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County may boot up computer recycling program

Jeremy Heiman
Special to the Post Independent

Garfield County is trying to stop computer crashes ” the kind that happen when you throw your monitor in the trash.

County officials are gearing up for an event next year that could be the start of a recycling program for computers and other electronic equipment.

The county’s planning staff and landfill staff have proposed a one-time electronic waste collection drive for the western part of Garfield County. If grant funding is obtained, this event, to be at the Garfield County Fairgrounds in Rifle, could serve as a sort of pilot program for an ongoing electronic equipment recycling program that may be instituted next year.



County officials hope this drive, to be held between mid-May and early June 2005, will echo the success of a similar drive organized by Valley Resource Management throughout the Roaring Fork Valley about 18 months ago, said Randy Russell, senior planner for the county.

This is a matter of some importance because computers, especially their monitors, or cathode ray tubes, contain toxic materials such as lead, mercury, arsenic and other heavy metals. Computers become obsolete in as few as three years, and, with an increasing volume of electronic equipment being discarded, much of it is ending up in local landfills.



Television sets also contain cathode ray tubes, and many of those will become obsolete as flat panel TVs and high-definition television become more popular. Thousands of television sets will be discarded in Garfield County alone in the next few years.

Currently, the Garfield County landfill, between Rifle and Rulison, does not accept computers, television sets, printers or other electronic equipment from individuals. But anyone can put a computer in a trash can, and it will be picked up by the local refuse service and delivered to the landfill, where it will be buried along with other waste.

Partial funding for the drive will be in the county’s 2005 budget, supplied by enterprise funds earned by the county landfill. The county would supply $2,200 in cash and $4,000 of in-kind contributions, primarily in staff time.

This county funding would be matched by $2,700 in funding from the Governor’s Office of Energy Management and Conservation. The OEMC would also guarantee an additional $1,500 for transportation and processing of electronic junk in the event that the drive is more successful than expected.

It was necessary for the commissioners to give the project a go-ahead at their meeting Monday, because the OEMC’s grant deadline was Monday.

After the drive, computer monitors would be loaded on pallets and shrink wrapped. Other components are placed in shipping boxes called “Gaylord boxes” ” heavy-duty cardboard boxes mounted on pallets. The cost of packing and shipping is estimated to be $450 per box, Russell said.

The county will pay for packing and shipping the first four boxes, and a fifth, if necessary, would be paid for by donations. The additional $1,500 promised by the state would cover an additional sixth, seventh and eighth container if needed.

Landfill technician Janey Dyke said the computer components will most likely be shipped to certified computer recycling specialists in Colorado. These businesses sort the components for items that can be reused in children’s programs, and disassemble the rest. They shred plastic parts and reclaim metals, some of which are quite valuable, along with other materials, Dyke said.

Contact Jeremy Heiman: 945-8515, ext. 534

jheiman@postindependent.com


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