Garfield County to end tech-garbage worries
GLENWOOD SPRINGS – Got some outmoded computer components, an old television set or other electronic gear you don’t want hanging around your storage space any more?Then Janey Dyke of Garfield County has a deal for you, and you can rest assured that the stuff won’t end up poisoning the population of some remote third-world country.Dyke, a 10-year county employee raised in Glenwood Springs, is in charge of the county’s four-year-old electronics recycling program, which she refers to as “e-cycling” or “e-waste.”Once a month, at sites near Rifle and Glenwood Springs, her department accepts “basically any type of complex circuitry item from your living room or office,” she explained in a written statement on the program.But, she continued, “we do not accept appliances (microwaves, smoke alarms, curling irons, etc.).”It’s free to drop off as many as six items, and costs $10 for each additional item in a given load, Dyke said.According to Dyke’s department, computer monitors and older television picture tubes contain an average of four to seven pounds of lead, which is a known carcinogen, and are believed to make up as much as 40 percent of the lead found in U.S. landfills.Other substances, some of them highly toxic, include chromium, cadmium, mercury, beryllium, nickel, zinc and “bromiated flame retardants.”Citing statistics from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, Dyke said that in 2007 discarded televisions, computers and related gear amounted to some 2.5 million tons of trash.”Recycling electronics conserves our natural resources and avoids air and water pollution,” Dyke explained, “as well as greenhouse gas emissions that are caused by manufacturing new products.”She maintains that recycling one monitor and computer translates to the equivalent of not burning 28 gallons of gasoline, and that it is estimated that 680 million computers will become obsolete in the next five years.Aside from the environmental benefits of her program, Dyke said she enjoys meeting and chatting with the people who drop items off.”It’s like they’re watching their kids leave home,” she said of some patrons who get emotional when leaving old equipment behind.Dyke’s solution?”I hug ’em!” she said. She also has been known to personally pick up items from the home of a senior citizen or someone else who can’t easily make the trip to the drop-off centers, or in other ways offer to accommodate a county resident in some sort of difficulty.And she regaled a reporter with tales of community do-gooders who regularly deliver loads of recycled stuff, such as a pastor who collects the stuff from his flock and drives it to the recycle center himself.”It’s great to have that kind of support,” she said, adding that the county commissioners have been particularly supportive.The program is mainly funded by revenues to the landfill from what are called “white goods” – appliances, barbecues, lawnmowers and other goods that are sold as scrap metal – as well as grants, such as $25,000 from Gov. Bill Ritter’s office.Dyke offered assurances that the recycling broker that hauls the stuff away, LifeSpan Technology Recycling, does not dump its accumulated tonnage of electronic garbage in some remote province of China or another country desperate for cash, such as was featured on a “60 Minutes” episode several years ago.”I did my homework,” Dyke declared, and LifeSpan’s president, Dag Adamson, said his company goes to great lengths in the “demanufacturing” process.He said his company has been certified by the International Association for Electronics Recyclers (now the Institute for Scrap Recycling Industry), for sending components to firms with environmental credibility; and the National Association of Information Destruction, for LifeSpan’s efforts to protect the data contained in the computers they recycle.Although Dyke is in charge of the county’s program, she said she gets plenty of help from the county’s Road & Bridge Department, remarking that Road & Bridge director Marvin Stephens is “a big supporter.” She also noted that inmates from the Garfield County Community Corrections program pitch in at least once a month to load all the recycled gear onto pallets for shipment, and praised the county commissioners for their belief in the program.”If we didn’t have their support, this couldn’t happen,” she commented. “I think that’s important, that our commissioners have a green outlook.”Between 22 and 44 pallets (most of the pallets themselves are donated by the Solvay Chemicals Co. in Parachute) are picked up every three months or so in a big semi-truck and hauled to the Front Range, then sold to brokers who find an ultimate disposal site.The Garfield County e-waste program is the biggest of its kind on the Western Slope, Dyke said, although she added that Mesa County has recently started up a program that may change things.Items can be dropped off on the second Thursday of every month – it takes her small crew of volunteers a couple of weeks to process and pack all the items – from 1-3 p.m. at either of two locations.Dyke is usually at the county road and bridge administration building on Hunter Mesa, across the road from the Garfield County Airport. The other location is the road and bridge Cattle Creek Facility, on the Highway 82 frontage road south of Glenwood Springs, just upvalley (south) from the CMC turnoff.For more information, call email@example.com
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