Old Monitors Now Tough to Dump in Massachusetts

BOSTON (03/31/2000) - Massachusetts residents will no longer be able to discard their old computers and TV monitors as they please when a first-in-the-nation electronic disposal ban goes into effect here tomorrow.

The ban, issued by the Massachusetts Department of Environmental Protection (DEP), will promote the recycling and/or donation of televisions and TV monitors.

The crux of the problem with discarding such items, according to the DEP, lies in the CRTs (cathode ray tubes) used in both devices and which contain, on average, five to eight pounds of lead. While the lead can be safely removed through a recycling process, it can be very hazardous if released by crushing or incinerating the CRTs.

In a written statement, the DEP said that the current estimates of solid waste generated by electronics amount to 75,000 tons, and that it is expected to reached 300,000 tons by 2005. The rapid innovation in technology is to blame for computer monitors and TVs quickly becoming obsolete.

Under the ban, which was first announced by the administration of Governor Paul Cellucci in September of 1998, TV and computer monitors will no longer be accepted at transfer stations, landfills or combustion facilities. According to The Boston Globe, any landfill operator who knowingly accepts CRTs will automatically be fined $25,000.

While charities such as the Salvation Army may benefit from the ban by receiving more donated equipment, there is growing concern about possible abuse by individuals who will donate broken items because they have no way of discarding them.

Pierre Lemieux, the Salvation Army network manager for the district of Massachusetts, says it is becoming increasingly difficult for the organization to dispose of those items.

"I am hoping it doesn't happen, but I suspect there will be some abuse of our good nature... We now have a policy that we don't accept donations at our headquarters. All donations go to the area retail centers," he said.

Lemieux said he also hopes his organization can develop community programs in collaboration with different towns to help with the recycling issue.

To alleviate the problems that may emerge from the ban, the DEP has vowed to provide $200,000 in grants to establish a recycling and collection program. Six permanent collection centers have also been established to accept CRTs from individuals.

"We will pay for the disposal fee for the CRTs, but the towns have to pick them up. Instead of giving them a check, we pick up the tab," said Richard Lombardi, spokesman for DEP, adding that communities were responding well to the ban.

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