Late in 2018, Eco-Cycle, a Boulder-based recycler, and COPIRG, the Colorado Public Interest Research Group, released their State of Recycling in Colorado report. Colorado generated a record 9.3 million tons of waste in 2017 and overall diverted just 12% of it to recycling centers, well below the national rate of 35%. Residential recycling rates in communities across the state vary widely from 9% to 61%, according to the report.
It is projected that Coloradoans could recycle 32% of its waste, including bottles, cans, and paper. National studies indicate that participation in recycling increases when communities make it convenient for consumers by bundling trash collection together with single-stream recycling in which all recyclable items are placed in one bin, to be sorted out at a processing facility. In addition, a variety of programs are being developed around the state to encourage effective recycling.
Widespread recycling could bring significant benefits to Colorado’s economy and environment. According to the State of Recycling in Colorado report, almost $250 million worth of recyclable material which is currently being thrown away could be recycled here in the state, generating jobs and improving local economies. Recycling creates on average nine times more jobs per ton of waste than landfills do. In support of our environment, increasing statewide recycling to 28% would decrease carbon emissions by over 2.2 million tons per year, reduce air and water pollution, and conserve natural resources. Recycling creates value from our waste, producing ongoing economic, environmental, and social benefits.
The greatest challenge for most consumers is knowing what to recycle and what not to. Sending only recyclable materials to processing centers reduces the added expense of sorting out inappropriate items and discarding them, and also protects valuable equipment from breaking down.
The Villager will be running an ongoing series of short notices in coming weeks designed to educate readers about the best practices in recycling. Consumers who understand the importance of recycling and who are educated about how to do it effectively can make a great contribution to improving life in Colorado. Look for Recycling Simplified notices in the Digs section.
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