IN JUNE, DENVER LAUNCHED a single-stream collection program for recyclables and expanded the list of materials residents can divert from their household trash cans. The city wants to decrease its landfillable waste.
Under the new program, the city is providing each household with a 65-gallon (gal.) wheeled cart in which all recyclables can be placed. Denver officials estimate that it could take up to five years before all of the city's homes have a new cart. Therefore, the city is encouraging residents that have yet to receive a cart to participate in the new collection program by using their old recycling bins.
As part of its previous recycling program, Denver provided each household with two, 18-gal. bins and mandated that residents separate newspapers from cans and bottles.
The expanded list of recyclables includes corrugated cardboard, junk mail, paperboard, office paper, magazines, phone books and brown paper bags. Previously, residents could only recycle newspapers, aluminum products, plastic bottles, glass bottles and jars, steel cans and empty aerosol cans.
Houston-based Recycles America Alliance processes the city's recyclables. Under the new program, the firm hopes to initially process up to 4,000 tons of recyclables a month and 10,000 tons by 2008.
Charlotte Pitt, recycling program manager for Denver Recycles, a program of Denver Solid Waste Management, says the city hopes the new program will generate renewed interest in recycling in the city and throughout Colorado.
Denver's residential recycling rate — which includes single-family home and apartments in buildings of seven units or less — is about 7 percent, according to Pitt.