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Boulder Center for Hard-to-Recycle Materials (CHaRM)

by Worldchanging Denver local blogger, Fred Thiele

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Eco-Cycle, Boulder's 30 year old community recycling center, is home to CHaRM, the Center for Hard-to-Recycle Materials. This recycling center is a resource for people living in the Boulder area to recycle materials that are not normally picked up curbside. From the website:

The Center recycles: computers, televisions, VCRs, fax machines, scanners, copiers, cell phones, hard-back books, computer-type manuals, ink jet and laser jet printer cartridges, athletic shoes, plastic bags with a #2 or #4 (clean, dry and empty bags only please), textiles, fire extinguishers, and #6 white block foam packaging.


The majority of front-rangers are probably much like myself with large stockpiles of old electronics and computer equipment stacking up in their garages. Electronics and computers have become such a large part of our lives that this build-up is inevitable. Studies have shown that up to four pounds of lead may be present in a typical computer system! That is a lot of heavy metals to be throwing away into our landfills.

I ran across the CHaRM as I have been looking for a local facility to drop off the myriad of monitors, televisions, stereo equipment and computer towers I've collected over the years. Eco-Cycle provided many options for recycling a large array of different materials, many of which I never thought recyclable (asphalt and xrays for example). Recycling many of these materials are not free, however, as large amounts of manual disassembly and large storage spaces are required. Below is a listing of materials that are accepted (please check their site for updated information):


  • Monitors & TVs 19" or smaller: $10
  • Monitors & TVs 20" to 34": $15

  • Consoles and Big Screen TVs 35" or bigger: $30

  • Computer Towers/ CPUs: $8

  • Laptops: $4

  • Computer Printers (under 40 lbs): $8

  • Scanners, fax machines, etc.: $8 each

  • Universal Power Supply (UPS): $8

  • Keyboards, Mice, Cables, etc: NO CHARGE

  • Large miscellaneous computer equipment: 30 cents per pound

  • VCRs and satellite receivers: $8

  • Desktop Copiers: $8

  • Large Copiers (over 40 lbs): 30 cents per pound

  • Home stereo components (receiver, boombox, etc.) (NO speakers): $8

  • Cellular Phones: NO CHARGE

  • Land-line telephones and car stereos: $4

  • Video game systems: $4-$8 (depending on size)

  • Video and digital cameras: $2-$8 (depending on size)

  • PDAs, Gameboys, Walkmans: $2

  • Ink Jet and Laser Jet Printer Cartridges: NO CHARGE

  • Plastic Bags with a #2 or #4--clean, dry, and empty only (e.g. plastic dry cleaner bags, grocery bags, and newspaper bags): NO CHARGE

  • Books & Manuals: NO CHARGE

  • Athletic Shoes (no sandals, boots, other types of shoes; no shoes with metal, zippers, cleats, spikes, or mud): NO CHARGE

  • Textiles (clothing, bedding, fabrics, towels, and paired shoes; may be ripped or torn but must be clean; no socks, no underwear): NO CHARGE

  • Fire extinguishers: no charge for City of Boulder residents w/ID; $4 per extinguisher for non-residents

  • #6 White Block Foam Packaging : no charge for residents, $6/cu. yd. for businesses

At first glance, the Eco-Cycle site seemed as good as any other recycling website. Upon further inspection, though, the Eco-Cycle site is a wealth of information for recycling all along the front range, educational programs as well as information on how to reduce junk mail and other obnoxious paper mailings.

Eco-Cycle's mission is: "Working to Build a Zero Waste Community" and they have several initiatives to support this cause. Eco-Cycle provides many pickup stations in Boulder, Longmont and other spots along the front range where residents can drop off cardboard, paper, steel, aluminum, #1 and #2 plastics free of charge. Much of their funding is derived from the Boulder County Trash Tax. For more information, visit ecocycle.org

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Comments

I hope you don't delete my comments as I am honestly curious.

Is the Left's dismissal of basic and obvious economic realities a matter of (persistent) oversight, a matter of ignorance, or a matter of Lakoffian "framing" through omission?

I'm referring to the fact that - except for aluminum - it makes no economic sense to recycle any common material. The basic and obvious reason there are no natural markets for things like paper and glass is because they're made of stunningly common and available substances (wood and sand), and therefore it is cheaper in every way to dispose of the old and to create new.

Contrary to one of the many commandments of the eco-Left, the Earth is mostly empty, undeveloped and unoccupied, and therefore places to dispose of garbage are abundant and modern disposal methods make disposal affordable and safe.

The Left says they're opposed to corporate welfare, and yet they evangelize for massive subsidies of giant corporations like Waste Management so that WM can turn a profit hauling away paper, glass and other common, economically worthless trash.

A much grander example of the Left's discomfort with and dismissal of the basic and common-sense laws of economics is its furious push to destroy the only proven path to a cleaner environment - namely wealth production - by devastating the world's economies through the grand socialist fantasy of the Kyoto Protocols.

A cursory review of history reveals that wealth production tracks tightly with environmental cleanup, whereas centralized control and economic management by committee (e.g., USSR, IPCC-driven Kyoto Protocols) tracks tightly with poverty and environmental devastation.

Again, the Left ignores or denies the obvious reasons why collectivism tracks with poverty and environmental devastation. Just as the famous collectively owned "white bicycles" of Amsterdam and Cambridge, UK were quickly trashed ("...in one program tried in 1993 in Cambridge, United Kingdom, all 300 bicycles were stolen on the first day of operation, and the program was abandoned" - www.WikiPedia.com), collectively owned economies are trashed. This is explained by the obvious and common sense fact that things collectively owned are in fact owned by nobody. People do not care for the things they do not own. Those same people care deeply for, and invest much capital and labor in the things they do own.

The Left ignores basic economics.

How come?


Posted by: Recovered Leftist on 20 Feb 07

This requires point by point response.

1. Is the Left's dismissal of basic and obvious economic realities a matter of (persistent) oversight, a matter of ignorance, or a matter of Lakoffian "framing" through omission?

None of the above. In fact, those who are concerned with ecology are not overlooking economic realities. Instead, they are taking a longer-term view of economic realities that does not synch well with the irresponsible short-term view caused by pure profit motives.

To say that "common wastes" are easily hauled away and disposed of is to overlook the fact that many of those "common wastes" in fact become dangerous to the environment. Plastic trash alone has become a serious ecological issue in the oceans, where it not only chokes wildlife but can smother coral reefs, striking at the foundation of the food web. More complex wastes, such as the detritus of worn-out electronics, contain dangerous toxins. It's not all "wood and sand."

2. A cursory review of history reveals that wealth production tracks tightly with environmental cleanup, whereas centralized control and economic management by committee (e.g., USSR, IPCC-driven Kyoto Protocols) tracks tightly with poverty and environmental devastation.

A more comprehensive study of history shows that environmental cleanup tracks more closely with democracy. It was not free market mechanisms that spurred the ban of DDT, or the cleanup of Love Canal. Rather, it was the outrage of common citizens decrying the destruction of the ecology.

3. Contrary to one of the many commandments of the eco-Left, the Earth is mostly empty, undeveloped and unoccupied, and therefore places to dispose of garbage are abundant and modern disposal methods make disposal affordable and safe.

This is not quite the case. In fact, increasing amounts of trash from the industrialized world are ending up in the dubious stewardship of third-world nations. Trash must go somewhere, and generally it needs to go where someone is willing to compact it, process it, bury it, burn it, or undertake any of the number of ways we have developed to process our wastes. Waste processing has in fact become increasingly expensive in the US, so it is no surprise that poorer nations are becoming dumping grounds. However, the waste disposal processes in such countries are hardly safe.

In addition, by "undeveloped and unoccupied" you presumably mean "undevelopd and unoccupied by human beings." The distinction is important, because even the "empty" places of the earth contain vital ecologies which support all of life, including human life. Of course, in many cases we are still dumping blindly where we can't see the effects, particularly in our oceans. The damage is starting to appear, and it may be drastic.

4. The Left says they're opposed to corporate welfare, and yet they evangelize for massive subsidies of giant corporations like Waste Management so that WM can turn a profit hauling away paper, glass and other common, economically worthless trash.

This is a very broad statement. Some evidence or citation to support your point would be handy.

5. Again, the Left ignores or denies the obvious reasons why collectivism tracks with poverty and environmental devastation. Just as the famous collectively owned "white bicycles" of Amsterdam and Cambridge, UK were quickly trashed ("...in one program tried in 1993 in Cambridge, United Kingdom, all 300 bicycles were stolen on the first day of operation, and the program was abandoned" - www.WikiPedia.com), collectively owned economies are trashed.

How ironic that you are in fact using a collectively owned property as a source for making your point! WikiPedia is based upon an economy of the commons, and as you have noticed yourself, is quite useful. Increasingly we are coming to--or perhaps returning to--an understanding that all of our ecology is a commons, and that our ability to share it properly is in fact the basis of the creation of all wealth. This mythic "Left" you are raising up is not a good reflection of those who are working to repair our ecology, improve our industrial processes, manage our waste stream, and ensure a sustainable production of wealth. In fact, that monolithic "Left" probably doesn't exist. What does exist is a diverse, vibrant, and often contentious group of interests who are approaching a common understanding of our role within the ecology.

Good luck living on this earth.


Posted by: Christian on 20 Feb 07

Being unemployed I was wondering if I were to collect electrical components such as TV and monitor and cell phones,old computers etc. if their is any salvage value in silver solder or other items that I could make a little money on? I live on a farm in a very small community. Also is there any aluminum in any of these items that one could retrieve? What could I do in this field to make to money?


Posted by: Martie Beam on 3 Mar 07



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