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Electronics and Computer Waste

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Under Colorado law, residential and business electronics are banned from being disposed of in a landfill and must be recycled.  Per ton of waste, recycling 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 results, reduces greenhouse gas emissions, saves energy, and saves resources by extracting fewer raw materials. 

 

*Institute for Local Self-Reliance, Washington D.C., 1997

 

 

Beginning July 1, 2013 it will be a violation of the solid waste regulations for residents of Colorado to dispose of electronic waste in their trash. While it has been for many years and continues to be violation of the hazardous waste regulations for industry, businesses, and government agencies to dispose of any electronic waste that exhibits one or more characteristics of hazardous waste in municipal solid waste landfills, Senate Bill 12-133 bans landfill disposal of certain electronic wastes from households. Under limited conditions, a Board of County Commissioners may vote to temporarily exempt its residents from the ban.

 

Electronics that are banned from disposal include:

computers & computer monitors

televisions

printers

fax machines

DVD & VCR players

Peripherals such as keyboards & mice

radios & stereos

video game consoles

laptops, notebooks

Ultrabooks, netbooks & tablets

 

Data Security

You are solely responsible for protecting personal information stored on the hard drive of computers or printers prior to recycling. Simply deleting files and reformatting the hard drive does not guarantee that all of your data will be destroyed. A better approach is to use special disk wiping software designed to protect sensitive data. Another option is to find a reputable vendor to remove your hard drive or do it yourself. You may destroy the hard drive by hammering a nail through it in several places or by deeply scratching the surface. Once you've secured your information, bring the drive to a professional recycler for disposal.

 

 

E-waste recycler certification

Certified electronics recyclers have demonstrated through audits and other means that they continually meet specific environmental standards and safely manage used electronics. For a list of certifed recyclers in Colorado and more information on the certification process, please see the following link to the US Environmental Protection Agencies webpage.

Starting July 1 2013, Colorado residents will no longer be able to dispose of household electronics in their trash. In circumstances where there are no means of providing at least two electronics collection events per year or one permanent collection location, commissioners of the county may vote to opt-out of the landfill ban. Counties must first perform a "good faith effort" to provide the minimum recycling standards prior to opt-out of the landfill ban. If a county does vote to opt out of the landfill ban, the ban expires after two years and require the county to reassess the feasibility for providing the minimum recycling standards of at least 2 collection events or one permanent collection location with the county.

 

Requirements for Local Governments

While local governments are not required to fund a public electronics recycling program or collection events, they are required to make a good faith effort prior to voting for an exemption from the landfill ban.

 

A good faith effort by the county must include, at a minimum, attempting to provide two recycling drop-off events per year, or an ongoing electronic waste recycling program serving residents of the county. For a list of electronics recyclers who may provide collection events, please see the "where can I recycle" tab for a list of registered recyclers.

 

County operated landfills and transfer stations must update signage to list that electronic waste is prohibited from disposal.

 

Public Outreach Toolkit Resources

Cities, towns and counties may wish to share information with residents on the electronic waste landfill ban. For resources related to the landfill ban that counties may incorporate local information, please see the following resources below.

 

 

Colorado passed legislation in 2012 that established requirements for landfill owners and operators in regards to keeping electronic devices out of the state's landfills effective July 1,2013. Each of these requirements is addressed below.

 

Signage & Notification

As of July 1 2013, all landfills, transfer stations, and waste haulers are required to post a sign in a conspicuous location stating that waste eletronic devices are prohibited from disposal.

 

Waste Characterization Plan Amendment & Employee Training

Solid waste disposal sites must amend their waste characterization plans for waste acceptance procedures to minimize the disposal of waste eletcronic devices. Identification of materials prohibited from disposal must also be included in employee training procedures.

 

 

 

Any site that is separating, sorting, processing, dismantling, or baling waste electronic materials is a recycling facility and must register as a recycler with CDPHE. Recyclers are subject to the solid waste regulations and must submit a report each year by March 1 that documents the amount of material they collected the previous year. Any recycler receiving business electronics for recycling must also comply with the universal waste regulations.

 

 

Collection Requirements

Any site that accepts and stores residentially generated waste electronics must manage the waste electronic devices in a manner that prevents the release of waste to the environment. 

 

 

Electronic waste from the business/ commercial sector is regulated under current federal and state hazardous waste laws and must be managed as either a hazardous waste or a universal waste. Analytical data show that waste electronics consistently exceed the regulatory limits for heavy metals like lead, cadmium, and mercury, so disposal of these waste generated by commercial entities is regulated as hazardous waste in Colorado. This waste may be sent to a legitimate electronics recycler or must be disposed of at a permitted hazardous waste disposal facility.

 

Manufacturer's Recycling Programs

 

Several major manufacturers of computers and other electronics offer their business customers recycling and take-back alternatives for their products. Some equipment suppliers may act as agents for computer manufacturers' trade-in / upgrade programs so talk with your supplier or check the website of your computer's manufacturer for information about its recycling services.

 

 

 What is the Electronic Recycling Jobs Act and how does it affect me?

Senate Bill 12-133 known as the "Electronic Recycling Jobs Act" prohibits the disposal of waste electronic devices commonly known as e-waste, in Colorado as of July 1, 2013. This new law will have sweeping implications for consumers throughout the state. Industry, businesses, government agencies, institutions and schools are already subject to restrictions on disposal of electronic waste.

 

What devices are banned from Colorado landfills?

Waste electronic devices include: television sets, central processing units (CPUs), computer monitors, peripherals, printers, fax machines, laptops, notebooks, ultra books, net books, electronic tablets, digital video disc (DVD) players, video cassette recorders (VCRs), radios, stereos, video game consoles and video display devices with viewing screens greater than four inches diagonally.

 

What devices can still be disposed of in Colorado landfills?

Non-hazardous industrial or commercial devices, motor vehicle components, or any type of telephone may still be legally discarded in a Colorado landfill.

 

Does the ban affect the entire state?

Yes, however county commissioners may vote to opt out of the ban if no infrastructure is available and if the county cannot secure a minimum of two collection events per year or a collection facility with the county.

 

Why are these materials being banned from landfills?

Electronic devices contain a number of hazardous constituents such as lead, mercury, arsenic, cadmium, chromium and silver. Computer batteries also may contain nickel-cadmium, lithium or sealed lead acid. These materials are not a concern when equipment is in use, but these harmful chemicals could migrate if disposed in a landfill, contaminating groundwater and soil.

 

If I can't throw these devices away, how can I dispose of them legally?

It may be possible to donate or re-sell working electronic devices, although even this option is becoming more difficult as thrift stores become more discriminating about what they will accept. The most environmentally responsible option is recycling through a community collection event, a manufacturer's take-back program or a reputable electronics recycling firm.

 

Where do I find out about collection events or recyclers?

Please visit the Colorado Department of Public Health & Environment's website colorado.gov/cdphe/ewaste for a list of events posted under "where can I recycle."

 

How can I protect my personal data?

You are solely responsible for protecting personal information stored on the hard drive of computers or printers prior to recycling, Simply deleting files and reformatting the hard drive does not guarantee that all of your data will be destroyed. A better approach is to use special disk wiping software designed to protect sensitive data. Another option is to find a reputable vendor to remove your hard drive or do it yourself. You may destroy the hard drive by hammering a nail through it in several places or by deeply scratching the surface. Once you've secured your personal information, bring the drive to a professional recycler for disposal.

 

Toolkit

 

 

 Spanish Toolkit

 

 

Miscellaneous Resources

 

 

Email us at comments.hmwmd@state.co.us or call the Customer Technical Assistance Line at 303-692-3320 (1-888-569-1831 Ext. 3320 toll-free outside the 303/720 area code).