Colorado floods affect recycling regulations

Colorado floods affect recycling regulations

By Bobby Elliott, Resource Recycling

Two weeks after a string of devastating floods hit their state, Colorado officials are working closely with county landfills and municipalities to support the debris management process -- and some recycling requirements are being put on hold to expedite the undertaking.

Through the state's updated debris management guidelines, residents of flood-affected counties are being permitted to take a wide range of flood debris, including e-scrap and large home appliances, to landfills. While recycling is being encouraged, the state has suspended a handful of regulatory requirements to speed up the debris management process, Colorado's solid waste permitting unit manager Roger Doak explained to Resource Recycling.

A landfill ban on e-scrap went into effect July 1, 2013, requiring Coloradans to bring their end-of-life electronics to certified recycling facilities in the state. While it is not known how long the suspension of that ban will hold in the hardest-hit areas, the cleanup process is expected to last months as more roads are cleared and the total amount of flood debris is assessed.

Doak added that the state has been assisting municipalities in "establish[ing] protective best management practices for temporary debris staging sights." Technical support has been offered to facilities damaged by the flooding and the state has provided residents with a map of all landfills currently open and able to accept debris.

While there is no official data available on the volume of flood debris received by landfills thus far, landfills have reported significant increases in tonnage. Larimer County director of solid waste Stephen Gillette estimated that landfills were receiving nearly double the amount of waste they typically receive. "If you're used to getting 1,000 tons per day and we're up to 1,700 tons, it's just that much more work," Gillette told the Denver Post last week. "It's busy, but we're managing."

Severe flooding during the month of September affected some 17 counties along the front range of Colorado, damaging and destroying many homes, highways and bridges and killing eight people. In addition to widespread debris left in the wake of the floods, numerous reports have detailed extensive oil and gas spills throughout the state.

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