- Associated Press - Friday, May 27, 2016

RALEIGH, N.C. (AP) - Some lawmakers say a program designed to keep computers, printers and televisions out of North Carolina landfills should be repealed because there aren’t enough recyclers accepting those electronics and there’s a broader market downturn for such goods.

A 2010 law barring the electronics from landfills also created the recycling program, paid for by annual fees charged to electronics manufacturers, which accept the used products or have recycling outlets doing so on their behalf. The equipment can contain hazardous chemicals that environmentalists worry can enter into soil and water around the landfills.

The Senate version of the Republicans’ annual legislation designed to reduce state regulations would repeal the program and the landfill ban. There aren’t enough recyclers in the state to collect old TVs and computers, leading some people to throw them into the woods or ditches, said Sen. Trudy Wade, R-Guilford. A downturn in the recycled electronics market is also discouraging industry growth, she said.

“If recycling ever comes back and there’s a profit to be made, we can always change the law and go back to recycling,” Wade said. “But right now, we have a bigger problem with them being abandoned and the possibility of having some kind of contamination because we don’t have anywhere to put them.”

Multiple media outlets reported environmental groups criticized the proposed program repeal, which cleared a Senate committee as part of the broader bill Thursday. They call it shortsighted for the environment and discouraged the electronic recycling industry in the state, which has created hundreds of jobs.

“Allowing computers and televisions to be thrown into landfills undermines an important industry as well as our environment,” Dustin Chicurel-Bayard, a state Sierra Club spokesman, said in a release.

Rep. Pricey Harrison, D-Guilford, a key legislator on environmental issues, said politics also was to blame for the repeal effort. She said the program has taken years to develop “but really hasn’t had much of a chance to prove its merits yet.”

The bill, which is scheduled for Senate floor debate next week, also would exempt some manufacturing facilities from energy efficiency requirements in the state building code and repeal mandates on state government to conduct energy audits on government agencies and institutions of higher learning once every five years.

Many state environmental reports would be scaled back or eliminated in the legislation, which would also need House approval before going to Gov. Pat McCrory’s desk.

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