Five Ways to Reduce Waste This School Year

Back to School Spotlight on Denver Public Schools (DPS) – Denver Recycles is proud to partner with DPS to provide recycling services and recycling education to all eligible Denver Public Schools facilities. Last school year, DPS students and staff recycled 1,130 tons of materials that would have otherwise ended up in a landfill! And, with a growing number of schools also adding compost collection to their lunchrooms, the number of total tons kept out of the landfill is growing larger each year. During the 2014-2015 school year, the twenty-one schools enrolled in the lunchroom compost program collected nearly 200 tons of food waste from their lunchrooms, which is more than 2,100 pounds per day! 

Whether your child attends a DPS school or another school or university, the back to school season is a great time to reboot and restore good recycling and waste reduction habits at school and at home. Best of all, it’s easy to reduce waste and support recycling here in Denver. Here are some helpful Reduce, Reuse, Recycle tips for the transition back into the school routine: 
  1. Pack lunches and snacks using reusable containers. You don’t even have to purchase these containers new- before you recycle them, consider reusing yogurt containers or jars to package your lunch. Note: plastic bags can be reused, but they are not accepted in purple recycling carts.
  2. Keep your purple cart in mind while shopping, and buy items that can be recycled. When purchasing food for school lunches, consider purchasing products that have minimal packaging, are sold in bulk, or come in packaging that can be recycled through the Denver Recycles program. For example, juice boxes can be recycled in purple carts, but juice pouches cannot.
  3. Purchase recycled-content products. Many school and office supplies are now being made with post-consumer content.  Be sure to read labels carefully and choose paper and plastic products made from post-consumer recycled materials. These products help close the recycling loop.
  4. Reduce food waste and compost lunchtime leftovers.  Encourge your child to bring uneaten food back home where you can either save it for another lunch or add it to your home compost system.
  5. Get involved with school recycling programs. Many school recycling programs rely on parent volunteers. Contact your child’s school to see how parents can get involved.
For more waste reduction and recycling information, visit

Recycling Paint Now Easy and Free with the Launch of Colorado’s New PaintCare® Program

As of July 1, 2015, it is now easier than ever to recycle paint in Colorado, thanks to the new Colorado Paintcare® Program. Residents and businesses can take unwanted and leftover paint to over one hundred participating paint retailers for recycling, and there is no charge to drop off paint at these participating PaintCare® sites. To find the nearest drop-off site for your paint, use PaintCare’s online search tool at or call the PaintCare® hotline at 855-724-6809.

PaintCare® sites accept all brands of old house paint, stain and varnish — even if they are 20 years old!  Interior and exterior house paint, latex and oil-based paints, primers, stains, sealers, enamels, shellac s, varnishes, deck coatings are all accepted for recycling in the PaintCare® program. All paint must be in original containers with identifying labels and all containers must be five gallons or smaller (limit of five gallons of paint accepted per visit). All containers must have secure lids. Open or leaking cans of paint will not be accepted.  Drop-off sites hours vary, so be sure to check when the drop-off site you are going to is open and available to accept paint for recycling.

Materials not accepted in the PaintCare® program include aerosols (spray cans), solvents, paint thinners, auto paints, art and craft paints, caulk, glues, epoxies, asphalt, tar, roof patch, deck cleaners, colorants and other products intended for industrial or non-architectural use.  Businesses and larger quantity generators that produce more than 220 pounds of hazardous waste per month will only be able to drop off latex paint.

The majority of the paint collected through the PaintCare® program will be recycled into new paint products.  Other paint materials may be converted and used as a fuel, made into other products or disposed of properly.  PaintCare® is funded by the “PaintCare Fee” which was added to the purchase price of paint sold in the Colorado starting July 1, 2015. When you buy paint, you will see a line item on your receipt or invoice for each container. Please note that this fee is not a deposit, and you will not get it back when you drop off paint at participating retailers. Instead, these fees are used to fund all aspects of the paint stewardship program. Fees will pay for paint collection, transportation, recycling, public outreach, program administration, and to manage old “legacy” paint — or the paint that has been accumulating in homes and businesses from before the program started.

To learn more about PaintCare and to find the nearest drop-off site, visit or call the PaintCare hotline at 855-724-6809.

Stop Wasting Food & Money. Take the Food Recovery Challenge.

Did you know that roughly 37 million tons of food was wasted in the United States in 2013, and that 95 percent of this material thrown away? 
Through the Food Recovery Challenge, the US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is partnering with organizations and businesses in order to prevent and reduce wasted food and encouraging consumers to reduce their waste as well. By participating in the Food Recovery Challenge, you can save money, protect the environment and help your community by purchasing less, donating 
your extra food, and composting. 

If your business or organization is looking to reduce wasted food through prevention, donation, or composting, consider becoming an official Food Recovery Challenge program participant. Program participants receive free technical assistance and a listing on the national EPA participant page. For more information and to join this challenge, visit

There are many ways that individuals can participate in the Food Recovery Challenge. Here are some quick tips on how to reduce wasted food in your home:
  • Shop your refrigerator first! Cook or eat what you already have at home before buying more.
  • Plan your menu before you go shopping and buy only those things on your menu.
  • Buy only what you realistically need and will use. Buying in bulk only saves money if you are able to use the food before it spoils.
  • If safe and healthy to do so, use the edible parts of food that you normally do not eat. For example, stale bread can be used to make croutons, beet tops can be sautéed for a delicious side dish, and vegetable scraps can be made into stock.
  • Find out how to store fruits and vegetables so they stay fresh longer inside or outside your refrigerator.
  • Freeze, preserve, or can your surplus fruits and vegetables - especially abundant seasonal produce.
  • Compost food scraps rather than throwing them away. Simply sign up for the Denver Composts program (if your home is eligible) or learn how to compost in your own back yard by taking a free Learn to Compost class, offered May through October. Visit or call 311 (720-913-1311) to learn more about both compost options.
  • Donate nutritious, safe, and untouched food to food banks to help those in need.
  • At restaurants, order only what you can finish by asking about portion sizes and being aware of side dishes included with entrees. Take any leftovers home with you and eat them as part of your next meal. 
Reducing wasted food will save you money, reduce methane emissions and lower your carbon footprint, conserve energy and resources, and support your community.  Visit the EPA at  for more information on how to start reducing your waste today!

The Carts are Here and the Results are Impressive!

Currently, Denver’s trash is collected in dumpsters, in manual trash cans, or in city-issued trash carts, depending on your location in the City.  Last summer, Denver Solid Waste Management began the four to five year process of converting all Solid Waste Management customers to a standardized trash collection system utilizing city-issued trash carts. The switch to trash carts is part of the City’s Master Plan for Managing Solid Waste and is happening for many reasons, including:
  • Cleaner alleys and neighborhoods- Carts reduce illegal dumping and litter.
  • Increased recycling- Carts are leading to more recycling.
  • Improved collection efficiency- Switching to one type of service city-wide helps increase the overall efficiency of the City’s Solid Waste Management system.
  • Safer alleys and neighborhoods- Removing dumpsters gets rid of potential hiding places in our alleys. 

CARTS ARE WORKINGNow that more than half the City has trash cart collection, Solid Waste Management is happy to say that the results indicate the program is working as planned. Observations in transitioned neighborhoods coupled with analysis of trash collection data show that:
  • Illegal dumping has decreased significantly in neighborhoods that have been transitioned to carts.
  • Recycling participation has increased by more than 13% in the new cart neighborhoods.
  • The pounds of trash thrown away are down by about 10 pounds per household, per week in the new cart neighborhoods, helping to reduce the overall transportation and disposal costs. 

The webpage is dedicated to providing information on the cart transition process. It includes maps, answers to frequently asked questions, and updates on upcoming public meetings. The public meetings are a great opportunity to talk to the trash collection crews and supervisors, and to get answers to any question you may have. Some of the common questions are: 
  1. When is this happening in my neighborhood? The entire City will have cart collection by the end of 2017 or early 2018. The neighborhoods impacted in 2015 include portions of:  Athmar Park, Auraria, Baker, Clayton, Cole, Cory-Merrill, Lincoln Park, Mar Lee, Ruby Hill, Skyland Sloan’s Lake, University, University Park, Valverde, Villa Park, Washington Park, West Colfax and Whittier.  
  2. How does it work? Each household is provided with one black 95-gallon trash cart. Trash is collected weekly and overflow trash is collected every three weeks. There is no charge for service. 
  3. Where do I store my cart and how do I set it out? Carts can be set out the day before your collection and must be returned to your property the day after collection. Carts must be stored on your property on non-collection days. 
For more answers and to stay up-to-date on the cart conversion, 
visit or call 311 (720-913-1311).

Recycle Your Appliances - It’s FREE and Easy

Recycling your discarded appliances in Denver is as easy 1, 2, 3. Simply make an appointment, set your old appliance out for collection and wait for it to get collected from your home. It’s that easy. Denver Solid Waste Management offers this service at no costs to residents to ensure that these discarded appliances are properly recycled in an environmental safe manner.  All metal components of the appliances get recycled and the Freon from refrigerated appliances is captured to prevent its release into the atmosphere. Remember, if your appliance is still in good working condition, consider giving it a second life by donating it to a thrift store before making an appointment to have it recycled.

Appliances accepted for FREE recycling include:
  • Refrigerators
  • Hot Water Heater
  • Freezers v  Furnaces
  • Air Conditioners
  • Dishwashers
  • Washers & Dryers
  • Microwave Ovens
  • Stoves/Ovens
To make an appliance collection appointment, just choose of the following options:
  1. Visit and fill out the online appointment scheduling request form; or
  2. Call 1-800-479-4159 to make an appointment over the phone.

Editor's Note:

The Denver Recycles’ Roundup is a periodic news column sponsored by Denver Recycles, a program of Denver Public Works/Solid Waste Management. It includes updates on seasonal and ongoing activities related to the City and County of Denver's recycling programs. Editors are invited to publish all or part of the column; however, we request that you run major edits by our staff to ensure accuracy of the information. Questions may be directed to Denver Recycles.