Ask Eartha: Electronics and hazardous waste among items that make up the recycling resistance (column)
June 3, 2016
There are some hard-to-recycle or potentially harmful items I am not sure how to dispose of. I know that there was a recycling event a few weeks ago, but how can I dispose of hard-to-recycle items regularly? — Meaghan, Breckenridge
Meaghan, there are many hard-to-recycle items that traditionally end up in the trash. The good news is that with a bit of education, that does not necessarily have to be the case. The following list outlines a few of these more common items and where you can recycle them.
Household Hazardous Waste and Electronics
Did you also know that you can dispose of Household Hazardous Waste (HHW) and electronics for free 6 days a week?! In November of 2014, the citizens passed the Safety First, Safety Fast ballot measure that called for measures to improve water quality. The ballot measure allowed for Summit County citizens to recycle electronics and household hazardous waste at no cost. Basically, when HHW or electronics are placed into the trash water seeps through the landfill cell, gathers pollutants and flows into waterways. Recycling these materials will avoid the deposits of these dangerous materials in our fragile water system.
HHW and electronics can be brought up to the Summit County Resource Allocation Park (SCRAP) in Keystone on Landfill Road anytime Monday through Friday 7 a.m. to 4 p.m., or on Saturday from 7 a.m. to noon. HHW includes both latex and oil based paints and stains, chemical pesticides and fertilizers, household cleaners and any other type of common chemicals. Electronics include computers, televisions, cell phones and most other electronic devices. All of the items brought to the SCRAP are recycled properly to avoid the items contaminating waterways.
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Pharmaceuticals and over-the-counter drugs can also cause water pollution and have adverse effects on aquatic life when either thrown in the trash or flushed down the toilet. Summit County has a safe disposal drop for narcotics at the Summit County Justice Center in Breckenridge on Airport Road. The Justice Center is open Monday through Friday 8 a.m. to 4 p.m.
The best option for batteries is to buy rechargeable ones and a charger so that they can be used again and again. However, if you do have used batteries you are wishing to recycle, Summit County does have an option for that. Batteries — alkaline, zinc, lead, rechargeable, car batteries, etc. — are all accepted at the Frisco and Breckenridge recycling drop centers. Frisco's drop center is located at 221 Peak One Blvd. and Breckenridge's center is located at 284 Coyne Valley Road. Both centers are open 24 hours a day.
Clothing and Shoes
Gently used clothing and shoes can be brought to the Family and Intercultural Resource Center's Summit Thrift and Treasure. They have locations in both Dillon and Breckenridge. In addition, if your items are in good conditions you may be able to bring them to one of the many consignment stores throughout the county.
Shoes in rough shape have a second chance at life. The Nike outlet store in Silverthorne has a collection bin for severely worn shoes, and these shoes will be recycled into playgrounds, tracks or materials for new Nike products.
CFL and Florescent Light Bulbs
On your next trip over to Lowe's in Silverthorne be sure to bring along your old florescent light tubes and Compact Florescent Bulbs to be recycled here. These bulbs contain mercury and can be hazardous. Lowe's has a receptacle to recycle these bulbs right in their entry way, and you can rest assured that these will be disposed of properly.
Type No. 5 Plastic
If you have ever been to one of the free recycling drop center locations in the county then you know the only types of plastic that are collected are no. 1 and no. 2 bottles. This is because these commodities (notice, it did not call these disposables or trash) are the most valuable on the plastic recycling market. However, type no. 5 is valuable to some companies. There is a type no. 5 collection bin in Whole Foods in Frisco. This bin ships the plastics to a company called "Preserve" and they make toothbrushes and razors out of this type of plastic.
I hope this article has given you some solutions to recycle items that you feel are harder to recycle. Recycling is a confusing industry, but becoming educated on this subject doesn't take much effort and can go a long way to address environmental concerns. If you have any further questions about what you can recycle and where, check out the High Country Conservation Center website at highcountryconservation.org, or call the recycling hotline at (970) 668-5703 and the friendly recycling experts at HC3 can address your questions. Happy recycling!
Ask Eartha Steward is written by the staff at the High Country Conservation Center, a nonprofit organization dedicated to waste reduction and resource conservation. Submit questions to Eartha at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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