Colorado lags behind the nation when it comes to recycling. According to a new report, the state’s recycling rate is 12 percent, far below the national average of 34 percent.
“It’s America Recycles Day, but unfortunately Colorado is downright trashy,” said Danny Katz, director of the Colorado Public Interest Research Group. “We might think of ourselves as a green state, but on average, each Coloradan is putting seven pounds of trash a day in landfills.”
The study, compiled by non-profits CoPIRG and Eco-Cycle, looked at the availability of curbside pickup, accessibility of drop-off sites and variety of different materials accepted. Katz says Colorado is lacking in all three areas.
“25 Colorado counties don’t offer curbside recycling services and seven counties don’t even have drop-off centers,” he said. “Our policies in Colorado are pushing us to do the wrong thing – throw everything in the trash can.”
Katz said the state’s recycling champions — the cities of Loveland, Boulder and Louisville — succeed because the cities themselves invest in these programs.
“The more that cities actually have this as a service for everybody, the cheaper it actually becomes,” said Katz. “So if we’re wanting to roll this out to all kinds of communities, the best strategy is to provide it for everybody, because then it lowers the cost for everybody.”
Both groups say local municipalities can improve their recycling programs and offer a few ideas to get them started.
- Track recycling, composting and trash rates.
- Expand curbside programs for recycling, including separate bins for compost, which makes up 50 percent of the average city’s waste stream.
- Work to ensure that people are not discouraged from recycling by having to pay additional fees or having carts picked up less often.
- Ensure that apartments and businesses have easy access to recycling.