Disposal of e-waste banned by new law
EAGLE — Beginning July 1, Eagle County residents may no longer dispose of most electronic waste in their household trash because Colorado landfills will be banned from accepting it. The change is the result of a state law enacted in 2012 known as the Electronic Recycling Jobs Act.
“Eagle County is ahead of the curve on this — we already have a Household Hazardous Waste Facility at the landfill,” said County Solid Waste and Recycling Director Ken Whitehead. “The law doesn’t require us to do anything we’re not already doing, except now people won’t have the option to put this stuff in the landfill.”
The new regulations apply to televisions; computers, computer monitors and peripherals; laptops and notebook computers; printers and fax machines; DVD players and VCRs; and any video display device with a screen larger than 4 inches. The ban also includes radios, stereo equipment and video game consoles.
“We started accepting e-waste two years ago, and the amount that comes in has gone up exponentially,” Whitehead said. “It’s a good thing they won’t be going to the landfill anymore because electronics have a lot of metals that will eventually find their way into the leachate.”
Leachate is contaminated ground water.
The Solid Waste and Recycling Department will host a free residential e-waste recycling event at its Household Hazardous Waste Facility from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. on Saturday.
The Household Hazardous Waste Facility is located adjacent to the landfill at 815 Ute Creek Road in Wolcott. While the cost for electronics recycling is usually 20 cents per pound, the department is waiving those fees for residential e-waste during the event, to allow for proper disposal before the ban is in place.
For those unable to attend the June 29 event, county officials recommend bringing electronics to the Household Hazardous Waste Facility during the facility’s regular hours, Monday through Friday from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. and Saturdays from 8 a.m. to 3 p.m.
The fee of 20 cents per pound applies to both residents and businesses. In addition, several local e-waste collection events are held throughout the year and some manufacturers offer take-back programs for electronics.
Those affected by the ban may also donate or re-sell working devices, although thrift stores and resale shops are becoming more discriminating about what they will accept.
Residents are reminded of the importance of protecting personal information when disposing of old computers, printers and fax machines. Simply erasing and reformatting a hard drive is not enough. Use of special disk-wiping software or the physical destruction of hard drives and other storage devices is highly recommended.
Drafters of the 2012 legislation say electronic devices should be kept out of landfills and properly recycled to recover materials and reduce the energy demands from mining and manufacturing.
Electronics are made from resources such as precious metals, copper and engineered plastics, all of which require considerable energy to process and manufacture.
Recycling electronics recovers valuable materials and as a result, reduces greenhouse gas emissions, saves energy and saves resources by reducing the need for raw materials.
The Electronic Recycling Jobs Act is also intended to create employment opportunities.
According to the Institute for Local Self-Reliance in Washington, D.C., recycling one ton of waste sustains 10 jobs for every one landfill job.
Most businesses, government agencies, institutions and schools are already subject to e-waste disposal restrictions. Telephones, motor vehicle components and non-hazardous industrial or commercial devices may still be legally disposed of in Colorado landfills.
For more information on the new law, visit www. colorado.gov/cdphe/ewaste. For information on Eagle County’s recycling, Household Hazardous Waste facility and trash disposal programs, visit http://www.eaglecounty.us/recyclingwaste or call 970-328-3470.