Politics & Government

NC Senate bill would let TVs and computers into landfills

Electronics recycling in NC

The state Senate is trying again to allow cities and towns to toss discarded televisions and computers into landfills. Senate Bill 553 would repeal the ban on throwing electronics in dumps.
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The state Senate is trying again to allow cities and towns to toss discarded televisions and computers into landfills. Senate Bill 553 would repeal the ban on throwing electronics in dumps.

The state Senate is trying again to allow cities and towns to toss discarded televisions and computers into landfills.

Senate Bill 553 would repeal the ban on throwing electronics in dumps.

Sen. Andy Wells, a Hickory Republican, said in a meeting of the Senate Agriculture, Environment and Natural Resources Committee on Wednesday that modern computers and televisions are much slimmer than their bulkier ancestors. The state does not ban gaming systems or phones from landfills, he added.

The recycling market isn’t always good, Wells said, so it would be better to allow local governments to dispose of electronics in lined landfills if they want, rather than leave them piled up.

The Senate has tried before to repeal the ban, The News & Observer has reported.

“This is like a bad penny that keeps turning up,” Sen. Mike Woodard, a Durham Democrat, said Wednesday.

The worry about electronics in landfills is not just about the space they use, but toxic heavy metals they contain.

Michael Scott, director of the Waste Management Division at the state Department of Environmental Quality, said the department would prefer changes to the current electronics recycling program rather than lifting the ban on landfill disposal.

The recycling market has ups and downs, he said, but there’s still a market for materials from electronics. The state has six major recyclers, Scott said.

Scott said a preferable approach is detailed in House Bill 759, which would require computer and television manufacturers to have contracts with certified recyclers.

The committee did not vote on the bill Wednesday, but will meet again Thursday.

Lynn Bonner has worked at The News & Observer since 1994, and has written about the state legislature and politics since 1999. Contact her at lbonner@newsobserver.com or (919) 829-4821.
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