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Trash cart conversion will take place from April through September.

  • Phase 1 – Completed.
  • Phase 2 – August 2017 in Five Points, Sunnyside, Highlands, Baker and Capitol Hill neighborhoods.
  • Phase 3 – September 2017 in Cherry Creek, City Park, Congress Park, Hale, Hilltop, Lowry, Montclair and South Park Hill neighborhoods.

If your home is impacted by the changes, keep an eye on your mailbox for information later this year.

image of 2017 trash cart conversion areas

Click here to view a map of the 2017 Cart Conversion Areas

Why Transition to Trash Carts?


image of city issued black trash cart

In 2010, the City outlined strategies to improve waste services in its ‘Master Plan for Managing Solid Waste in the Mile High City’. The plan called for service improvements designed to make waste collection more efficient and to reduce waste disposal by providing options to divert waste to better uses like recycling and composting.

Beginning this Spring, the City will roll out the final phase of converting households with dumpster or manual trash collection to cart-based trash service. This phase will provide the remaining 35,000 eligible residents with automated trash carts and provide equitable trash service to all 176,000 Denver households that qualify for Denver Public Works, Solid Waste Management services.

Benefits of Cart Based Trash Collection


  • Cleaner alleys and neighborhoods: Trash cart service helps decrease litter, graffiti, overflowing trash containers or bags while also reducing opportunities for people to illegally dump.
  • Increased recycling: Individual trash carts have proven to encourage Denver residents to recycle more.
  • Improved collection efficiency: Switching to one type of trash collection service makes collection more efficient by allowing for the standardization of trucks and trash containers. Cart collection trucks can pick up more trash and service more homes per route which helps to reduce the number of miles driven, fuel consumed and trucks needed.
  • Safer alleys and neighborhoods: Dumpsters obstruct alley views and provide potential hiding places for criminal activity. Removing dumpsters gives police patrols clear sight lines in the alleys and helps keep our alleys and neighborhoods safe.
  • Equal services citywide: Converting to trash cart service will lead to a trash and recycling system that is the same citywide. It also allows each resident to take responsibility for managing their own trash and eliminates the need for homes to have dumpsters behind their property.

General Questions

image of city issued black trash cart

The new trash cart is a city-issued black wheeled container that is similar to the purple recycling carts you can see throughout the City. The standard issue will be a 65-gallon cart. However, if you feel you need more capacity (large households), you can request a larger 95-gallon trash cart. If you feel you need less capacity (small households), you can request a smaller 35-gallon trash cart. 

To request a trash cart that is larger or smaller than the standard 65-gallon trash cart size, please call 311 (720-913-1311).

YES. About 141,000 homes in the City already have cart-based trash service, and the program has proven to work well in those locations. By the end of the 2017 transition, all eligible residential households in the City will have cart-based trash collection.

This year’s cart conversion will begin in April and continue through the end of September. As the schedule for conversion is finalized it will be posted on this site. Solid Waste Management staff will also provide on-going education to areas affected by the change. Tools like direct mail information, special neighborhood meetings and events, neighborhood list serves, and neighborhood newsletters will be utilized to make people aware of when and how the transition will take place.

In 2009 & 2010, the City spent a significant amount of time researching and developing recommendations to help residents reduce waste and allow the City to provide an efficient trash collection system. The planning process gathered public input through a series of neighborhood meetings and an online survey.

The 2010 Master Plan for Managing Waste in the Mile High City was supported by City Council. Unfortunately, at the same time support was received, the recession hit the City of Denver and implementation was delayed. In 2013, City Council set this plan as one of its top 10 funding priorities, and we are now coming to the end of its implementation.

NO. In order for the program to work efficiently and for the residents in your neighborhood to see the benefits of cart based service, the program must be consistent for all homes in the neighborhood.

Detailed instructions will be delivered to you with your new trash cart including your day of service.  While the City will have to make some minor service changes to accommodate the new system, it is expected that most residents that currently have trash collection in the alley will continue to receive trash cart service in the alley. Changes to where trash is collected will be kept to a minimum and only made in areas where they are absolutely necessary.

Solid Waste Management's guidelines require residents to store all solid waste containers (trash, recycle and/or compost) containers on their property and out of public view when possible. Carts may not be stored in the public right-of-way such as the alley or at the curb.

NO. The trash cart will be delivered to your home at no cost to you, and there is no fee for using the trash cart.

info-graphic on how many bags of trash will fit inside various trash cart sizes

Approximate cart measurements are as follows:

35 gallon = Cart weighs 25 lbs. empty

       Height = 40”, Width = 21”, Depth = 24”

65 gallon = Cart weighs 32 lbs. empty

      Height = 42”, Width = 27”, Depth = 32”

95 gallon = Cart weighs 40 lbs. empty

       Height = 46”, Width = 30”, Depth = 36”

YES. To request a trash cart that is larger or smaller than the standard 65-gallon trash cart size, please call 311 (720-913-1311).

info-graphic of how many bags of trash will fit inside various trash cart sizes

  • Most average sized households that recycle on a regular basis should consider a 65-GALLON trash cart.

Overall, the transition to carts is being made when dumpster or manual trucks reach their end of life. Therefore, instead of buying a new dumpster truck, Solid Waste Management will buy a new cart truck.  The cost of each truck is about the same so this is an expense the city would incur regardless of the type of collection.

The efficiencies gained by servicing the City with one method of trash collection will help to reduce the overall costs within our fleet department. Solid Waste Management gains efficiencies through not having to manage three different types of service containers, and we save money from the reduction in illegal dumping clean-up and increased route efficiencies.

Solid Waste management staff will host a large public meeting in each of the impacted areas and will attend Registered Neighborhood Organization meetings to discuss conversion information. A few weeks prior to the large public meetings, every impacted household will be mailed a meeting invitation. If you are active in an RNO and want to request a presentation, please email

Dumpster to Cart Only Questions

NO. In areas with dumpster service, the City collects almost double the amount of waste as those with carts. The reduction in waste associated with cart-based collection will allow trucks to stay on route longer which will speed up collection. Also, cart collection trucks are faster than dumpster collection trucks so each cart truck should service the same number of homes in a shorter period time.

NO. When a cart is assigned to a specific address, individuals take more responsibility for using their cart-based trash service properly. And unless a resident is using more than their fair share within the dumpster, the capacity of the individual household cart will be the same.  Solid Waste Management also provides Extra Trash collection every 4 weeks which gives residents the opportunity to set out extra trash bags that did not fit in their cart.

Also, when carts are stored properly, residents will not be subject to the unauthorized disposal of waste from people who don’t live in their neighborhood or who aren’t eligible for our service. Since most of the illegal dumping in the City occurs in dumpster-based service areas, the areas of the City with cart-based trash service have significantly lower rates of illegal dumping and have been shown overall to be much cleaner.

In areas with dumpsters, usually one dumpster is split between four homes, and four trash carts hold approximately the same amount of trash as one dumpster. Therefore, if each resident has been using their fair share of the dumpster, the capacity of the individual household cart will be the same. For those who generate a lot of waste, please call us at 311 (720-913-1311) or visit our website to learn how you can recycle more and reduce waste.

Manual to Cart Only Questions

The parts of Denver that have switched from manual to cart-based trash collection have seen a large improvement in the amount of overflowing trash containers and overall cleanliness of the alley. The new carts also have attached lids which helps keep trash inside the cart.  Each cart is the same size as three normal sized trash cans so you should gain more capacity with the carts.

One large trash cart will hold the same amount of trash as three 32-gallon trash cans. Solid Waste Management also provides Extra Trash collection every 4 weeks which gives residents the opportunity to set out extra trash bags that did not fit in their cart.

YES. As long as your manual trash containers are 32-gallons or smaller, they can be utilized for setting out your Extra Trash.


  • Containers in good condition can be resused as storage for sports equipment, gardening/yard utensils, a rain barrel, or donate it.

image of gray plastic trash container


  • For a limited time, Denver Recycles is accepting plastic manual trash containers and lids for recycling at the Cherry Creek Recycling Drop-Off. Only empty plastic trash containers will be accepted at the Drop-Off. No metal trash cans.



  • As a final alternative, plastic and metal trash containers can be removed as trash through our Extra Trash collection service. Be sure to mark “Take Can Too” on the containers for removal so collection crews know to take the containers.


A Master Plan For Managing Solid Waste in the Mile High City


The Master Plan provides the City with a vision — and options for implementation — for Denver’s future collection, transfer and disposal of solid waste, recyclables and organics. The Plan also assesses what is required by Public Works’ Solid Waste Management section to achieve Denver’s waste management goal of a 30% reduction in landfill tons, using 2004 as the base year.

Download the 2010 Solid Waste Master Plan


Master Plan PDF icon