Did you know that electronics are the fastest growing segment of the global waste stream? It’s not all that surprising given that the tech industry cranks out new products in the blink of an eye or so it seems.
And if you’re an average American, then you’re household has uses nearly 30 electronic products, such as laptops, mobile phones, and cell phones. (Consumer Electronics Association, 2013)
Americans generated more than 3.14 million tons of e-waste in 2013. (EPA)
What you may not know is that under Colorado law, disposal of electronics in landfills is illegal and has been since 2013. Colorado and other states want to keep electronics out of landfills where they can leach harmful metals into groundwater and soils. And if you’re wondering whether landfills leak, the answer is definitely, yes. Nor do we want them shipped overseas to unregulated facilities where workers often lack even the most basic safety equipment to prevent exposure to toxic or caustic chemicals.
The best way to dispose of electronics responsibly is to bring them to the Eco-Cycle/City of Boulder Center for Hard-to-Recycle in Boulder, or to another recycler with e-Steward certification. The e-Steward standard is the strictest in the industry and meets the highest data security standards and the highest international standards for protecting workers and the environment.
Recycling one million laptops saves the energy equivalent to the electricity used by close to 4,000 U.S. homes annually, according to the EPA, and helps keep toxic materials out of local landfills.
And there’s another great reason to recycle your electronics at the Eco-Cycle operated CHaRM facility. JOBS, local jobs, for young adults on the autism spectrum or who have other disabilities and who excel at dismantling and processing electronics. In fact, their focus on detailed, repetitive work makes them among the best workers in the industry.
That’s the mission of our nonprofit partner, Blue Star Recyclers. Blue Star and Eco-Cycle have been partners since 2016, recycling about one million pounds of electronics annually in the Boulder area. Blue Star also has facilities in Denver and Colorado Springs.
It’s a perfect match.
- Of the roughly 50 million people in the United States who have a developmental disability, less than 20 percent are meaningfully employed – yet most are employable. http://www.bls.gov/news.release/disabl.nr0.htm
- Of the estimated 50 million tons of electronic waste generated globally each year, less than 20 percent is responsibly recycled – yet at least 95 percent is recyclable. http://unu.edu/news/news/ewaste-2014-unu-report.html
So whether you’re an individual with an outdated phone or a business with dozens of old computers to unload, you can recycle them responsibly at the CHaRM located at 6400 Arapahoe Road in Boulder. Check our website for details and fees at www.ecocycle.org/charm
KGNU will bring you recycling tips and covering zero waste issues throughout the year in partnership with Eco-Cycle, thanks to a grant from Boulder County.