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  • Tue, December 26, 2023 11:46 AM | Tamara Kowalski

    Wondering what to do with those old or broken holiday decorations once the holiday is over?


    Most holiday decorations cannot go in your recycling cart, but some communities offer recycling drop-offs. Check your local city or community recycling center to see if they will take them, and see some string light and live tree recycling resources below. 

    String light recycling

    Do not put unwanted or broken string lights in your recycling bin. They must be taken to specific locations for special electronics handling.

    * Unfortunately, the Christmas Light Source has ended their string light recycling program.

    See more Holiday Light Tips on TCEQ's Take Care of Texas blog!

    Live Christmas tree recycling

    Remove decorations, tinsel, lights and stands. Trees sprayed with flocking (artificial snow) are not accepted and should be taken to a specialized facility that can handle these chemicals.

    • Travis County: (December 26 – January 10) Travis County has five FREE Christmas tree recycling drop-off locations for Travis County residents.
    • City of Austin: Curbside customers can recycle their all-natural holiday trees, wreaths and garlands by leaving them at the curb on their composting collection day; or drop off at Zilker Park (10am to 2pm on Saturday, December 30, 2023; Saturday, January 6, 2024; Sunday, January 7, 2024). Find a list of other drop-off locations on their website.
    • City of Georgetown: (January 2-January 31) Residents may drop-off trees or curbside on the first recycling day of the month.
    • City of Round RockRound Rock Recycling Center will take drop-offs during regular business hours, plus will host two special tree recycling events on Saturdays, Dec. 30th and Jan. 6th, 9am-6pm.
    • City of San Marcos(December 26 – January 31) Residents can drop off their unflocked Christmas trees, holly, pumpkins, and other living decorations at six TDS locations (free).  For cities with TDS Green Waste Service, TDS offers curbside pick-up of unflocked Christmas trees.
    • City of Denton: Denton's Solid Waste & Recycling has curbside pickup with regular yard waste collection.
    • City of Fort WorthCurbside pickup on customer's regular yard waste day. See their holiday flyer for a complete list of which holiday items are recyclable, and which are not.
    • City of Dallas: (December 26 – February 3) Trees can be dropped off for recycling at 2 locations, or placed curbside during monthly brush and bulky pickup (those will not be recycled).
    • City of Houston(December 26 – January 26) Houston’s Solid Waste Management Department will have 23 Christmas Tree recycling drop-off locations open. Christmas tree recycling is also available through the city's yard waste curbside collection program. 
      • Houston 33rd Annual Treecycling event: (Friday, January 5, 11:30am) Join Mayor John Whitmire, Council Members, SWMD, and representatives from Reliant Energy, Living Earth, and the Houston Parks & Recreation Department at Houston City Hall’s reflection pool to bring down and mulch the City's Holiday Tree.
  • Wed, December 20, 2023 5:48 PM | Tamara Kowalski

    STAR North Texas Council

    STAR North Texas (NTX) had a very active year, organizing and hosting numerous well-attended events throughout 2023. In December alone they co-sponsored the 2023 DFW Enviro-Mixer Holiday Party with STEP (the Society of Texas Environmental Professionals) and partnered with EarthX for their Rockin' Around the Recycling Tree holiday party (pictured right).

    General membership meetings in 2024 will be held on the second Thursday of each month, 11am–12:30pm. Want to join in? Register here.

    Other NTX events in 2023 included:

    • Earth Day Litter Cleanup of the Trinity River in Fort Worth, coinciding with TRWD's Trash Bash. They had a great turnout, which led to a successful cleanup!
    • EarthX: Organizing and working at the STAR booth.
    • Networking happy hours in March, June and September in Dallas.
    • Lunch & Learn on "Hard to Recycle Items" held in Grapevine in August. Three local experts presented from Spot-On Services, City of Denton and Frito-Lay Arlington.
    • EarthX July networking event: attended EarthX's first networking event as a group.

    The STAR North Texas Steering Committee is represented by Sergio Gonzalez & Lora Hinchcliff (co-vice chairs), Mike Bednar (secretary), Robert Medigovich, Lanny Shivers, Clayton Swize, Terry Shultz, and Daulton O’Neill.

    STAR Business Council

    The STAR Business Council (BC) holds regular monthly online meetings on the first Thursday of the month at 10am CT. These are open to all who are interested. Register here to receive email reminders.

    Having finalized a legislative platform for the 2023 Texas legislative session in late 2022—follow-up recommendations to the Council's successful work on the Recycling Market Development Plan (RMDP)—the BC's Vice Chair Steve Shannon briefed TCEQ's advisory group, the Municipal Solid Waste Management and Resource Recovery Advisory Council (MSWRRAC) during their January meeting, as well as to the Texas Economic Development Council (TEDC) on February 23rd. There, he shared the current activities around the RMDP and its educational program to reduce contamination.

    In 2023, the BC held one of the most successful Walk the Halls events to date, on March 28th, with nearly 25 people sharing the Council's legislative platform with key Texas legislators. The platform contains follow-up recommendations to the Council's successful work on the Recycling Market Development Plan (RMDP), published by TCEQ in August of 2021. Over twenty five visits to House and Senate members and/or their staff’s were made in pairs of at least two per meeting. STAR Mission Partners Universal Recycling Technologies (URT) are especially thanked for sending almost 10 people to participate.

    In June, Council Vice Chair Steve Shannon presented at Keep Texas Beautiful's annual conference on the recycling infrastructure deficit in Texas "and the need for local and regional governments and agencies to coalesce and cooperate with their Economic Development Corporations to solicit and facilitate the development of collection, densification, transportation, processing and end-use market facilities and systems."

    The Council is in discussions with the Texas Economic Development Council—which represents the 725 local EDCs across Texas—and other stakeholders, to partner on future workshops that will stimulate development of recycling collection, processing and manufacturing industries; particularly in non-urban, underserved communities.

    If you are interested in participating or working with the Business Council, please contact Richard Abramowitz at:

    STAR Business Council Steering Committee members are: Richard Abramowitz, RMA Consultants, LLC (chair); Steve Shannon, Orion Solid Waste Resources Management, LLC (vice chair); Karan Bali, Dow Chemicals (secretary), Chris Luce (SmartSort Technologies Inc.), and Ken Thomas.

    Central Texas Council

    STAR Central Texas Council (CTX) holds monthly online calls on the third Tuesday of every month at 3pm CT. They are currently planning tours, meetings and meet-ups for 2024, including a tour with City of Georgetown in the spring, and a City of San Antonio tour next summer.

    If you are a STAR member and would like to be involved, make sure that Central Texas Council is checked in your membership profile to be added to the mailing list (log in to our website with your email address & click "Forgot password" to create one, if needed).

    STAR Central Texas Council's Steering Committee is currently represented by: Amy Thomaides as acting Chair; and Quin Pugh as acting Secretary. 

  • Thu, December 07, 2023 3:40 PM | Tamara Kowalski

    8 Tips for a Green Hanukkah

    This year Hanukkah falls on December 7th-15th. As it's a holiday based on the concept of conservation—a one-day supply of oil lasted a miraculous eight days—we are sharing 8 tips for a more sustainable holiday to celebrate the 8 days of Hanukkah.

    1. Menorahs: Often passed down from generation to generation, a menorah can last many lifetimes, making them incredibly sustainable. If you're in the market for one, however, consider getting an antique or secondhand menorah. Local thrift stores and online platforms like eBay are good places to look. Or make your own! Websites like Etsy or Pinterest offer inspiration and step-by-step guides to help you craft the perfect menorah using sustainable materials and repurposing items.

    2. Use Sustainable Candles: The celebration of Hanukkah requires a lot of candles over the course of the eight days (44 to be exact). Consider using candles made from beeswax, soy or vegetable oil instead of traditional wax candles. 

    3. Choose Sustainable Gifts: When exchanging presents, consider eco-friendly options. Look for products made from recycled materials, support local artisans, or give experiences rather than tangible items. 

    4. Practice Responsible Packaging: Wrap your gifts in recycled or reusable materials, such as newspaper or fabric. Avoid using single-use wrapping paper and make sure to recycle any packaging materials you receive.

    5. Reduce Food Waste: Plan your Hanukkah meals mindfully to minimize food waste. Cook and serve only what you need, and donate any excess food to local food banks or shelters. Composting leftovers is another excellent way to reduce waste and nourish the earth.

    6. Support Local and Organic: When shopping for ingredients, prioritize locally sourced and organic food items. This not only supports local farmers and reduces carbon emissions from transportation but also ensures healthier meals for you and your loved ones.

    7. Embrace Sustainable Decorations: Consider using natural and reusable decorations like pine cones, branches, or homemade crafts. Avoid purchasing disposable decorations made from plastic or other non-recyclable materials.

    8. Dispose of Cooking Oil Properly: Be sure not to put that used latke oil down the drain! Reuse it if possible, or save it for proper disposal at your local drop-off location. 

    As Hanukkah is a time for giving, take the opportunity to make a positive impact on your community and the environment. Volunteer for local environmental organizations or donate to causes that promote sustainability.

  • Thu, November 16, 2023 12:30 PM | Tamara Kowalski

    TCU Texas Recycles Day DESIGN CONTEST 

    Congratulations to Winning Designer Emma Schluterman
    & Honorable Mention Anna Phifer

    Texas Christian University's (TCU) Department of Design held a Texas Recycles Day competition in October as a way to promote recycling in Texas. Senior Instructor Jan Ballard lead the collaboration with STAR, securing a donation of outdoor digital billboard space for the winning design from Lamar Outdoor Advertising, as well as a donation of 200 enamel lapel pins to be distributed to Texas legislators. This is her second such collaboration with STAR—the first being a design contest for shareable holiday recycling graphics on's December page in 2021.

    Emma Schluterman is a BFA Graphic Design senior in TCU's Department of Design. Her winning design "incorporated iconic Texas imagery, such as a cowboy, a cowboy boot and a longhorn, all made from recycled paper."* (See her designs at top and below.) She also created a logo to be used as a lapel pin for Texas legislators (right).

    Emma described her inspiration: “Texans take pride in their state, and these billboards are a direct reflection of that... The billboard headlines incorporate nods to familiar Texan phrases and recycling jargon, such as ‘Saddle up for Sustainability,’ ‘Less Waste, More Yeehaws’ and ‘Let’s Round up the Recycling, Texas.'”*

    The selection was voted on by members of Texas Recycles Day team, which includes staff and board members from STAR, Keep Texas BeautifulNorth Central Texas Council of GovernmentsTake Care of Texas & Texas Commission on Environmental Quality. STAR staff explained, "there were many great submissions, making it difficult to choose from, but only one could be chosen to win. Emma's designs really stood out." In fact, due to the number of great designs submitted, an honorable mention award was added to recognize the efforts of Anna Phifer, a junior in the department.

    * From TCU Department of Design article, "Empowering Texas Through Recycling." 

  • Wed, November 15, 2023 5:38 PM | Tamara Kowalski

    Celebrate Texas Recycles Day & America Recycles Day on November 15th

    What is America Recycles Day?

    Held on and around November 15th, America Recycles Day (ARD) is the only nationally recognized day dedicated to promoting and celebrating recycling in the United States!

    Texas & STAR roots — Also known as National Recycling Day, this day began in 1994 after two Texas Commission on Environmental Quality (TCEQ) employees suggested the idea to the Nation Recycling Coalition to keep encouraging recycling halfway between Earth Days. The two later left TCEQ to form EnviroMedia, an Austin advertising firm, and teamed up with (what is now) STAR to take the idea nationally. 

    The first America Recycles Day was officially held on November 15, 1997, with 44 states and three US territories participating, and Vice President Al Gore as Honorary Chair. Co-founder Valerie Salinas-Davis says, "We raised about $700,000 in sponsorships and gave away the 'Great American Green Dream House' in a drawing among some 500,000 recycling pledges." Stewardship of ARD was subsequently transferred from STAR to the National Recycling Coalition (NRC), and ultimately to Keep America Beautiful.

    * See more history below in a recent article by Bob Gedert, NRC Founding Member & Past President.

    What is

    On Nov. 1, 2021, STAR launched with help from contributing organizations Keep Texas Beautiful and Take Care of Texas. is a hub for sharing recycling information, digital assets, and social media posts, free to use for local governments, businesses, non-profits, and anyone who wants to promote recycling right in Texas.

    Assets are available year-round, and the collection will continue to grow. Each month features targeted messaging based on how Texans live and recycle. 

    We’re setting out to make every day Texas Recycles Day by harmonizing and amplifying recycling messaging state-wide.

    The History of America Recycles Day

    By Bob Gedert, NRC Founding Member & Past President

    November 15, 2023

    America Recycles Day (ARD) is the only nationally recognized day dedicated to encouraging Americans to recycle and buy recycled products. ARD is celebrated annually on November 15. (Source: Wikipedia)  Americans renew their pledge to recycle as they celebrate America Recycles Day on November 15th.  What did you do to promote recycling recently?  That is the main purpose of America Recycles Day, often known as ARD to recycling specialists. This November 15th marks the 29th anniversary of America Recycles Day, as we recall its history and purpose.

    ARD roots go back more than two decades to the State of Texas. Yes, we owe the great Republic of Texas for the seeds of a national celebration for recycling. Texas Recycles Day began in 1994 as the brainchild of two employees of the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality, Kevin Tuerff and Valerie Davis.

    Their idea was to promote recycling through a six-week campaign to boost recycling in the state. They chose Nov. 15th as approximately a half year after EarthDay, and that date needed to be after Election Day and before the holidays. When Kevin and Valerie left their state jobs and started EnviroMedia, an Austin based public relations and advertising agency focused on environmental issues, they proposed transforming Texas Recycles Day into America Recycles Day. They presented the concept at the National Recycling Coalition’s Congress, and it was embraced immediately.

    The first national run of America Recycles Day was on November 15th 1997. The National Recycling Coalition (NRC) pre-announced the event through a kickoff parade at the NRC 16th Annual Congress & Exposition, held in Orlando FL, a gathering of 2,000+ recycling members met for educational sessions and national policy development. On October 1st, 1997, the NRC and the US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) co-sponsored a national press conference at the White House Conference Center, featuring Vice President Al Gore as honorary Chair for the event, with assistance from Fran McPoland (a long-time Board Member of the NRC). The theme was “Buy Recycled,” and the press conference featured a model store filled with recycled-content products. A raffle was offered to those who signed recycling pledge cards, with the raffle winner receiving a free “American Green Dream House”, a home built with recycled-content and energy-efficient products. At least 40 states participated in the first America Recycles Day.

    Over the following years, the NRC advertised the event through buttons, posters and the promotion of local events. More than 3,000 local events across the nation in all 50 states were posted on the NRC website in 2007, the 10th anniversary of ARD.  To promote recycling, a different recycling theme was presented each year on America Recycles Day. In the early years, the theme revolved around buying recycled, looking for recycled content products, encouraging letter writing campaigns to manufacturers, and signing pledge cards to recycle at home, at school, at work and at play. Later years focused on residential collection of recyclables, and the expansion of recycling in local communities.

    As the managing entity and promoter of America Recycles Day since 2009, Keep America Beautiful (KAB) provides promotional and marketing support and resources to a very large network of local event organizers. KAB has kept the program intact as a local event promotion throughout the nation, yet has enhanced the effort with national funds from private sponsors. The NRC assisted in advertising the ARD to its 6,000 members in recent years, and supports KAB efforts to promote ARD nationwide.

    The 2019 ARD campaign theme was “Be Recycled”, utilizing the TV and radio advertising developed by KAB with the themed title “I Want To Be Recycled”, demonstrating an individual recycled plastic bottle wanting to be recycled into a picnic bench. KAB offers creative commercials promoting recycling, sponsored through the Ad Council and available for distribution to local communities. For more information about ARD:  

    The US EPA recognizes the importance and impact of recycling, which has contributed to American prosperity and the protection of our environment, through it’s celebration of America Recycles Day. Visit the EPA’s  How Do I Recycle?: Common Recyclables to learn how and where to recycle these and other items. In addition, learn more about the National Recycling Strategy.

    Yet one statistic still haunts the recycling community: the national recycling rate is still 32% - and stuck at that level for several years.  As we try to raise the nation’s consciousness on recycling, and increase pledges to recycling, we desire to raise the recycling rate through higher citizen participation rates; we need to move it up and beyond this level of stagnation. To learn how to get more involved in recycling, contact the National Recycling Coalition (or STAR).

  • Thu, October 12, 2023 2:24 PM | Tamara Kowalski

    Texas Environmental Leadership Award (TELA) Winners Announced

    STAR to Recognize TELA Recipients at Texas Recycling Summit, Nov. 2, 2023

    Austin, TX — The State of Texas Alliance for Recycling (STAR) is pleased to announce the distinguished recipients of the 2023 Texas Environmental Excellence Awards (TELA). These outstanding environmental leaders and initiatives will be recognized at a special awards dinner held during the highly anticipated 25th Anniversary of the Texas Recycling Summit, in beautiful San Marcos, Texas, on November 2, 2023.

    The Texas Environmental Excellence Awards highlight exceptional achievements in the field of responsible material management and community engagement. They underscore the remarkable work being done across the state to advance recycling access and ensure a more economically sustainable future through the development of the Texas recycling markets.

    These remarkable honorees represent the very best in environmental stewardship and serve as inspirational models for others to follow. STAR proudly acknowledges the extraordinary contributions of each award winner in promoting recycling, environmental education, and sustainable practices across the state.

    "The 2023 Texas Environmental Excellence Award winners truly embody the spirit of environmental leadership and sustainable living," said Jeremy Starritt, STAR Vice Chair and Chair of the 2023 TELAs. "Their dedication to creating a greener, cleaner Texas is an inspiration to us all."

    The Texas Recycling Summit is the ideal opportunity to celebrate these achievements and further explore sustainable practices. For those interested in joining STAR in San Marcos to honor the award recipients or for information on the many great presenters, sessions, education and tours available at the 25th Anniversary Texas Recycling Summit, please visit


  • Wed, October 04, 2023 12:00 PM | Tamara Kowalski



    Contact: Adrian Hernandez

    STAR Appoints Acting Executive Director

    The State of Texas Alliance for Recycling Appoints Adrian Hernandez

    Austin, TX – The State of Texas Alliance for Recycling (STAR) appointed Adrian Hernandez of Pearland, TX as its board chair and acting executive director during its July 27, 2023, board of directors meeting held in Austin, TX. The board voted unanimously to appoint Mr. Hernandez to the position of acting executive director to ensure organizational continuity and manage day-to-day operations with a limited scope and authority overseen by STAR’s Executive Committee, which is comprised of the organization’s elected board officers and at-large members.

    Adrian currently serves as CEO of Keep Pearland Beautiful, a Keep America Beautiful affiliate, and is a two-term councilmember and former mayor pro tem for the City of Pearland, TX. Mr. Hernandez is well-known for his diverse professional background, which includes being a multi-unit café operator in the Houston area for more than 12 years; serving as vice president of operations for a multinational beverage retailer and wholesaler; and as a former professional musician having performed with various bands as well as renowned institutions the Houston Grand Opera and Houston Symphony. Adrian holds a Master of Science degree from Texas A&M University.

    He has served on various boards and committees dedicated to serving the community across a broad range of needs and interests including environmentalism, patriotism, adult education, business development, and food insecurity. In addition to his commitment to recycling via STAR, Adrian currently serves on the board of directors for Keep Texas Beautiful.

    The STAR board of directors have expressed their enthusiasm to work alongside Mr. Hernandez to identify and pursue new goals for the organization while in unprecedented pursuit of their mission to expand recycling in the state of Texas. New and existing members of the STAR organization are welcome and encouraged to meet Adrian at the upcoming 25th Anniversary of the Texas Recycling Summit to be held November 1-3, 2023, in San Marcos, TX. For more information, please visit


  • Thu, September 07, 2023 10:19 AM | Tamara Kowalski

    STAR North Texas Council

    STAR North Texas Council held Steering Committee elections in July. The Council is now represented by Wendy Chance (chair), Sergio Gonzalez & Lora Hinchcliff (co-vice chairs), Mike Bednar (secretary), Robert Medigovich, Lanny Shivers, Clayton Swize, Terry Shultz, and Daulton O’Neill.

    NTX has been holding regular monthly Networking Happy Hours and Lunch & Learn events since March. Their next Happy Hour event will be on September 21st at The Network Bar in Dallas. Click here to register.

    Coming up: The Council is planning another Lunch & Learn for October and a holiday party and membership meeting at EarthX in December. Details to come!

    The NTX Council's recent August 17th Lunch & Learn was held in Grapevine and had a great turn out. Three local experts (Antonio Ramos, Spot-On Services; Kim Jennings, City of Denton; Edward Washington, Frito-Lay Arlington) presented on the challenges of hard-to-recycle items. 

    For Earth Day, STAR NTX organized a large group that joined TRWD's Trash Bash river litter cleanup in Fort Worth on April 22nd!

    STAR Business Council

    The STAR Business Council elected new and past steering committee members to the helm in August: Richard Abramowitz, RMA Consultants, LLC (chair); Steve Shannon, Orion Solid Waste Resources Management, LLC (vice chair); Karan Bali, Dow Chemicals (secretary), Chris Luce (SmartSort Technologies Inc.), and Ken Thomas. Congratulations to all and thank you for your dedication.

    The Business Council (BC) continues to hold regular monthly online meetings on the first Thursday of the month. These are open to all who are interested. Register to participate here.

    Council Vice Chair Steve Shannon presented at Keep Texas Beautiful's annual conference in June on the recycling infrastructure deficit in Texas "and the need for local and regional governments and agencies to coalesce and cooperate with their Economic Development Corporations to solicit and facilitate the development of collection, densification, transportation, processing and end-use market facilities and systems."

    To that end, the BC is also in discussion with the Texas Economic Development Council (TEDC), which represents the 725 local Economic Development Corporations in Texas. The TEDC is interested in partnering with STAR to promote and conduct workshops to stimulate the development of collection, densification, processing and consuming manufacturing industries; particularly in the non-urban, underserved communities. The BC has just forwarded a proposal for these workshops to be held to the STAR Board.

    On March 28th, the BC held one of the most successful "Walk the Halls" events they've had to date, with nearly 25 people sharing the Council's legislative platform with key Texas legislators. The platform contains follow-up recommendations to the Council's successful work on the Recycling Market Development Plan (RMDP), published by TCEQ in August of 2021. Over twenty five visits to House and Senate members and/or their staff’s were made in pairs of at least two per meeting. STAR Mission Partners Universal Recycling Technologies (URT) are especially thanked for sending almost 10 people to participate.

    If you are interested in participating, or in working with the Business Council, please contact Business Council Chair Richard Abramowitz at:

    Central Texas Council

    STAR Central Texas Council (CTX) is currently lead by Amy Thomaides as acting chair, and Quincey Pugh as acting Secretary. They will be sending out a survey to current STAR CTX members soon to gather input on what they would like to see the Council focus on, in addition to tours, meetings and meet-ups for 2023.

    If you are a STAR member and would like to be involved, make sure that Central Texas Council is checked in your membership profile in order to be added to their mailing list (log in to our website  with your email address; click "Forgot password" to create one, if needed). Announcements will be sent to our general email lists, as well.

  • Mon, July 03, 2023 5:36 PM | Tamara Kowalski


    We are thrilled to announce our newly elected board members, who bring a wealth of experience and expertise to our organization. We would like to extend a warm welcome to the following individuals, whose terms began July 1st:

    We would also like to express our immense gratitude to outgoing board members Heather Douglas, Wendy Chance, Amy Thomaides and Ken May, whose terms ended on June 30th. We are deeply appreciative of their hard work and dedication throughout their many years on the Board, and thrilled that most are continuing to be active in STAR, including in Summit planning and with STAR Councils.

  • Wed, January 11, 2023 12:04 PM | Tamara Kowalski

    STAR 2023 Environmental Sustainability Scholarships Now Open!

    See Details and Apply

    As a part of STAR’s commitment to the growth of the environmental and recycling business community in Texas, STAR developed two annual environmental sustainability scholarships in 2022 for students, teachers and student groups.

    Each year, the Student Scholarship will aid up to two graduating high school seniors or enrolled college students looking to study or currently working towards a degree in Environmental Sustainability or other related major of course work.

    The Group and Teacher Scholarship will annually support up to two educators and one officially recognized student group looking to start, enhance, or sustain recycling or landfill reduction programs on their campus or in their community.

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STAR is a 501c3 non-profit organization

Mailing Address

3571 Far West Blvd #3383

Austin, TX 78731

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Office: (512) 828-6409


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