No more trashing e-waste

Rubin Hernandez disassembles an electonic component at E-Waste Recyclers on South Seventh Street.



Beginning Monday, Coloradans will have to start paying better attention to their garbage.

Under the new Electronic Recycling Jobs Act, state residents will not be allowed to throw away unwanted electronics in their trash. Instead, they’ll have to arrange for their e-waste to be picked up or take banned items to electronic recyclers.

“All electronics, anything that has a circuit board, has good and bad things, but all of those things shouldn’t go to the landfill,” said Steve Attarian of E-Waste Recyclers of Colorado.

The ban passed last year to prevent hazardous materials like mercury, lead, cadmium and hexavalent chromium found in electronics from potentially damaging the environment when placed in a landfill.

Businesses, government agencies and schools are already subject to restrictions on disposal of electronic waste.

Banned items include TVs, computer monitors, printers, fax machines, laptops, tablets, DVD players and gaming consoles. All types of telephones can still be thrown away.

Another aspect of the bill is job creation. 

According to the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment’s website, recycling sustains 10 jobs for every one landfill job per ton of waste.

E-Waste Recyclers of Colorado, located at 1027 S. Seventh St. in Grand Junction, has seen this first-hand.

“We’re are currently sitting at 21 new jobs we’ve created since I opened this facility two years ago,” said Ken Burns, CEO of the company.

E-Waste Recyclers of Colorado is the only certified recycling company in Grand Junction,  and breaks down electronics locally.

They charge for recycling of some items, with fees ranging from $3 to $45.

The ban affects the entire state, but counties and rural areas without a facility capable of recycling electronics can opt out if the county cannot secure a minimum of two collection events per year or a collection facility within the county.

E-Waste Recyclers has offered such collection events in neighboring counties. They will have another collection event in Eagle County today.

One thing Colorado residents should remember to do before recycling is to remove sensitive data from their devices. Under the ban, residents are responsible for protecting their personal information stored on the hard drives of the electronics unless the recycling company offers data protection.

E-Waste Recyclers offers secure data destruction and hard drive shredding.

“Whether you’re a residential customer or a commercial customer, we’re going to protect your information from day one,” Attarian said.

Not all e-waste recyclers offer data protection. Residents should look for recyclers with R2 Solutions or e-Stewards certification.

Attarian said that in 2012, E-Waste Recyclers processed more than 600,000 pounds of electronics. The company has already expanded and Attarian expects that under the new ban business will continue to increase. “We’re hoping to not only hire more staff, but also maybe (do) a location expansion,” Attarian said.

Attarian said recycling electronics allows the company to recover the commodities in the electronics like copper and other metals and helps save 50 to 90 percent of the original energy it takes to build a product.

Electronic recycling, though, is nothing new for Mesa County. 

The Mesa County Landfill has not allowed electronic items since February 2009.

“As a solid waste division, we saw that this was going to happen and we wanted to have a program in place,” said Cameron Garcia, solid waste and sustainability director for the landfill

Prior to this bill, the state environmental office contacted landfill officials to see how they operated their recycling program and learn about issues they may have had when first implementing the program, Garcia said.

“It does create jobs and there are a lot of valuable resources in electronics,” Garcia said.  Garcia said the landfill will leave collection events to the private sector but continue to offer e-waste recycling for 42 cents per pound.

Since this is a new mandate, the issue of penalties is still in question. Garcia said the landfill has not been notified of what the penalties might be. But residents should avoid the risk of penalties by taking their e-waste to one of the local recyclers.


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