Denver To Address Trash Collection Challenges with Improvements

Published on November 10, 2021

Map of Denver Solid Waste Management new 2022 routes/collection districts to enhance its trash and recycling collection services.

 Denver to Address Trash Collection Challenges, Driver Shortages with Process Improvements

New routes will improve service delivery, reduce environmental impact

DENVER – Denver’s Department of Transportation and Infrastructure (DOTI) is announcing new routes to enhance its trash and recycling collection services amid driver shortages and other challenges posed by the pandemic. Next year, DOTI will be adjusting how drivers move through the city to make operations more efficient and trash collection services more reliable and consistent.

“In response to a national problem, we’re implementing a Denver solution to maintain the high levels of service our customers are used to receiving,” said Adam Phipps, Interim Executive Director of DOTI. “Our approach involves two asks: we’ll ask our operators to drive new routes next year and 70% of our customers to set out their bins on a different day of the week.”

While DOTI has been able to keep up with collections for the most part, sustaining a missed pickup rate of less than one percent of total pickups per month, keeping up has required increasing amounts of overtime and weekend work. The Department is looking to fill 30 of its 131 driver positions with $2,500 signing bonuses. Acknowledging the value of employees that have worked diligently throughout the pandemic, DOTI initiated competitive pay increases to drivers based on total years of experience using a Commercial Driver's License.

Highlights of the improvements set to begin January 3, 2022, include:

  • Implementing denser, more compact routes to collect the additional trash that Denverites are setting out as work from home trends continue. 19,000 more tons were collected through October of this year as compared to the same time period in 2019 (pre-pandemic).
  • Moving to a district approach and assigning regular staff to each district to ensure more consistency and fewer missed pickups.
  • Efficient routing that will result in 62,000 fewer miles driven and reductions in fuel use and greenhouse gas emissions.
  • Moving to a four-day, Monday through Thursday, collection schedule instead of a five-day collection schedule. Fridays can be used for catchup work, illegal dumping complaints and holiday pickups that previously pushed collections to Saturdays, reducing overtime and the need to work weekends.

Residents are urged to look for DOTI’s Wastewise newsletter in their mailboxes in December that will confirm which day of the week they’ll set out their bins in the new year. 2022 collection calendars will be available at www.denvergov.org/reroute in early December and starting January 3 via:

This is the first time in more than 15 years that DOTI has made significant routing adjustments while the city has grown by about 200,000 people in that same time period. Updated routes will help DOTI maximize its existing resources and reduce transportation costs.

FAQ Fact Sheet for new trash, recycling and compost collection routes

2022 Denver Trash Collection Districts - Full Size map