Recycling the hard-to-recycle


Whether you have a recyclables pick-up service or you use a collection center, there are probably still times when you wonder, “Where do I recycle this?” Like that box of old paint cans, or out-of-date textbooks that not even thrift Charmaine Ortega Getz shops accept — hoping to put those things outdoors with a “free” sign? Good luck.

How about that ugly utility sink or worn roofing shingles your contractor says he’ll dispose of in a landfill?

As for old computers and other electronic discards, sure, there are places now that will take them, but are their toxic innards actually being recycled safely by pros, or haphazardly by Third-World villagers?

If on the packaging of an item it says poison, toxic, corrosive, volatile, flammable, inflammable, combustible, explosive, danger, caution, warning or harmful, then it should not end up in a landfill where it will leach into the environment.

Check out the Household Hazardous Waste page of the Boulder County Resource Conservation website: hhwhome.htm.

It will tell you what the drop-off center at 5880 Butte Mill Rd. in Boulder accepts, its hours, and how to transport it safely. It’s free for most Boulder County residents. Louisville charges residents a $10 copay per visit to help pay program costs. For more information, call 720- 564-2220.

• Roofing shingles — Yes, that huge pile of asphalt tearoff that would molder eternally in a landfill can be transformed. Roofs to Roads Colorado is a program that recycles shingles into road paving (you can see a sample stretch on North 63rd Street). It’s as easy to get the shingles collected as it is to dump them in a landfill and costs less. For more information, see, or call 720-333-7416.

Other building materials — You can dispose of almost anything in good condition at the ReSource Yard & Architectural Salvage Services, at 6400 Arapahoe Rd. in Boulder. Windows, siding, doors, sinks, lumber, landscaping materials, hardware, furniture, even old solar panels. Check out the website for guidelines at index.php, or call 303-419-5418.

Drop-off is free, and donations are tax-deductible. However, the staff can reject items that are already overstocked or deemed not resellable. (This place is catnip for thrifty shoppers.) Pickup/delivery is available.

• Just about everything else — 5030 Pearl St. is where Boulder’s single-stream, harder-to-recycle things go after city pick-up. At the Center for Hard-to-Recycle Materials (CHaRM), run by EcoCycle, you can leave urinals, yoga mats, bike parts, cooking oil, Styrofoam blocks, electronics and more.

“We don’t take anything we don’t have a market for,” says Manager Dan Matsch. “And we belong to e-Stewards, an organization that audits where recyclers’ electronics items go.”

So you’ll know your old computer, for example, will not be picked apart barehanded by Third-World children.

Small fees are sometimes required, so — as with other recyclers listed here — be sure to check ahead at cfm, 303-444-6634 or 303-772- 7300.


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