Skip navigation

DENVER RECYCLES' ROUNDUP

 

Denver Compost Challenge: Don’t Waste the Good Stuff, and Start Composting Now!

Did you know? Organic materials such as leaves, branches, grass clippings and food scraps make up more than 50% of what Denver residents send to the landfill each year. To meet Denver’s 2020 Sustainability Goal of reaching a 34% recycling and composting rate, Denverites need to recycle and compost 31,000 tons more each year. In other words, we need to stop wasting the good stuff, and start composting it instead!

 

 

To help ensure that Denver will meet its 2020 Sustainability Goal, Denver Recycles has partnered with community members and the Denver Sustainable Neighborhoods Program to offer the 2019 Denver Compost Challenge. The goals of the Challenge are simple, and there’s an option for everyone to participate. The Challenge goals include increasing the number of residents composting through the Denver Composts program (or other options), decreasing contamination in compost, and building community connectedness. 

 

Denver Recycles encourages everyone to choose one, or choose all of the compost options. And fortunately, there’s at least one option that will work for every Denver household! 

 

Here’s how to get started:

  • Sign up for Denver Composts. The Denver Composts program is perfect for keeping food waste (including meat, dairy and bones), yard debris, and non-recyclable paper out of your trash cart and out of the landfill too. Compost collection service is provided by Denver Solid Waste Management for $9.75 per month (billed quarterly), and the green cart is collected weekly. For homes not eligible for the Denver Composts program, there are other options available in Denver. Options can be found at DenverGov.org/Compost
  • Utilize the Cherry Creek Recycling Drop-off. All Denver residents are welcome to bring their recyclable and compostable materials to this site, Tuesday through Saturday. This option is great for the occasional overage of compostable materials or for residents that are not eligible for the Denver Composts program.
  • Compost in your backyard. Composting in your backyard is a great option, and it’s easier than you might think! Not to mention, Denver offers hands-on Learn to Backyard Compost classes to give you the skills and know-how to get started. More information and registration can be found at Dug.org/compost.
  • Start a worm box and vermicompost. This option is especially great for apartment-dwellers and others with limited space. Worm boxes fit nicely under kitchen sinks, and will quickly turn kitchen food scraps into nutrient-rich compost! Look for the special “Worm Workshop” classes offered as part of the Learn to Backyard Compost class schedule. 

For more information about the many ways to compost in Denver and to find the toolkit for engaging your neighbors in the Denver Compost Challenge, visit DenverGov.org/Compost or call 311 (720-913-1311).


Give Yourself a Break This Summer by Grasscycling

Save yourself time and energy this growing season by grasscycling, or simply leaving your grass clippings on your lawn after mowing. Grasscycling makes mowing quicker and easier, and is the natural way to return nutrients to your lawn.

More than a quarter of Denver’s household trash is composed of yard debris, and grass clippings account for a large portion of this material from April to September. By grasscycling, you can help stop this material from ending up in landfills and have a real impact on reducing greenhouse gas emissions. If you’re not already a grasscycling pro, now is the time to start!  

 

 

 

Tips for how to grasscycle successfully:

 

  1. Use any mower. Remove the mower collection bag to allow clippings to fall back on the lawn. If your mower does not have a safety flap covering the opening over which the bag fits, you may need to purchase a retrofit kit from your local hardware store.
  2. Mow when grass is dry. Wet grass clippings clump together and do not feed your lawn as well as dry grass clippings.
  3. Follow the “1/3 Rule.” To foster healthy grass, do not cut more than 1/3 of the length of the grass at any time, and make sure that clippings are no more than one-inch long. Lawns are healthiest when they are mowed to a height of 2 ½ to 3 inches.

 

If you hire a landscaper to mow, be sure to ask them to adopt grasscycling methods when mowing your lawn.

 

Visit DenverGov.org/DenverRecycles for more information about grasscycling and other resources for reducing your waste.


Sign up for a FREE Learn to Backyard Compost Class

Spring is here, and it’s time to take your recycling and gardening efforts to the next level by learning how to compost in your own backyard! Get started today by signing up for one of Denver Recycles’ and Denver Urban Gardens’ free Learn to Backyard Compost classes. These hands-on classes will show you just how easy and fun it is to make your own compost from food scraps and yard debris such as leaves, brush, and even weeds!

 

Organic materials such as leaves, branches, grass clippings and food scraps make up more than half of what Denver residents send to the landfill each year. Making and utilizing compost at home is easy and it will leave you with a sense of accomplishment and some finished compost that can be used as a soil amendment around your home.

Free Learn to Backyard Compost classes begin on Sunday, May 5th and are offered through mid-October at the Denver Compost Demonstration Site (located within the Gove Community Garden on the southwest corner of 13th Avenue and Colorado Boulevard).  Each of the regular two-hour Learn to Backyard Compost classes includes an overview of composting basics, such as how to prepare organic material, how to create the proper mix of browns (carbon) to greens (nitrogen), how to properly water and turn your compost pile or tumbler, and how to troubleshoot problems. In addition to the traditional composting techniques outlined in all classes, a total of six Worm Workshop classes will focus specifically on vermicomposting (worm composting) techniques.

Registration for all classes is on a first-come, first-served basis and will open one month prior to each class date. Pre-registration is required. To sign up for classes, visit dug.org/compost or call 303-292-9900.

Denver’s FREE Learn to Backyard Compost classes are sponsored by Denver Recycles and Denver Urban Gardens.  For more information about the many ways to compost, please visit DenverGov.org/Compost or call 311 (720-913-1311).


A Denverite’s Guide to Celebrating International Compost Awareness Week, May 5 – May 11!

 The United States Composting Council (USCC) has declared the week of May 5 to May 11 International   Compost Awareness Week, and this year’s theme is “Cool the Climate, Compost!”

By composting once-living materials such as leaves, branches, and food scraps, organic materials are kept out of the landfill where they would otherwise break down and create a harmful greenhouse gas known as methane. Avoiding the creation of methane is one benefit of composting, but it’s not the complete picture.  When applied to soil, finished compost also kickstarts soil’s ability to store, or sequester, carbon thanks to the actions of microorganisms in the soil. Not only does composting keep harmful carbon out of the atmosphere, it also holds the key to drawing carbon down out of the atmosphere, which helps cool the climate.

 

International Compost Awareness Week Poster 

 

If you think this is as cool as we do and want to see Denver become even more compost aware, here are a few tips for how to celebrate International Compost Awareness Week in style:  

  • Join the 2019 Denver Compost Challenge and commit to composting even more! Visit DenverGov.org/Compost  to find details on the many ways to compost and to gather useful tools for engaging your neighbors in the composting process. Be sure to also check where your neighborhood stands on the Denver Composts neighborhood leader board.  
  • Stop by the Mulch Giveaway and Compost Sale on Saturday, May 4 to purchase discounted bulk and bagged compost made from the materials collected from Denver’s green compost carts and LeafDrop program. Compost is available for purchase at this event, and mulch is available for free.  
  • Sign up for a FREE Learn to Backyard Compost class taught by Denver’s Master Composter volunteers. Classes begin Sunday, May 5, and are offered through mid-October at the Denver Compost Demonstration Site. Visit Dug.org/Compost to sign up.  
  • Purchase a bag (or two) of Denver’s Own EcoGro™ Compost at your neighborhood Ace Hardware store and help close the compost loop, locally. After all, returning finished compost to the soil is just as important as placing compostable materials in your green cart each week.

Additional information about International Compost Awareness Week can be found at CompostFoundation.org/ICAW. For additional information about composting programs and information offered by Denver Recycles, visit DenverGov.org/Compost or call 311 (720-913-1311).


Save the Date! The Mulch Giveaway & Compost Sale is Saturday, May 4

Denver residents looking to start the garden and landscaping season off right won’t want to miss Denver Recycles’ Annual Mulch Giveaway & Compost Sale on Saturday, May 4 from 8 AM to 2 PM. The main event site, located at the Havana Nursery (Smith Road & Havana Street), will have mulch available for free and compost available for purchase at significantly reduced prices. There will also be four satellite sites for “dig-your-own” mulch located around Denver. 

 

PLEASE REMEMBER:

  • This is a one-day event and your only opportunity to purchase discounted bulk and bagged compost from the Denver Composts program. Don’t miss out!
  • Compost will only be available at the Havana Nursery site (10450 Smith Rd., just south of I-70 on Havana St.), and only while supplies last. Compost will be available in one-cubic-foot bags for $4.00 per bag and in bulk for $35.00 per cubic yard. Complimentary compost loader service available for bulk compost purchases. There is no “dig-your-own” compost option. Limit of 20 bags or 3 cubic yards per vehicle.
  • Free mulch will be available at the Havana Nursery site and at four additional “dig-your-own” mulch satellite sites, while supplies last.  Complimentary mulch loader service available at the Havana site only. 
  • The four “dig-your-own” mulch sites are as follows:
    • Bear Creek Park (South of Dartmouth Ave. on Raleigh St.)
    • Fred Thomas Park (Quebec St. & 26th Ave.)
    • Sloan’s Lake Park (Sheridan Blvd. & 17th Ave.)
    • Veterans' Park (Iowa Ave. & Vine St.)

Compost is a great soil amendment that can be used to improve soil in new construction projects, landscape renovations, backyard gardens, container gardens and even houseplants. Compost is widely recognized for its ability to improve soil structure, reduce water needs, and add soil nutrients and beneficial microorganisms. The compost sold at this event is made in part from leaves collected from last fall's LeafDrop program and from the yard debris and food waste collected through the Denver Composts program.

The mulch for this event is made from ground up Christmas trees collected through the Treecycle program, and from storm debris branches removed from Denver parks. Mulch can be applied to landscaped areas to control weeds, retain soil moisture, and protect shallow-rooted plants. 

EVENT REMINDERS:

  1. Residents must bring their own pitchfork or shovel for loading mulch, and bags or containers for transporting mulch.
  2. Residents must bring their own tarps to cover loads of mulch and/or compost in trucks and trailers.
  3. Commercial entities are prohibited from taking mulch and purchasing compost offered at this event.
  4. The Mulch Giveaway & Compost Sale is for Denver residents only.

The Mulch Giveaway & Compost Sale is sponsored by the City and County of Denver’s Department of Public Works’ Denver Recycles program and Denver Parks and Recreation, in partnership with A1 Organics.  For more information about this event and other Denver Recycles programs, please visit us at DenverGov.org/Mulch or call 311 (720-913-1311).

 


Help Keep Denver Beautiful by Recycling at the “Great Denver Cleanup” on May 18

If a cleanup around your home or neighborhood is on your spring to-do list, then you won’t want to miss out on the opportunity to participate in this year’s Great Denver Cleanup.  This one-day event is a great opportunity to recycle, compost, and dispose of unwanted materials from your home, yard, and around your neighborhood. Just bring your unwanted items to one of four FREE drop-off sites located around Denver on Saturday, May 18th from 9 AM to 2 PM.

 

The following items are accepted at this one-day event, but must be sorted by type and kept separate from trash to ensure that they can be properly recycled or composted:

  • Yard Debris – Includes clean material such as brush, branches, and leaves.
  • Large Rigid Plastics- Includes items such as laundry baskets, large toys, play centers, kid pools, lawn furniture, 5-gallon buckets and old plastic storage tubs. Please no coolers. (Note: Large rigid plastics are not accepted in your Denver Recycles purple cart, as they are too large for the normal collection and sorting process. Don’t miss out on this opportunity to recycle your large rigid plastics, for free, at this event).
  • Furniture, Box springs, and Mattresses – These items are accepted in any condition.
  • Clothing and Shoes – These items are accepted in any condition.
  • Cardboard – Cardboard must be flattened. (Note: Flattened cardboard is always accepted in Denver Recycles’ purple carts and at the Cherry Creek Recycling Drop-off).
  • Large Pieces of Glass – Only glass windows, table tops, and shower doors are accepted at this event. (Note: Regular glass bottles and jars are always accepted in Denver Recycles’ purple carts and at the Cherry Creek Recycling Drop-off. Large pieces of glass, such as the materials accepted at this event are not accepted in the Denver Recycles’ purple carts).
  • Tires – Limit of 9 tires per vehicle (State Regulation), only clean passenger tires will be accepted, no rims, no tractor or loader tires.
  • Scrap Metal – Includes aluminum, all grades of steel, cast iron, insulated wire, brass, automotive scraps

Materials NOT accepted at this event:

  • NO Electronics – no TV’s, no computers, etc.
  • NO Batteries or light bulbs
  • NO Household hazardous waste - paint, chemicals, liquids etc.
  • NO Building, construction/demolition, or commercial landscape materials

The FREE Great Denver Cleanup drop-off sites are as follows:

  1. North High School (Northwest) 2960 N. Speer Blvd, Denver, CO 80211
  2. Public Works Roslyn Facility (Northeast) 5440 Roslyn St., Denver, CO 80216
  3. Public Works Central Platte Facility (Southwest) 1271 W. Bayaud Ave., Denver, CO 80223
  4. Public Works Cherry Creek Transfer Station (Southeast) 7301 E. Jewell Ave., Denver, CO 80231

The Great Denver Cleanup is a one-day event organized by Keep Denver Beautiful, a program of Denver Public Works/Solid Waste Management. For additional information about the Great Denver Cleanup event and other Keep Denver Beautiful programs, visit DenverGov.org/KDB or call 311 (720-913-1311).


Refuse & Reuse for Less Waste

Even better than recycling, the number one way to reduce waste is to not create it in the first place.  Not creating waste requires refusing disposable items, and reusing and repairing products that you already have.

 

There are lots of ways to stop waste before it starts.  One of the first steps you can take is to stop buying and using disposable products. Here are some examples:

1.       Bring your own reusable water bottle wherever you go.  Add water bottle to the list of items that you run through in your head before leaving the house - keys, wallet, phone, water bottle - and you’ll be on your way to making this part of your daily routine.

2.       Bring your own reusable travel mug. Most coffee shops will give a discount for providing your own mug, and your drink will stay hot longer too!  

3.       Bring your own tote bag every time you shop and say no thanks to plastic and paper shopping bags.  Most stores provide a discount for each bag you bring.  

No matter how small or insignificant an item may seem, making a product new from raw materials requires the energy-intensive and resource-intensive steps of removing material from the earth, processing it, manufacturing it into something useful, and transporting it to wherever it will be sold. All these steps require a lot of energy, and have an environmental impact. So, rather than using an item just once, it’s best to find items that can be reused.  To really make your efforts count, be sure to use your reusable fabric tote bags, travel mug and/or water bottle regularly and resist replacing them just because you like the color or logo of another reusable product better. 

Let’s put an end to single-use waste. Incorporating durable, reusable items (preferably ones you already have), into your daily routine is a great way to curb a throw-away lifestyle, save money, and prevent litter. Visit DenverGov.org/Refuse-Reuse to learn more and to take the Refuse & Reuse pledge.


Save the Food! Preventing Food Waste Starts With All of Us

The Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC) estimates that up to 40% of food in the United States is wasted. While some of this food waste occurs outside of our immediate control as part of the complex national food system, a large percent of this waste can be controlled a little closer to home. In fact, NRDC found that upwards of 40% of the food wasted in Denver was generated from households. This makes households the single largest generator of food waste in Denver, and therefore, a great location to focus on reducing food waste.

 

While no reasonable Denver resident would intentially throw away hundreds of dollars worth of food each year, that’s essentially what we’re all doing.  The average American family of four spends an estimated $1,800 per year on food that they don’t eat!

In a recent study of Denver households, the NRDC found that the average amount of food wasted, per person, in households included in this study was about 4.2 pounds of food per week. Of that, more than 76% of this wasted food could have been eaten (for example – a banana peel is considered an inedible food scrap in this study, but a discarded piece of banana is considered edible). If this situation sounds alarming, it certainly is. However, there is hope, and there are lots of great tools to help change things, especially in our homes. 

Here are a few quick tips and resources from SavetheFood.com to help prevent food from going to waste in the first place:

When we waste food, we’re essentially wasting everything that was used to produce it-- including water, energy, labor, fuel, time, and of course, money.  Even though the Denver Composts program can accept food scraps and food waste for composting, it’s always better to prevent food from going to waste in the first place.

For additional waste reduction tips, information about the Denver Composts program, and all other services offered by Denver Solid Waste Management, visit Denvergov.org/DenverRecycles or call 311 (720-913-1311).


Will You Be Our Customer?

Denver Recycles is asking you to show your love for Denver by becoming a Denver Composts customer. In addition to supporting Denver in reaching it’s 2020 Sustainability Goals, composting also helps keep material out of the landfill, reduces greenhouse gas emissions, and creates a valuable soil amendment that can be used to build healthy soil. Beyond these benefits and showing your support to the city that you love, ordering a green compost cart now will make it easy to compost that wilted bouquet of flowers and uneaten Valentine’s Day sweets later. It’s truly a win, win, win!

 

In case you’re not convinced, here are a few more reasons to order order your green Denver Composts cart today!

  1. Spring is almost here, and green carts can help you manage the increase in yard debris that comes with the change of the seasons.  Along with food scraps and non-recyclable paper, the Denver Composts program accepts yard debris such as leaves, grass clippings, perennials, and even weeds that you pull from your lawn and/or garden.
  2. Signing up and participating in the Denver Composts program is easy and impactful.  You can sign up Denver Composts program in minutes, and once you do, you’ll be a participant in a program that keeps more than 9,000 tons of food waste, yard debris and non-recyclable paper out of the landfill each year.
  3. Sharing is caring, and we don’t mind if you share your cart.  Our goal is to get compostable materials composted. If splitting the cost and sharing a compost cart with your neighbor is what works best for you, we’re all for it.

To learn more and sign up for the Denver Composts program, visit DenverGov.org/GoGreen  or call 311 (720-913-1311).

Lend a Hand and Adopt-a-Spot in Denver

 

Denver’s Adopt-a-Spot program is a great resource for residents that are motivated to help keep Denver a clean and safe place to live and play.

The program is free, and perfect for groups of all sizes and participants of all ages. Groups ranging from organized civic groups, to families, to schools are encouraged to Adopt-a-Spot in Denver and commit to maintaining this spot for a year (or more!).

 

 

Adopting a spot is not only impactful, but also rewarding. Here’s what the commitment entails:

  • Maintaining a stretch of road, alley or open area (public right-of-way) for one year.
  • Providing the person-power to pick up litter, remove illegal signs and report graffiti vandalism.
  • Notifying the Keep Denver Beautiful program staff of planned cleanup dates so that supplies can be provided, and trash removal can be scheduled.
 

Denver’s Keep Denver Beautiful program staff is here to help you with your commitment and can provide organizational help, safety and procedure training, supplies such as bags, safety vests, work gloves and tools (as needed), and trash pick-up after each cleanup. Your group will also receive a customized sign to advertise your commitment.

 If your school group, business, church, family, or another group wants to commit to adopting a spot, more information can be found online at DenverGov.org/KDB  or by calling 311. For more information about all other services and programs offered by Denver Solid Waste Management, visit denvergov.org/trashandrecycling  or call 311 (720-913-1311).


Help Denver Meet its 2020 Recycling and Composting Goal!

In 2018, Denver households generated about 230,000 tons of waste, but only recycled and composted about 57,000 tons of this material. To achieve our 2020 goal of reaching a 34% recycling and composting rate, Denver residents will need to recycle and compost 22,000 more tons per year, which is approximately one more pound, per household, per day! In other words, we can do this!

Getting one more pound of recyclable and compostable materials out of the trash cart and into a recycle or compost cart is easy. Here are some quick actions that you can take today to make this happen:   

Compost more! Nearly 50% of the material in Denver’s trash can be composted. 

  • Sign up for Denver composts. The Denver Composts program is perfect for keeping food waste, yard debris and non-recyclable paper out of your trash (and out of the landfill). Compost collection service is provided by the City for $9.75 per month (billed quarterly), and the green cart is emptied weekly.
  • Learn more about all your composting options, including backyard composting and vermicomposting, at DenverGov.org/Compost.

Recycle more! Nearly 25% of the material in Denver’s trash can be recycled.

  • Do your part to reduce the number of recyclables that mistakenly end up in the trash. Brush up on the list of materials accepted in the Denver Recycles’ program at DenverGov.org/DenverRecycles, and practice your sorting skills with the Denver Recycles Waste Sorting Game.  
  • Increase your recycling capacity by upsizing to a larger purple recycle cart. Many residents have 65-gallon purple carts that can be exchanged for larger, 95-gallon purple carts. If a large purple cart isn’t enough, your home can also request a second recycle cart. 
 

 

Reduce the size of your black trash cart.

  • Your black trash cart comes in three sizes (35-, 65- and 95-gallon). Downsizing to a smaller cart will save space around your home and encourage stronger recycling and composting habits.
 

For information about general waste reduction, the Denver Recycles program, and all services offered by Denver Solid Waste Management, visit www.DenverGov.org/DenverRecycles, or call 311 (720-913-1311).


2019 Recycling Dates You Won’t Want to Miss!

Here in Denver, recycling is a year-round event!

In addition to dutifully filling green and purple carts throughout the year, Denver residents can look forward to a variety of seasonal programs that target extra materials (such as fall leaves) or other materials that don’t belong in Denver’s regular recycling or composting carts (such electronics, holiday lights and paint).  While not all 2019 program and event dates have been set, there are some upcoming highlights and a few noteworthy dates to keep on your radar starting now. 

 

 

 
  • Denver Treecycle 2019. Denver’s Treecycle collections occur during the week of December 31st and the week of January 7th. Don’t miss out on your chance to recycle your holiday tree for free in 2019! If you do miss the Treecycle collection period, be sure to drop your tree off at one of two Treecycle drop-off sites that are open through January 31st.
  • Recycle Your Holiday Lights. Holiday lights are accepted for recycling at the Cherry Creek Recycling Drop-off through January 19th.
  • Mulch Giveaway and Compost Sale & Learn to Backyard Compost Classes. The annual Mulch Giveaway and Compost Sale is set for May 4th. Claim free mulch made from the the Treecycle program, and purchase compost made from the Denver Composts program at this event. This date also serves as a kick-off to the International Compost Awareness Week celebration and the start of Denver’s 2019 free Learn to Backyard Compost class series (the first Learn to Backyard Compost class of the season is on May 5th).
  • Denver’s Graffiti Brushoff. Help Denver brush off graffiti along the East Colfax corridor on September 14th.    
  • America Recycling Day. While recycling should be celebrated every day, November 15th is a great day to do so. Keep an eye out for suggestions for how to celebrate.
  • To-Be-Announced. Stay tuned for the yet-to-be-announced 2019 dates for programs such as LeafDrop, the Great Denver Cleanup, electronics recycling events, and more. 

The events included above are only a small sample of what’s to come in 2019. Stay connected with Denver Recycles for seasonal and special event announcements in 2019! Some of the easiest ways to stay connected include following Denver Recycles on social media, setting up collection reminders, and downloading the Denver Trash and Recyling app.

For information about all programs and services offered by Denver Solid Waste Management, visit www.DenverGov.org/DenverRecycles, or call 311 (720-913-1311).


Apply to Become a Denver Master Composter

Now is the perfect time to become an expert composter and recycler, and to help curb the culture of waste in Denver! The Denver Master Composter Training Program offers Denver residents a unique opportunity to learn about composting and recycling topics, and to give back to the community by sharing this information with others. Through classroom seminars and hands-on experiences, Master Composter participants study a broad range of topics, including the science behind the composting process, compost pile construction, resource conservation, and recycling. In return, Master Composters share this knowledge with the community by teaching free “Learn to Compost” workshops and by participating in outreach events at community gardens, schools and local farmers’ markets. Through learning and giving back to the community, Master Compost volunteers also build a community of their own – one of like-minded individuals that are motivated to make positive changes in Denver.

 

group of volunteers at compost facility 

Master Composter Participants at A1 Organics’ Commercial Compost Facility in 2018

 

Stay In The Know With a Customized Solid Waste Management Service Reminder!

screenshot of phone with app on screenKeeping track of weekly, every-other-week, and every-four-week services can be challenging. Fortunately, a variety of collection reminder options are available to help Denver residents remember their trash, recycling and compost service schedules.

Denver Solid Waste Management customers are encouraged to use the following collection reminder tools:

  • Phone Call Reminders: Select the time you would like to receive a reminder call on the day before your collection day.
  • Email Reminders: Select the day and time you would like to receive your collection reminder.
  • Calendar Download: Download your service calendars to Google, iCal or Outlook. Or, save or print a PDF.
  • App Reminders: Download the Denver Trash and Recycling app to view calendar information, access the Recycling Directory and Waste Sorting Game, and set up customized push notifications. (Note: the Denver Trash and Recycling app is available at the App Store and Google Play in both English and Spanish.)

All collection reminder options, including the app, are free and can be deleted at any time. Don’t delay! Join the thousands of Denver residents already utilizing collection reminders.

Curious about other electronic resources offered by Denver Recycles? These additional resources are available on the Denver Recycles website and within the Denver Trash and Recycling app:

  • Denver Recycles Recycling Directory: Search and locate recycling options for hundreds of household items, including those that don’t belong in your purple cart.
  • Denver Recycles Waste Sorting Game: Put your recycling skills to the test by sorting your way through all five levels (Tip: Be sure to save your certificate for bragging rights).

For additional information about Denver Recycles, collection reminders, and all other services offered by Denver Solid Waste Management, visit Denvergov.org/DenverRecycles or call 311 (720-913-1311).

Keep These Items OUT of Your Purple Cart!

Closing the loop and using recycled material rather than virgin materials to make new products is proven to reduce our impact on the environment by reducing resource use, reducing energy and water use, and by reducing greenhouse gas emissions. Denver residents that recycle using their purple carts and purchase materials made with recycled-content are directly involved in closing the loop, but it’s important to note that Denver residents must also take responsibility for keeping this process moving smoothly by only placing acceptable materials in their purple carts.

Recyclables placed in Denver’s purple recycle carts are collected by Denver Solid Waste Management trucks and transported to Denver’s material recovery facility (or “MRF” for short) for processing. At the MRF, the recyclable materials are sorted into like items, and then compacted into large cubes, called bales, that are loaded onto trucks and trains for transportation to manufacturing facilities where new products are made from recycled materials. 

Sorting the recyclables from your purple carts isn’t an easy job. Denver’s MRF uses a combination of heavy equipment, conveyor belts, screens, robots, magnets, and people to make this possible.  The sorting equipment at the MRF is designed to handle a large volume of acceptable materials.  However, even small quantities of materials not accepted in Denver’s recycling program can damage the equipment at the MRF and slow the process down.  While all contaminants are problematic and costly to remove, certain items rise to the top of the “keep these out of your purple cart” list.

image of items to keep out of recycling cart

The top four items to keep out of your purple cart include:

  • Bagged Recyclables. Only loose recyclables can be sorted at the MRF. Placing recyclables inside plastic bags could result in the entire bag being thrown out. The best option is to keep plastic bags out of purple carts entirely.
  • Plastic Bags or Film. Just as bagged recyclables are a problem for a MRF, the MRF also cannot handle loose plastic bags or other plastic films. For bags that can’t be avoided in the first place, consider taking these bags and films back to the grocery store instead. The group, Plastic Film Recycling, maintains a list of plastic film drop-off centers across the country: https://www.plasticfilmrecycling.org/.
  • Scrap Metal. The only metal accepted in Denver’s purple carts are steel cans, and aluminum cans, trays, pie tins and foil. All other metal is considered scrap metal and should be kept out of purple carts.  A list of local scrap metal recyclers is included in the Denver Recycles’ online Recycling Directory.
  • Tanglers. Cords, hoses and chains are never accepted in purple carts and can cause damage to sorting equipment that is both costly and time-consuming to repair. Remember to keep these out of your purple cart!

For more information about Denver's recycling guidelines, the Recycling Directory, and other services offered by Denver Solid Waste Management, visit DenverGov.org/DenverRecycles or call 311 (720-913-1311).


Denver is Building Good Recycling Habits at Home and at School!

Denver Public Schools Recycles

It’s back-to-school season, and Denver’s schools are coming back to life with the start of a new school year. While many things can change from year to year at individual schools, one thing remains the same across the board — Denver Public Schools is committed to recycling!  For nearly a decade, Denver Public Schools and Denver Recycles have partnered to provide trash, recycling and compost collection at 160+ Denver schools across the City. Denver Solid Waste Management collection crews collect materials from school facilities, and both District and City staff work together to educate students and keep programs running smoothly.

Individual school recycling and composting programs wouldn’t be possible without the hard work and dedication of teachers, students, administrators, facilty managers, kitchen staff, parents, and other individuals involved with school operations. Before kicking off another great year of parthership, it’s worth celebrating the accomplishments from the 2017-2018 school year.

During the 2017-2018 school year, Denver Public Schools:

  • Recycled more than 3,000,000 pounds of material across the entire school district.
  • Composted more than 566,000 pounds of discarded food waste from 30 school cafeterias. 
  • Added 3 schools to the cafeteria composting program, bringing the total number of schools with cafeteria composting programs to 31.
  • Maintained and supported more than 160 school recycling programs.

In all, DPS kept 19% of its waste out of the landfill last school year. This school year, Denver Recycles looks forward to helping the DPS community in engaging an even greater number of students and staff in our recycling and composting programs.

For classroom resources, additional information about the DPS / Denver Recycles partnership, and for all other services offered by Denver Solid Waste Management, visit DenverGov.org/DenverRecycles or call 311 (720-913-1311).


The Top 6 Things You Might Not Know About Denver Solid Waste Management

Denver Public WorksIn Denver, trash, recycling and compost collection are provided to single family homes by Denver Public Works’ Solid Waste Management Division. Most Denver residents are aware of the cart-based services available to them, but they are often not aware of some of the other great services and resources provided.

To make sure you’re not missing out, check out this list of lesser-known services:

  • Household Hazardous Waste Collection. Make your home a healthy home by disposing of harmful materials in the safe and responsible way. Sign up for a Household Hazardous Waste collection appointment online. Note that some restrictions apply, and there is a $15 copay for this program. 
  • Keep Denver Beautiful Program. Keeping Denver beautiful is a community effort, and Denver Solid Waste Management can help the community by supplying resources for one-time or ongoing beautification projects, as well as, hosting annual City and County of Denver cleanup events. 
  • FREE Appliance Recycling Collection. Bulky metal appliances are clumsy and heavy to move. Save yourself time and effort by scheduling an appointment to have your household appliances picked up for free. Appointments can be made online or over the phone. 
  • Discounted Electronics Recycling Coupons. Request an “E-Cycle” coupon to receive a discount when you drop off your electronics at Denver’s contracted electronics recycler. Remember, electronics are banned from landfill disposal in Colorado, and not collected by Denver Solid Waste Management crews. 
  • Online Resources. Keep track of upcoming collections with collection calendars, phone/email reminders, and the Denver Trash and Recycling app. The Recycling Directory will point you in the right direction with where to recycle tricky items. And the Denver Recycles Waste Sorting Game will help you hone your virtual sorting skills so that you can perfect your sorting skills at home. 
  • Denver Partners Against Graffiti and Brush-Off. There are many ways to help keep Denver graffiti free. Report graffiti, place requests to have graffiti removed, request supplies to remove graffiti yourself, or volunteer at the annual Brush-Off event being held on September 15, 2018.

From appliance collection appointments to graffiti removal, Denver Solid Waste has you covered for more than just the basics of trash, recycling and compost collection. For additional information about services offered by Denver Solid Waste Management, visit DenverGov.org/DenverRecycles or call 311 (720-913-1311).

Composting is One Solution to our Food Waste Problem, But It’s Not a Silver Bullet

EPA food recovery pyramid informationThere’s no denying that food is a huge part of our daily lives. Food is woven into our everyday routines (multiple times per day),it is part of our celebrations, our traditions, and ultimately, our cultural identity. Despite the important role that food plays in all of our lives, Americans are guilty of wasting a lot of the food that we grow, process, distribute, and purchase. The Natural Resources Defense Council estimates that more than 40% of food is wasted, from farm to fork. And, when we waste food, we’re essentially wasting everything that was used to produce it-- including water, energy, time, and of course, money. The average American family of four spends roughly $1,500 on food that they don’t eat!

Since wasting food wastes everything that went into making it, it should come as no surprise that cities like Denver are looking to decrease the amount of food that ends up in trash carts. According to a recent waste audit by Denver Solid Waste Management, food is actually the largest single item found in Denver’s trash carts. Since tossing edible food in the trash is wasteful and also generates greenhouse gases as it decomposes in our landfill, landfilling this material should be done only as a last resort. Composting is certainly preferred over landfilling, but reducing the amount of food that goes to waste in the first place is the best possible solution. The EPA’s Food Recovery Hierarchy is a helpful tool in prioritizing methods of food waste prevention

Here are three quick tips and resources from Save the Food to help prevent food waste in the first place:

The Natural Resource Defense Council’s Save the Food website, www.savethefood.com, is full of great resources to help prevent food waste. For additional information about composting and other services offered by Denver Solid Waste Management, visit DenverGov.org/DenverRecycles, or call 311 (720-913-1311).


School’s Out for Summer! Summer Safety Reminders from Denver Solid Waste Management

photo of back warning sign on trash truckSummer is officially here! School is out of session, the days are longer, and Denverites of all ages are taking advantage of the warm weather. The streets and alleys are full of walkers, bikers, kids, and of course, their dogs. On top of the increase in pedestrian traffic, the summer months are the busiest months for Denver Solid Waste Management’s trash, recycling and compost collection crews.

To keep up with summer activities and the waste associated with them, there are more than 100 trucks collecting material in Denver’s neighborhoods on any given weekday. While Denver’s talented collection crews are always on the lookout for cars, people and pets, it’s just as important for Denver residents to be aware and alert this summer while sharing the streets and alleys with collection trucks.

Below are a few safety reminders for Denver residents:  

  • Be aware — Denver’s trash, recycle and compost trucks are large, heavy, and challenging to operate. Each truck weighs between 30 and 50 tons, so it’s important to steer clear and give them room to maneuver and stay back!
  • Be patient — emptying carts takes time. Denver’s specialized collection trucks are designed to be efficient at collecting carts, but they might not move as quickly down the street as the rest of traffic. If you find yourself behind a collection vehicle, be patient and make sure they see you. Aggressively passing collection vehicles is unsafe for everyone.
  • Listen for beeping. Loud beeping is the sign of a truck backing up (which is sometimes required to service some of the tight streets and alleys around town). Always stay clear of trucks especially when they’re backing up.
  • Be smart, and help keep kids safe. Observing trucks and waving at drivers is great, but this should always be done from a distance. Help teach kids to use caution around all vehicles (large and small), whether they’re moving or not.

Keeping Denver safe is a community effort, and Solid Waste Management needs your help keeping residents and collection crews out of harm’s way this summer (and year-round!). For additional information about services offered by Denver Solid Waste Management, visit DenverGov.org/DenverRecycles or call 311 (720-913-1311).

Tossing Your Old Textiles is So Last Year – Recycle Them Instead!

photo of pile of used clothesAccording to national estimates, Americans generate nearly 16 million tons of textile waste each year (think clothes, sheets, towels, etc.), yet only 15% of that waste gets recycled. This equates to more than 70 pounds of textile waste, per person, per year!

Despite the many textile recycling options available for Denver residents, approximately 3% of the trash collected by Denver Solid Waste Management is textile waste (that’s about 10 million pounds per year!).

Help us change this trend by following the tips below.  

REDUCE

  • Rent! Don’t Buy. Believe it or not, the sharing economy extends to clothing too. Whether it’s a wedding, another formal occasion, or day-to-day clothes, local retailers and online platforms offer opportunities to rent suits, gowns, work clothes and other accessories.
  • Host or Attend a Clothing Swap. Just because you’re tired of a pair of pants or shirt you’ve had in your closet for years, it might be just what someone else is looking for. Use a clothing swap as an excuse to get together with friends and freshen up your wardrobe.

REUSE AND RECYCLE

  • Thrift Stores. Whether it’s for clothing or for repurposing, your unwanted clothing is still in high demand. Some Denver area thrift stores take clothing even if it’s stained, ripped or otherwise unfit for wear. Be sure to always check the clothing donation guidelines for your local thrift store prior to dropping anything off.
  • Textile Recyclers. Look for drop-boxes located all over the Denver metro area. Clothes donated to these outlets are shipped abroad to be used as secondhand clothing, or they’re turned into cleaning rags or carpet padding here in the U.S. Check the Denver Recycles’ Recycling Directory for drop-off options near you.

BE A RESPONSIBLE CONSUMER

  • Buy Second-Hand or Vintage. From casual consignment stores, to costume shops, to bridal boutiques, Denver area businesses have you covered with second-hand options.
  • Buy Recycled-Content. The recycling industry is sustained through the demand for products made from recycled-content materials. Check labels for recycled-content the next time you buy clothing, shoes, carpeting, or cleaning rags. These items are commonly made with recycled or repurposed textiles, or other recycled materials.
  • Support Products Backed by “Extended Producer Responsibility.” Look for retailer-sponsored repair and/or take-back programs for textiles. These programs help to encourage higher-quality materials, repairable designs, and/or materials that can be recycled.

Denver Recycles does not accept textiles in its purple cart recycling program, but a full list of local textile recycling options can be found online using the Denver Recycles’ Recycling Directory. For additional information about all other recycling options in Denver, visit DenverGov.org/DenverRecycles, or call 311 (720-913-1311).


Give Yourself a Break This Summer by Grasscycling

Save yourself time and energy this growing season by grasscycling, which is the process of leaving your grass clippings on your lawn after mowing. Grasscycling makes mowing quicker and easier, and is the natural way to return nutrients to your lawn.

photo of lawn mower mowing green grassMore than a quarter of Denver’s household trash is composed of yard debris, and grass clippings account for a large portion of this material from April to September. By grasscycling, you can help stop this material from ending up in landfills and have a real impact on reducing greenhouse gas emissions. If you’re not already a grasscycling pro, give it a try this summer! 

TIPS FOR HOW TO GRASSCYCLE SUCCESSFULLY:

1.  USE ANY MOWER. Remove the mower collection bag to allow clippings to fall back on the lawn. If your mower does not have a safety flap covering the opening over which the bag fits, then you may need to purchase a retrofit kit from your local hardware store.

2.  MOW WHEN IT’S DRY. Wet grass clippings clump together and do not feed your lawn as well as dry grass clippings.

3. FOLLOW THE “1/3 RULE.” To foster healthy grass, do not cut more than 1/3 of the length of the grass at any time, and make sure that clippings are no more than one-inch long. Lawns are healthiest when they are mowed to a height of 2 ½ to 3 inches.

If you hire a landscaper to mow, be sure to ask them to adopt grasscycling methods when mowing your lawn.

Visit DenverGov.org/DenverRecycles for more information about grasscycling and other resources for reducing your waste.


A Denverite’s Guide to Composting Methods: Find What’s Right for Your Home!

graphic of composting optionsEven though Denverites are recycling and composting more and more each year, an alarming amount of “good stuff” (otherwise known as recyclable and compostable material) is still ending up in Denver’s landfill. As shocking as it may sound, more than half of the materials Denver residents currently send to the landfill are organic (once living) materials and could have been composted. Denver can certainly do better, and doing so starts with decisions made in your home!

Denver Recycles offers a number of tools to help Denver residents reduce the amount of material ending up in Denver’s trash. Not every approach is feasible or appropriate for every home, but there is something that can work for everyone. To maximize the benefits of keeping this “good stuff” out of the landfill, Denver Recycles encourages residents to choose one, two, or all of the compost options outlined below.

The options below can and should be combined for best results at your home and for maximum benefit to the environment:

  • Denver Composts! Enroll in Denver’s fee-based compost collection program and receive a green kitchen compost pail, a green compost cart, and weekly collection service. This program accepts food, non-recyclable paper products, and yard debris. Denver Composts! is now offered in all Denver neighborhoods!
  • Backyard Composting. Backyard composting is a fun and rewarding way to reduce waste and create a useful compost product in your own backyard. To learn more about the backyard composting process, build skills, or just boost your confidence in your ability to turn food scraps and garden debris into compost at home, consider signing up for one of Denver’s FREE Learn to Backyard Compost (offered May through October at Denver’s Backyard Compost Demonstration Site). Or, just make a trip to Denver’s Backyard Compost Demonstration Site to find inspiration, and to check out the various methods and containers that can be used for backyard composting.
  • Worm Composting. Worm composting, also known as vermicomposting, is an indoor composting option available to everyone, and an ideal option for apartment dwellers and anyone else with limited space. A healthy worm box full of red-wiggler worms will happily consume their weight in veggie scraps and leaves each week, producing a high-quality soil amendment that can be used to feed gardens and houseplants alike.
  • Cherry Creek Recycling Drop-off (CCRD). The Cherry Creek Recycling Drop-off accepts single-stream recyclables and all material accepted in the Denver Composts! program. The site is open Tuesday through Friday from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m., and Saturdays from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m., and is especially helpful for the occasional surplus of compostable (or recyclable) materials.

No matter how it’s done, composting is an approachable and meaningful action that helps Denver residents decrease their impact on the climate, conserve resources, reduce pollution, and improve soil health. And, composting is essential for Denver to be able to meet its 2020 Sustainability Goal of keeping 34% of its waste out of the landfill.  For these reasons, Denver Recycles encourages residents to choose one or all the above options for managing organic waste at home! 

Don’t delay — start composting even more, today! For more information about backyard compost, Denver Composts!, and other Denver Recycles programs, visit DenverGov.org/DenverRecycles or call 311 (720-913-1311).


Sign up for FREE Learn to Backyard Compost Classes!

graphic of Learn to Backyard Compost bannerSpring is here, and it’s time to take your recycling and gardening efforts to the next level by learning how to compost in your own backyard! Get started today by signing up for one of Denver Recycles’ and Denver Urban Gardens’ FREE Learn to Backyard Compost classes. These hands-on classes will show you just how easy and fun it is to make your own compost from food scraps and yard debris such as leaves, brush, and even weeds!

Organic materials such as leaves, branches, grass clippings and food scraps make up more than half of what Denver residents send to the landfill each year. Making and utilizing compost at your home not only puts these resources to good use and sends less material to the landfill, but it also improves lawn and garden health, conserves resources, saves money, and increases overall soil health.

Graphic turn this into this

Free Learn to Backyard Compost classes begin on Sunday, May 6th and are offered through mid-October at the Denver Compost Demonstration Site, located within the Gove Community Garden (on the southwest corner of 13th Avenue and Colorado Boulevard).  Each of the regular two-hour Learn to Backyard Compost class includes the compost basics—such as how to prepare organic material for composting, how to create the proper ratio of browns to greens (carbon to nitrogen), and how to properly water and turn your compost pile, container or tumbler. A total of six classes throughout the season are flagged as Worm Workshops, and specifically focus on vermicomposting (worm composting) techniques. Registration for all classes is on a first-come, first-served basis and will open one month prior to each class date. Pre-registration is required. To sign up for classes, visit dug.org/compost or call 303-292-9900.

Denver’s FREE Learn to Backyard Compost classes are sponsored by Denver Recycles and Denver Urban Gardens.  For more information about backyard composting and other programs offered by Denver Recycles, please visit DenverGov.org/DenverRecycles or call 311 (720-913-1311).

 

GET THE NEWSLETTER

Sign up to receive the Denver Recycles' Roundup in your email inbox each month.

Download Current & Past Issues