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Colorado Enacts New E-Waste Law

Pueblo Chieftain

Just in time for the observance of Earth Day this weekend, Gov. John Hickenlooper signed a bill into law Friday that bans disposal of electronic equipment in landfills and requires the state of Colorado to dispose of its e-waste through certified recyclers.

It’s “green” in the environmental sense, and means “green” as in cash-money for an emerging business sector that includes 2002 Pueblo Community College graduate Henry Renteria-Vigil.

“It’s going to put us in a good position,” he said.

His Denver-based certified recycling business, R2 Stewardship, got its start with a contract with the Pueblo Army Depot, and grew to enjoy its first $1 million year in 2011.

Now that SB133 is law, more will join Renteria-Vigil in that club, according to Marjorie Griek, executive director of the Colorado Association for Recycling.

“It means jobs,” she said. “It’s economic development, and it means less toxics in our landfills.”

Hickenlooper lauded the economic and ecological aspects of the bill as well. He noted that great expense goes into the retrieval of rare-earth metals common to electronics, and plucking them from castoff items reduces the need to mine them.

“It really does find that sweetspot between creating jobs for the economy and promoting the environment,” he said.

Sen. Gail Schwartz, D-Snowmass Village, was among the bill sponsors. She said the same items in electronics that hold value when recycled pose serious environmental risks when left to decay and seep carcinogens into the soil.

“That potentially goes into our groundwater at our landfills and threatens the health and safety of our state,” she said.

By Patrick Malone