Every Christmas, it's the same old problem.
You love the new TV, or computer, or phone or whatever the heck it is. But you don't know what to do with the old one. If giving it away to a thrift store isn't an option — because it's broken — you do still have an earth-friendly choice. Recycle it.
While it's certainly easier to drag all that junk out to the trash, electronics are a major source of dangerous chemical waste in our environment. All that nastiness seeps into the ground. Our ground. And, you know what they say: You don't poop where you sleep.
Not only is it a hazard to throw away electronics, it's a waste. People want the metals and useful materials that make up your electronics. And breaking down old electronics is work, which means jobs.
So think twice before dragging all your outdated electronics to the trash this season. And read on for more information:
Coloradans want to know what to do with electronic scrap
As the holidays are fast approaching, Coloradans are busy shopping for new electronic gifts — flat screen televisions, laptops, smart phones and electronic games. What to do with the old electronics that are either broken or obsolete? Instead of piling them up in the garage or throwing them in the trash, recyclers and conservationists are asking Coloradans to recycle their electronic waste this holiday season.
Electronic recycling businesses are located throughout the state and Coloradans can take their old and used electronics to the recyclers for a small fee. “Most of the certified electronics recyclers in the state are members of the Colorado Association for Recycling. They are more than happy to take your old computers, laptops, televisions and cell phones,” said Marjorie Griek, executive director of the Association. “Please do not throw them away! We don’t want our electronic waste to end up in our landfills where toxic metals such as lead, cadmium and mercury can contaminate our environment.”
Discarded electronics account for 70 percent of the heavy metals in Colorado’s landfills. When disposed in landfills the chemicals in electronics can cause potential harm to the soil, groundwater and air. For example, mercury contained in bulbs in laptops, televisions and displays is very harmful even in small quantities. It can be released into the environment easily when a laptop or display gets tossed into a garbage truck and is compacted and crushed.
“This holiday season, instead of throwing away our used electronics, let’s recycle them,” said Randy Moorman with the Colorado Environmental Coalition. “Recycling e-waste is a Win-Win. It helps the environment and it creates jobs.”
Each year Colorado throws away between 40,000 and 161,000 tons of electronic waste and only recycles about 8,000 tons. “We are literally throwing away jobs,” said Dag Adamson of Lifespan Technology Recycling in Grand Junction and Denver. “Especially for businesses, when upgrading computers and other technology, used computers and networking equipment can be tested, refurbished and resold. Consumer electronics contain commodities like steel, copper and aluminum that were mined from the ground. Instead of putting them back in the ground in a landfill, let’s re-use these metals and create recycling jobs.”
The Colorado Association for Recycling estimates that if we recycled most of the electronic waste we are currently throwing away, we could create approximately 2500 new permanent jobs with good pay and benefits.
The Association and conservation groups are working to pass a bill in the 2012 Colorado General Assembly that will make it easier for Coloradans to recycle their old electronics. Their proposed bill would ban electronic waste from landfills. Seventeen other states currently prohibit electronic waste in landfills. Such a ban would increase the amount of waste that is recycled in the state. Colorado currently recycles 0.9 lbs/capita/year of residential electronic waste. States with landfill bans recycle about 5 lbs/capita/year.
“With an electronic waste landfill ban, ERI would expect to double both our workforce and the volume of material recycled in our Denver facility,” said Matt McLaughlin of Electronic Recyclers International in Denver. “As we’ve seen in other states, electronic waste legislation will help strengthen the electronic recycling here, allowing us to create potentially thousands of jobs while recovering valuable resources and protecting the environment. Keeping unwanted consumer electronics out of landfills and recycling them effectively is crucially important for reasons of protecting digital data and the privacy of individuals and businesses as well.”
“A new ban on landfilling electronic waste will drive more material into recycling so facilities like ours will add jobs and expand, providing greater access to recycling for Coloradans and Colorado businesses,” said Eric Anderson of Metech Recycling.
“We service Colorado Springs, Pueblo, and Chaffee, Fremont, Douglas, Custer, Teller, Otero, Bent, and Crowley counties. A landfill ban will allow us to expand our operations potentially in areas not currently served by recyclers,” said Andy O’Riley, Vice President of Blue Star Recyclers. “Blue Star’s mission is to use electronic recycling to create jobs for people with developmental disabilities. The increase in volume from a landfill ban could potentially have an enormous impact on a population currently facing 88% unemployment.”