NC bill advances that would allow TVs, computers in landfills

North Carolina
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 A proposal to lift the state’s ban on televisions and computers going into landfills advanced Thursday.

The Senate’s proposed regulatory reform bill repeals the ban that went into place nine years ago. The Senate Agriculture, Environment and Natural Resources approved it Thursday.

“It removes a statewide ban. If a county wants to put a ban on those items, that’s fine. We’re not wading into that conversation,” said State Sen. Andy Wells (R-42nd). “If it’s just not economically possible, why are we telling them not to put them in a landfill that’s been designed and been constructed to handle exactly these types of devices?”

Opponents of the measure cite the concern for hazardous materials, including from batteries, ending up in the landfill.

“Those, if they’re not handled properly, they can easily catch on fire,” said Megan Tabb of Synergy Recycling, which is based in Madison. Her company helps to properly dispose of products containing lead, cadmium, mercury and other materials that could leak into soil and groundwater, she said.

Tabb also said if the ban is lifted, it likely would have a major impact on her company.

“We have 89 employees right now. And, if the landfill ban went away, we estimate that we’d probably lose about 50 of those positions,” said Tabb.

Wells says the current ban does not apply to other electronics such as video game systems and phones.

“With the statute, there’s no way people could know what they can and can’t do,” he said.

He also said the bill is an effort to address communities that may lose money on recycling.

“If it’s just not economically possible, why are we telling them not to put them in a landfill that’s been designed and been constructed to handle exactly these types of devices?” Wells said.

Republican senators have pushed a similar proposal in recent years, but it hasn’t passed.

The manufacturers of TVs and computers also pay an annual fee that contributes to the cost of recycling. Tabb said, “It’s just not done very efficiently.”

Instead of lifting the ban, Tabb says she supports a bill in the House which calls for the North Carolina Department of Environmental Quality to complete a study of the issue by March 1, 2020.

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