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Public hearing Wednesday on mandatory TV and computer recycling

A public hearing will be held Wednesday on a Wisconsin bill to force the makers of TVs and computers to have their obsolete products recycled.

Madison Democrats have tried for years to pass such legislation and it's expected to be easier now that their party's in charge.

But Assembly Democrat Spencer Black says the need for such a mandate is bigger than ever, now that people are converting to digital TV's.

The federal EPA says more than 80 percent of old electronics go to landfills where their toxic materials can pollute the groundwater.

But the bill's supporters say more people understand the problem these days. In Dane County last month, an electronics recycling event collected over 70 truckloads of worn-out items and it caused a major traffic jam.

The new bill would take effect next May if it passes. It would force TV and computer makers to register with the DNR, arrange to have old items recycled, and pay fees which would rise if they don't collect enough.

The manufacturing group Tech-America opposes the bill. Its director, Ed Longanecker, says many major companies already have recycling programs and Wisconsin's version would add costs to consumers.

Also, he says it raises constitutional questions to force manufacturers to pay for what their buyers may or may not do later on.

Eighteen other states have mandatory electronics' recycling. In Minnesota, 33 million pounds of items were kept out of landfills last year.