Concord, NH – The New Hampshire Department of Environmental Services announced today that Governor Lynch has signed into law House Bill 1455, sponsored by Representative Suzanne Butcher of Keene. House Bill 1455 bans the disposal of video display devices in New Hampshire landfills and incinerators starting July 1, 2007. Video display devices include televisions, computer displays (CRT), liquid crystal displays and plasma screens larger than 4 inches in diagonal. This measure will eliminate a major source of lead from the state’s disposal facilities and encourage the recycling of electronic waste. New Hampshire joins Maine, Massachusetts and California as the only states in the country to pass such a ban.
"Landfill space is at a premium in New Hampshire," said DES Commissioner Michael Nolin. "It is our responsibility to reduce the amount of materials going into the disposal facilities by encouraging recycling and to ensure that the materials that are going in are as safe as possible. New Hampshire has been participating with the other 9 northeastern states, the Council of State Governments and the Northeast Recycling Council in developing model legislation. Pending introduction of that legislation, it was felt a disposal ban is a positive step," Commissioner Nolin added.
Of the 235 municipalities in the state, more than 60 have electronics recycling programs in place. It is expected that this number will grow before the ban becomes effective. There are also 16 commercial recyclers available to state residents now. Many of the computer manufacturers, such as Hewlett-Packard, Apple and Dell, also have take-back programs. Small electronic items, such as cell phones, already have an active, widespread recycling system in place.
"The number of obsolete computers and televisions is huge and growing," said Rep. Butcher. "They should not go into our landfills or incinerators, both because of sheer volume and because they contain lead and other toxics. Recycling is the way to go." The bill was sponsored by Rep. Butcher and co-sponsored by House Environment & Agriculture Committee Chair David Babson of Ossipee and Vice Chair Timothy O’Connell of Milford, working in cooperation with the Department of Environmental Services.
As high definition TV becomes the norm and faster, better computers are introduced to the market, millions of older televisions and computer monitors will need to be disposed of. The National Recycling Coalition predicts that as many as 500 million computers will become obsolete by 2007. In New Hampshire, many tons of computers are already being trashed, recycled, or placed in storage per year. These outdated electronics will further strain already limited landfill space.
In addition, CRT monitors and TVs contain an average of 4 pounds of lead each. Excessive lead and other toxins pose a problem in unlined landfills because they can leach into groundwater or, in the case of a lined landfill, force expensive leachate treatment. In incinerators, the lead winds up in the ash residue, which is in turn disposed of in landfills. Lead exposure, either by ingestion or inhalation, has been linked with learning disabilities, behavioral problems and at very high levels, seizures, coma and even death. In addition, the plastic material used to house electronic components often contains brominated flame-retardants. If improperly handled, these toxins could be released into the environment.
New Hampshire’s ban on disposal will go a long way in "getting the lead out" of the environment. The Department of Environmental Services will be providing information to the municipal transfer stations on methods to encourage recycling. Further information on computer take-back programs and on commercial recycling companies will be posted on the DES Web site shortly and will be made available to municipalities.
More information regarding this program including participating businesses can be found on the NHDES web site