Where is your stash — In a closet? On a garage shelf? Down in the basement? Most of us have an area in the house where outdated electronics accumulate. When you decide to clear the clutter, be sure to do so responsibly.
In 2013, the state of Colorado passed the Electronic Recycling Jobs Act prohibiting waste electronic devices from being landfilled and prohibiting your trash hauler from accepting electronics for disposal. By properly recycling electronics, we not only keep harmful materials from seeping into the earth and contaminating our soil and water, but reduce greenhouse gas emissions, save resources by reducing the need to extract new raw materials, and save energy from mining and manufacturing.
Electronic devices contain harmful elements such as lead, chromium, arsenic, and mercury. Their batteries typically contain nickel-cadmium, lithium, or lead acid. But in addition to these harmful elements, electronics contain valuable resources that can be recaptured and re-used, such as copper, silver, titanium, gold, and engineered plastics. Other components such as glass from screens, microphones, sim cards, phone cases, battery connectors, cables, keyboards can be reused or melted to create new products.
As the name of the Act implies, recycling electronics creates jobs. And the Center for Hard to Recycle Materials, aka CHaRM, our community’s electronics recycler located at 6400 Arapahoe in Boulder, has done just that. In November of 2016, Eco-Cycle (who operates CHaRM on behalf of the city of Boulder) entered into a partnership with Blue Star Recyclers to disassemble and sort electronics on-site, rather than transport them to Denver for processing. Blue Star Recyclers was founded in 2009 to hire people with disabilities to work in the recycling industry and now employs eight individuals with disabilities at the Boulder site.
There are fees associated with recycling most electronics, but some are processed at no charge. For information on fees and hours of operation, contact the CHaRM Center at (303) 444-6634.
Items considered electronic waste devices include:
- Central Processing units (CPUs)
- Computer Monitors
- Fax machines
- VCRs and DVD players
- Video game consoles
- Radios and stereos
The Colorado Department of Health & Environment oversees the management of electronics and computer waste. Click for more information from the CDPHE.