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DENVER RECYCLES' ROUNDUP

 

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).

 

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