Beginning July 1, Colorado residents may no longer dispose of most electronic waste (e-waste) in their household trash because Colorado landfills may no longer accept e-waste. The change is the result of a new law, the Electronic Recycling Jobs Act. Industry, most businesses, government agencies, institutions, and schools already are subject to e-waste disposal restrictions.
“The new law applies to TV sets, central processing units, computer monitors and peripherals, printers and fax machines, all kinds of laptops and notebook computers, DVD players, VCRs and any video display device with a screen larger than four inches,” explained Wolf Kray, recycling specialist with the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment. The ban also includes radios, stereo equipment, and video game consoles. Telephones, motor vehicle components, and non-hazardous industrial or commercial devices may still be legally disposed of in a Colorado landfill.
People affected by the ban may donate or re-sell working devices, although this option is becoming more difficult, as thrift stores and resale shops are becoming more discriminating about what they will accept. Kray strongly encourages people to recycle their e-waste through community collection events, manufacturer take-back programs, or a reputable electronics recycling company.
“When disposing of old computers or printers, it’s important to protect your personal information from identity theft,” Kray said. “Just erasing and reformatting the hard drive is not enough. To be really protected, you need to use disk-wiping software or use a recycler who performs certified data destruction by physically shredding all information storage devices at its facility.”
The Electronic Recycling Jobs Act will create employment opportunities. According to the Institute for Local Self-Reliance, recycling one ton of waste sustains ten jobs for every one landfill job. 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 valuable 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.
To learn more about collection events, recyclers and protecting your personal data, visit the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment’s website, www.colorado.gov/cdphe/ewaste.