Colorado E-Waste Ban Starts in July

On July 1st, provisions banning the disposal of electronic waste like TVs, computers, DVD players, and other devices will go into effect under Colorado's "Electronic Recycling Jobs Act." For consumers in the state looking for solutions to get rid of their unwanted gadgets, the Colorado Department of Public Health has created a website with information on the nearest recycling centers or retail stores like Best Buy or Staples that may also offer free recycling programs.

Most Americans today use an enormous amount of electronic hardware and devices. The Consumer Electronics Association estimates the average US household has approximately 24 electronic products and EPA fact sheets compiled in 2009 calculated that landfills receive nearly 2.4 million pounds of e-waste - this translates into consumers throwing away or recycling 142,000 computers and over 416,000 mobile devices every day. EPA also projects that "one metric ton of circuit boards can contain 40 to 800 times the amount of gold and 30 to 40 times the amount of copper mined from one metric ton of ore in the US." Many electronic devices also contain heavy metals or hazardous materials like lead or mercury, and if not properly handled at solid waste landfills, they could impact public health and the environment.

Supporters of the Colorado e-waste ban believe it will provide more than just environmental benefits and landfill waste reduction. A projection by the Institute for Local Self-Reliance, estimates that each ton of recycled e-waste could support 10 jobs. The legislative ban does include some exceptions that still allows appliances, non-hazardous industrial or commercial devices, motor vehicle components, and all types of telephones may still be sent to landfills after the law goes into effect. Further, county commissioners may vote to opt out of the ban if there is no recycling infrastructure in place or if the county cannot provide at least two collection events per year.