Denver Recycles

Overview

On average, Denverites recycle only 63% of the recyclable waste generated by their household each year. Making small recycling changes can make a huge difference!

Recycling Directory

Cherry Creek Recycling Drop-off

Cherry Creek Recycling Drop-off

The Cherry Creek Recycling Drop-off provides a convenient and NO-COST way for Denver residents to keep extra recyclables out of the landfill and to compost yard debris, food scraps, and non-recyclable paper.

The Drop-off is open to Denver residents only. No commercial or landscaping company material will be accepted at this site. No trailer loads of yard debris are accepted at this site. 

For a complete list of accepted items, visit our Accepted for Recycling page.

NEW hours (as of January 2021):

Tuesdays - Fridays: 10 a.m. - 4:30 p.m.
Saturdays: 9 a.m. to 3 p.m.
Closed Sundays & Mondays and on all City Holidays.

 

The recycling Drop-off is located near the intersection of S. Quebec St. and E. Cherry Creek South Drive. Enter going south on Cherry Creek Dr. South (follow the signs).

 

 

 

Accepted for Recycling

Plastic

Plastic Containers

  • Rigid plastic bottles, jugs, jars, tubs, cups and containers marked with the #1 through #7 in the recycling symbols.
  • Examples include: Soda, water, shampoo, & soap bottles; milk, laundry detergent, & cat litter jugs; yogurt, sour cream, cottage cheese, & butter tubs; Peanut butter & mayonnaise jars; "To-go” & “take out” plastic drinking cups; Plastic trays like those used for microwave dinners; Clear "Clam-Shell” containers like those used to package strawberries, bakery goods & salads (remove as much of the price sticker from the plastic as possible); and Plastic egg cartons & cookie divider shells.

Not accepted

  • NO Plastic bags - Denver's #1 recycling contaminant.
  • NO Bubble wrap or envelopes with bubble wrap inside.
  • NO Candy or food wrappers. 
  • NO Cassettes, DVD's, CD's or plastic cases.
  • NO Containers larger than 3 gallons.
  • NO Garden hoses or plastic tubes.
  • NO Juice pouches.
  • NO "K-cups" or individual coffee creamers.
  • NO Plastic containers marked as “Compostable” or “PLA”.
  • NO Plastic flower pots.
  • NO Plastic shrink wrap
  • NO Plastic tubes (such as toothpaste or hair gel tubes).
  • NO Potato chip bags.
  • NO Styrofoam® or packing peanuts.
  • NO Toys.

 

Steel and Aerosol Cans

Steel and aerosol cans

  • Aerosol cans must be empty.
  • Labels are okay.
  • Remove plastic caps unless they are part of the can.
  • Spray nozzles are okay.

Not accepted

  • NO scrap metal
  • NO fuel canisters (camping tanks)
  • NO full or partially-full aerosol cans
  • Do NOT puncture cans

 

Glass

Glass bottles and jars

  • Food & beverage glass bottles and jars only.
  • Remove lids.
  • Large metal lids can be recycled, but still must be removed.

Not accepted

  • NO Glassware (such as vases or drinking cups)
  • NO Window glass
  • NO Ceramics

Aluminum

Aluminum cans, foil, and pie plates

  • Aluminum cans, foil, trays, and pie plates .
  • Remove as much food residue as possible.
  • Do not crush aluminum cans.

Not accepted

  • NO Foil bags (such as potato chip bags).
  • NO Foil "yogurt" lids.

Cardboard

Cardboard

  • Flatten and cut to pieces no larger than 2 feet by 2 feet.
  • Only broken down boxes inside the cart will be collected for recycling.
  • Pizza boxes accepted, if not greased through to the other side.

Paperboard boxes

  • Flatten or cut into pieces no larger than 2 feet by 2 feet.
  • Remove plastic bags, plastic film or wax paper bags.
  • Acceptable items include: Boxes for cereal, tissues, beverages, food, soap, etc.; Gift, shirt & shoe boxes; Hanging file folders; Paper egg cartons; Paper towel & toilet paper tubes; Frozen food boxes (but not the ones that have a waxy, white coating on the inside).

No accepted

  • NO Foil-coated paperboard
  • NO Waxed cardboard

Paper

Cartons and hot/cold paper cups

  • All food and beverage cartons including: Milk (dairy, soy & almond), juice, cream, egg white & egg substitute, soup & broth, protein drinks, eggnog, wine, tofu, small juice boxes and ice cream & frozen yogurt.
  • All cold paper cups and hot coffee cups: Paper cups must be clean and empty. Paper cups must be bare — all sleeves, lids, straws and stirring sticks must be removed.
  • Be sure to empty all food & liquid, and remove straws & caps.
  • Do not flatten cartons

Newspapers, magazines, and catalogs

  • Remove plastic bags and wrap.
  • Discard non-paper inserts such as magnets or sample packets.
  • Includes phone books.

Office paper and junk mail

  • Window envelopes are okay to recycle.
  • Paperclips, stamps, staples, tape and sticky notes are okay.
  • Acceptable items include: Opened mail,  greeting cards (non-foiled coated), Postcards, index cards & file folders, Loose leaf & legal pad paper, Stationary, letterhead, copy & typing paper; Paper envelopes (plastic windows okay); and Brochures & glossy ads.

Paper bags

  • Remove food wrappings and any food.
  • Department store "non-glossy" type paper bags are okay, but remove rope handles.

Not accepted

We are NOT accepting any wrapping paper this holiday season and until further notice.

  • NO tissue paper, ribbon or bows.
  • NO bubble envelopes or Tyvek® (polyethylene fiber) envelopes, such as some overnight mailing envelopes.
  • NO shredded paper.
  • NO Paper plates.
  • NO Paperback or hardcover books.
  • NO Paper Towels, Tissues, or Napkins.

 

Ordering Take-out? Here are Some Recycling Tips:

Take-out Recycling Tips

1. Before you order:

  • If you're eating at home, let the delivery service or restaurant know that you do not need plastic utensils or condiment packets. Use your own instead.

2. Reuse

  • Is your plastic container reusable? Repurpose the sturdy ones for food storage.
  • Plastic bags can be repurposed as small trash bags or pet waste bags. Use them for the smaller trash bins in bathrooms and bedrooms. You can also use them for mini litter clean-ups!

3. Recycle right:

Accepted:

  • Rigid plastic containers, labeled #1-7, can be recycled. Empty and rinse. Plastic lids can be placed back on the plastic container for recycling.
  • Hot or cold beverage cups can be recycled. The lids and straws are trash. This includes paper soup containers. 
  • Pizza boxes (not greased through to the other side)
  • Aluminum trays/containers

Not Accepted:

  • Condiment packets      
  • Food
  • Paper clamshells
  • Paper take-out boxes
  • Plastic bags 
  • Plastic utensils 
  • Styrofoam
  • Straws
  • Small plastic containers and lids (less than 2"x2"), such as sauce  and condiment containers.

And remember, when in doubt, throw it out! Let's keep contamination out of our purple carts.

 

 

Recycling Service FAQs 

Are businesses and apartments eligible for recycling services?

Denver Recycles, a program of the City & County of Denver Department of Transportation and Infrastructure, Solid Waste Management, is only authorized to provide services to residential homes of seven or fewer units and our own municipal facilities. Denver Recycles is not authorized to provide services to commercial properties such as businesses and apartment communities.  Please visit our Apartment and Multi-family Recycling page for information on trash/recycle/compost at these buildings. Visit our Hauler Licensing page for information on other trash/recycle/compost services in Denver.

 

 

How should I set out cardboard for recycling collection?

Cardboard recycling steps:

  1. Flatten and break down all cardboard boxes into pieces no larger than 2 feet by 2 feet. This will help make sure the cardboard isn't taking up usable space in the cart. 
  2. Place your cardboard inside of the recycle cart - not against it or on the ground. Cardboard left outside of your recycling cart will not get recycled, even if it is flattened and stacked next to your cart. Instead, it will either be left behind or picked up as extra trash and sent to the landfill.
  3. OR leave cardboard out of your cart until your recycling day. On your recycling day, lay it flat in the cart on top of the rest of your recyclables and close the lid to at least a 45 degree angle. This will help ensure that your cardboard doesn’t get stuck in the cart and will enable you to fit more cardboard in your purple cart.

Remember:

  • Clean pizza boxes are okay to recycle. Greasy pizza boxes should not go in your purple cart.
  • Following these simple guidelines maximizes space in your cart, prevents cardboard from getting jammed in your cart, ensures all your cardboard is recycled, and maximizes the efficiency of our collections so that we can better serve you.

 

If a plastic container has a recycling symbol on it, is it recyclable?

NO! The recycling symbol on containers represents the general category of plastic that material is made from, but does not mean the container is recyclable. Plastics vary greatly by their resin types and how they are manufactured.  There are also two common manufacturing processes: plastic bottles are “blow molded,” whereas, most plastic tubs are “injection molded.”  As a result of the different resin types, the different manufacturing processes, and the different mixes of chemical additives, (dyes, plasticizers, UV inhibitors, softeners, adhesives and more) plastics melt at different temperatures, have different physical properties, and as such need to be recycled differently.

Once plastics are separated into their varying categories they must then be shipped to a recycler.  The distance to these plastic markets can be large and the cost to ship certain types of plastic to distant processing facilities may simply be more expensive than the material’s value.  Some markets are very limited and are overstocked with plastics for recycling. All of these parts of the recycling process can affect a city's ability to accept certain plastics.

How clean should my items be for recycling?

Denver Recycles asks residents to make sure that bottles, jars, pie tins, and other containers are empty before putting them in with your recycling. Containers do not need to be completely free of all food residue. Generally, a quick rinse is sufficient. Thicker food residue in containers, like peanut butter jars, might need a little more rinsing or even a wiping out of the food residue. As long as containers are empty and free of most food residue they are acceptable for recycling. 

 

What are the benefits of recycling?

Conserves Natural Resources:

  • The average American uses seven trees a year in paper, wood, and other products made from trees. This amounts to about 2 billion trees per year! [“50 Simple Thins Kids Can Do To Save The Earth” by The Earth Work Group]
  • More than 100 million trees’ worth of bulk mail arrives in American mailboxes each year.  That’s the equivalent of deforesting the entire Rocky Mountain National Park every four months. [Rocky Mountain News, 4/21/07]

Lowers Greenhouse Gas Emissions:

  • If an average family of four were to recycle all of its mixed plastic waste, nearly 340 pounds of carbon equivalent emissions could be reduced each year.  [U.S. EPA]
  • Currently, the U.S. recycles approximately 32 percent of its waste which saves an equivalent amount of greenhouse gases to removing 39.6 million cars from the road.  Increasing the recycling rate to 35 percent would reduce greenhouse gas emissions by an additional 5.2 Million Metric Tons of Carbon Dioxide Equivalent.  [U.S. EPA]
  • Recycling all of its office paper waste for one year, an office building of 7,000 workers could reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 546 Metric Tons of Carbon Dioxide Equivalent. This is the equivalent to taking nearly 400 cars off the road that year. [U.S. EPA]

Reduce Need for Landfills

  • Enough plastic bottles are thrown away each year to circle the earth four times. [“The Recycler’s Handbook” by Earth Work Group]
  • Recycling one ton of aluminum saves approximately 10 cubic yards of landfill space. [U.S. EPA]  

Saves Energy

  • Making new aluminum cans from used cans takes 95 percent less energy than making cans from raw aluminum bauxite ore. [Reynolds Metal Company
  • One ton of recycled office paper saves approximately: 4,100 Kwh of energy; 9 barrels of oil; or 54 million BTU's of energy.  [U.S. EPA]  

Reduces Air & Groundwater Pollution

  • Recycling glass reduces related air pollution by 20% and water pollution by 50%. [Glass Packaging Institute]
  • Recycling one ton of newsprint saves an estimated 7,000 gallons of water.  [U.S. EPA]
  • Recycling benefits the air and water by creating a net reduction in ten major categories of air pollutants and eight major categories of water pollutants. [National Recycling Coalition]

Creates Jobs and Reduces Disposal Costs:

  • Public sector investment in local recycling programs pays great dividends by creating private sector jobs. For every job collecting recyclables, there are 26 jobs in processing the materials and manufacturing them into new products.  [National Recycling Coalition]
  • Recycling creates 1.1 million U.S. jobs, $236 billion in gross annual sales and $37 billion in annual payrolls. [National Recycling Coalition] 

Appliance Collection

Denver residents serviced by Solid Waste Management may schedule a FREE appliance collection by appointment. Appliance collections are done by the city's contractor (EcoProjex) to ensure that metals are recycled and Freon gases from refrigerated appliances are handled in an environmentally safe manner.

Accepted appliances for collection:

  • Stoves/Ovens 
  • Hot Water Heaters
  • Furnaces
  • Dishwashers
  • Microwave Ovens
  • Refrigerators*
  • Freezers*
  • Air Conditioners*
  • Washers & Dryers

*Contain Freon gas

To schedule an appliance collection appointment:

Call: 720-799-5140  

Schedule a collection online

Electronics Recycling

E-cycle Coupon Program

*IMPORTANT* All expired 2020 coupons will be accepted by Blue Star Recyclers through February, 2021. 

Denver Recycles offers Denver residents an "E-cycle Coupon" for recycling televisions, monitors, and other electronic items. The E-cycle coupon will allow Denver residents to drop off their televisions, monitors, and other electronic items at a significantly discounted rate. Denver residents may request an E-cycle coupon by completing the online form. Limit one coupon per household, per calendar year. Resident must live in Denver County.  Coupons are mailed within 2-3 weeks of your request. 

Please be sure to safeguard your personal data by wiping your laptops, computers, and cellular phones before handing devices off for recycling or reuse.  Generally, deleting all personal files and reinstalling your operating system to factory settings will be sufficient to complete this task.

*Coupon is valid for drop-offs only.   

Request an E-cycle Coupon

Accepted for recycling

Televisions, monitors, CPUs, laptops, printers, scanners, faxes, keyboards, mice, stereos, external hard drives & storage devices, coffee makers, vacuums, blenders, toasters, cellular phones, telephones, DVRs, VCRs, digital cameras, video recorders, MP3 players, video game consoles, rechargeable batteries, sprinkler control boxes, wires, cables and some small appliances such as microwaves.

NOT accepted for recycling

Air conditioners, refrigerators, large appliances, garbage disposals, humidifiers, smoke or carbon monoxide detectors, pressurized canisters, oil or gas devices, fluorescent bulbs, neon signs, car batteries, small button batteries or household batteries (rechargeable batteries okay).

 

E-Waste Banned from Disposal in Colorado Landfills

Disposing of electronic equipment in the trash is illegal in Colorado as of July 1, 2013, in accordance with Colorado’s Electronic Recycling Jobs Act (SB 12-133, 4/20/12). 

Electronics contain a variety of harmful, and in some cases even toxic substances, that when discarded can pose risks to our health and the environment. Toxic metals and materials commonly found in electronics includes Arsenic, Barium, Beryllium, Cadmium, Chromium, Dioxins, Phosphorus, Lead, Lithium, Mercury, Selenium and Silver.Electronic devices banned from Colorado landfills includes: television sets, central processing units (CPUs), computer monitors, peripherals, printers, fax machines, laptops, notebooks, ultra books, net books, electronic tablets, digital video disc (DVD) players, video cassette recorders (VCRs), radios, stereos, video game consoles and video display devices with viewing screens greater than four inches diagonally.Denver Recycles offers resources like an E-cycle Coupon and special collection events to assist you with recycling your unwanted electronics. There are also free and low cost recycling options through local retailers and manufacturers.

About our Electronics Recycling Partner 

 

Blue Star Recyclers is e-Stewards® Certified and an award-winning 501(c)(3) social enterprise whose mission is to recycle electronics while employing people with autism and other disabilities. Certified e-Stewards are leading North American electronics recyclers who are qualified as upholding the highest standard of environmental and social responsibility.

image of Blue Star Recyclers team

 24-karat challenge award 2020