While many states ban the disposal of electronics or require manufacturers to recycle them, Fort Collins was among the first cities to ban electronics at the municipal level.
The city took action in 2007 in order to decrease the volume of electronic waste (e-waste) in the landfill and also to protect its environment and workers from the lead, mercury, cadmium, arsenic and other toxic substances found in electronic equipment.
The e-waste ban applies to electronic devices such as televisions, monitors, computers, printers, scanners, fax machines, stereo equipment, VCRs, DVD players, video cameras, telephones, cell/wireless phones, copy machines, and video game consoles.
In 2013, Fort Collins became the first city in Colorado to ban cardboard from the landfill and require that it be recycled or reused. Residents can continue to recycle cardboard through their curbside recycling program while businesses can either contract with a hauler for recycling service or self-haul their cardboard to a recycling drop-off center.
The ban does not apply to waxed cardboard, which is used to ship bulk produce, and food-contaminated cardboard, such as a greasy, cheese-covered pizza box. The city is promoting that these types of boxes be composted instead of recycled.
In 1999 the city adopted a goal of 50% waste diversion by 2010. Colorado banned electronics statewide from the landfill in 2012.
Prior to the cardboard ban, Fort Collins generated an estimated 12,000 tons of cardboard. However, only 4,200 tons was being recycled despite curbside recycling, drop-off centers and other voluntary recycling opportunities.
A cardboard ban was seen as a way to reduce waste—cardboard was 9% of the city’s waste stream—and help the city meet its goal of diverting 50% of the community’s waste from the landfill. A cardboard ban was also recognized in the city’s climate action plan as a significant short-term action to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. Cardboard recycling will prevent approximately 42,000 tons of CO2 equivalents from being released.
The city ran a public education campaign about the electronics disposal ban for about nine months. They continue to emphasize that residents and businesses need to ask the right questions about e-waste recycling companies to ensure their products are not sent overseas to unethical recycling operations that do not follow environmental or worker safety regulations.
Trash haulers are asked to refuse to collect trash containing electronic devices, just like they do not collect liquid or other hazardous waste. For a number of years the city provided yearly e-waste collection events until the private sector developed the capacity to accept e-waste for recycling.
The city is promoting waste reduction and reuse as preferable to recycling. Residents and businesses are encouraged to swap boxes using services such as Freecycle.org and Craigslist.org.
The city undertook a 12-month education campaign about the ordinance, focusing on four areas:
Trash haulers cannot pick up bins containing more than 25% cardboard. The city will issue two friendly notifications for violations as well as pursue a direct discussion with the responsible party before issuing a formal violation. There will be a 15-day period to remedy the situation before a possible $500 fine is levied.
Coloradoan.com article: “Fort Collins City Council bans cardboard from trash”
KUNC radio report: “Fort Collins Moves Forward with Cardboard Recycling Program“Back to map