Tossing used televisions, computers, other electronics out with trash now illegal in Colorado

Homeowners urged to recycle

DENVER - It is now illegal to throw out old televisions, used computers and other electronic items with your trash in Colorado.

Senate Bill 12-133 is intended to prevent pollution, save landfill space and create recycling jobs while saving energy and raw materials.

"You have some hazardous materials within electronic devices," said Wolf Kray, environmental protection specialist with the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment. "There's leaded glass and some mercury every now and then in certain circuit boards…But really, it's an energy issue. You have materials that are very difficult to extract, some precious metals and really it’s important to reuse them and recycle them than to have it disposed of."

Under the new Colorado law, which took effect Monday, it is illegal to throw out:

-computers and computer monitors

-televisions

-printers

 -fax machines

 -DVD and VCR players

-peripherals devices such as keyboards and computer mice

-radios and stereos

 -video game consoles

 -laptops, notebooks

 -ultrabooks, netbooks and tablets

Not every homeowner is aware of the new law.

A 7NEWS crew found an old cathode ray television tube sitting in an alley adjacent to a dumpster at 35th Avenue and Harrison Street on Monday afternoon.

When asked what happens if an owner places electronic items in the alley or curbside, Operations Manager Charlotte Pitt of Denver's Solid Waste Division replied, "First of all, we're going to take the approach of education."

Pitt said solid waste crews will place an orange sticker on the item explaining why they can't pick it up.

The stickers will include this link, www.denvergov.org/ecycle for information on recycling.

Pitt said that if the item is still there a week later, an employee will try to make contact with the homeowner to let them know about the new law.

She said if the homeowner doesn’t recycle the item, "it will be treated as illegally dumped waste."

"It can result in a fine of up to $999 if residents don't take responsibility for their equipment," she said.

Outside of Denver, trash haulers will use stickers pointing to this link, www.colorado.gov/cdphe/ewaste for a list and location of recyclers.

A 7NEWS crew toured Waste Management's Recycle America plant at 48th Avenue and Jackson Street Monday.

The warehouse was filled with old televisions, monitors, computer processing towers, and other electronic items.

The disassembly crew was busy taking the items apart for further recycling.

"We get a power supply, we get a floppy disk, a CD drive, plastic, aluminum heat sensor, mother boards, memory processors and steel," a supervisor said.

Many recyclers charge a small fee to recycle items.

At Recycle America, the fee to recycle a computer monitor (CRT or Flat screen) is $10. There is no charge to recycle a laptop, notebook, computer tower or desktop computer. Printer and fax machines are $3.  And TVs under 35 inches are $10. Those over 36 inches are $15.

Several cities host used electronic collection events. Aurora says it hosts five collection events annually.  Denver had one in April and plans another sometime in August. The cities teams up with recyclers to help homeowners properly dispose of used electronics.

Under the law, counties can "opt out" of the landfill ban if there is no way to provide at least two electronics collection events per year, or one permanent collection location.

Counties must first perform a "good faith effort" to provide the minimum recycling standards prior to opting out of the landfill ban. If a county does vote to opt out of the landfill ban, the ban expires after two years and requires the county to make another good faith effort to secure a vendor to provide recycling services.