City Council Is Talking Trash
10/10/2013 7:57 AM
Accelerating implementation of Denver’s Solid Waste Master Plan (SWMP) is one of Council’s 2014 Budget Priorities. If you have been following the plastic bag fee debate in City Council then you have heard robust discussion about the city’s waste stream and the importance of finding ways to reduce the amount of waste going to the city’s landfill. This includes reducing our overall amount of waste, but also diverting larger amounts from the landfill through recycling and composting.
To inform this discussion, here are a few quick facts about Denver’s waste stream and some policy solutions suggested in the SWMP.
· Denver Public Works - Solid Waste Management serves 170,000 Denver households.
· The SWMP set a goal of a 30% reduction in Denver’s waste stream by 2020. We have made much progress but we still have a ways to go.
· Annually, Denver residents produce approximately 250,000 tons of waste – 220,000 tons of this is waste/compost and 30,000 tons is recycling.
· Each week, the average household produces 48 pounds of trash; 13 pounds of recycling; and nearly 30 pounds of compostable material. If you are not sure what is recyclable or compostable, click here to see a list.
· It is estimated that 57% of the waste stream is compostable.
· Denver Composts is a voluntary fee-based program. Click here to see if your household is eligible.
· Denver Composts serves approximately 2,500 households and collects 2,400 tons of compost annually. The program will be expanded in 2014.
· 69% of eligible Denver households participate in the Denver Recycles Program.
· Solid Waste Management hosts leaf/yard waste drop-off sites throughout the city every fall to divert this waste from the landfill. Click here to find locations.
· Solid Waste Management collects discarded Christmas trees every winter and provides free Christmas tree mulch to Denver residents in the spring. Click here for more information.
· Dumpsters are frequently cited as a cause of illegal dumping in Denver, and some research indicates dumpsters spur creation of more waste.
Policy solutions suggested in the SWMP:
· Convert from dumpsters to a 3-stream barrel system – Recycle, Compost, and Waste.
· Require Multi-Family Buildings with more than 7 units to provide recycling services. The city by ordinance does not collect trash or recycling from these buildings.
· Develop programs and policies to encourage restaurants to participate in both recycling and composting programs.
· Develop programs and policies to encourage recycling and reuse of construction materials.
· Implement Variable Rate Collection Pricing – also known as Pay-As-You-Throw - which would charge more for larger amounts of waste picked up.
The City Council made the request in its budget priorities to expand the composting program and do more to implement the SWMP. The Mayor’s Proposed 2014 Budget allocates enough to expand Denver Composts in 2014 - 2018. In addition, the budget allocates funds to convert the Globeville/Elyria/Swansea neighborhoods from dumpsters to trash barrels – a step towards the 3-stream barrel system.
In the spring of 2014, City Council spearheaded an initiative that brought 3-stream waste management to the City and County Building and Council offices. City Council, The Mayor and Solid Waste Management are working toward the goal, but achieving a 30% reduction will require participation by all Denver residents.
Check back next week to read about City Council’s 2014 budget request for the Department of Safety. This will be the final blog post in our series regarding City Council’s 2014 budget priorities..
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