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Governor Hickenlooper signs electronic recycling jobs act

In celebration of Earth Day, Colorado Governor John Hickenlooper signed the Electronic Recycling Jobs Act (SB 1322) into law. He was joined by a coalition of Colorado small businesses, members of the recycling industry, conservation groups and nonprofit organizations. The legislation encourages the recycling of electronic waste, creates thousands of new jobs and will prevent disposal of harmful chemicals in Colorado landfills.

“The bipartisan Electronic Waste Recycling Jobs Act is an incredible win-win-win for Colorado. It will increase the amount of electronic waste that is recycled in the state, create jobs, return valuable metals found in electronics back into manufacturing and provide for a cleaner and more sustainable Colorado,” said Governor Hickenlooper.

The Act moved through the Colorado Legislature by a bipartisan and diverse coalition including the Act’s sponsors, Senator Gail Schwartz (D-Snowmass Village) and Rep. Don Coram (R-Montrose) and partners including, Colorado Association for Recycling, Colorado Environmental Coalition, Colorado Counties, Inc. and Goodwill Industries.

Colorado joins 17 other states that also have passed laws to address the emerging problem of electronic waste in landfills. Electronic products from televisions and computers contain large quantities of valuable materials such as gold, silver, copper and aluminum. By currently land filling the precious metals, residents are literally throwing away resources which could be used for manufacturing. Instead of losing these materials, this legislation prevents large screen electronics from being placed in landfills in the first place. Importantly, it leaves the specific solutions to the electronic waste to the free market.

“As we’ve seen in other states, electronic waste legislation will help strengthen electronic recycling in Colorado allowing us to create potentially thousands of jobs,” stated Marjorie Griek, executive director, Colorado Association for Recycling. “This type of legislation can serve as a successful model for keeping toxic materials out of the waste stream while recovering valuable resources for reuse by Colorado businesses and protect the environment.”

Colorado is currently throwing away up to 161,000 tons of electronic waste per year and only recycling on average 8,000 tons. For every 10,000 tons of electronic waste recycled, at least 130 jobs are created with the possibility of twice that many. A ban has the potential to create 2,500 jobs.

Electronic devices also contain large amounts of toxic metals, allowing a staggering amount of toxins to enter landfills each year, threatening Colorado’s air, water and land. In fact, despite only amounting to 2 percent of our trash by volume, discarded electronics account for a shockingly disproportionate 70 percent of the heavy metals in landfills.