today. There are 14 locations around the city for this. Please note the following:
Please remove tinsel, plastic bags, tree stands and water bowls. NO FLOCKED TREES ACCEPTED. Trees will be collected curbside.
For more information, call 3-1-1.