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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 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,, 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, 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 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.  


  • 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.


  • 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.


  • 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, 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! 


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 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 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 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 or call 311 (720-913-1311).

The Three Easy Steps for Proper Cardboard Recycling

Online shopping is growing faster than ever.  In 2017, online shopping increased 16% over 2016 and projected to continue growing. As Americans continue to purchase a wide variety of online goods, this growing appetite for one-click shopping translates into lots and lots of cardboard boxes arriving on Denver doorsteps every day.

Fortunately, cardboard boxes are recyclable, and Denver Recycles is happy to accept cardboard in its purple recycle carts. However, the growing quantity of cardboard delivered to Denver homes has made managing this material for recycling a little more challenging.

To ensure that cardboard from your home is properly and efficiently recycled, simply follow these three easy steps:

STEP 1: Remove packaging from inside cardboard boxes, and flatten boxes completely. This only takes a minute! Keep in mind that not all packaging found inside cardboard boxes is recyclable – check the Denver Recycles guidelines before making a decision on how to manage the packaging found inside cardboard boxes.

STEP 2: Reduce the size of cardboard to pieces no larger than 2 ft. by 2 ft.

STEP 3: Place cardboard inside your purple cart, or stack cardboard neatly beneath the cart lid so that the lid is open no more than 45 degrees.

image of steps to properly setting out extra cardboard

It is also important to remember the following:

Your purple cart is your collection container. Only materials inside your cart will be collected for recycling. Cardboard that is left on top of the lid or outside of your purple cart will not be collected. Cardboard stacked against your cart may even result in your cart not being emptied on collection day.

  • Clean pizza boxes are accepted in purple carts. However, greasy pizza boxes do not belong in recycle carts but are accepted in Denver’s green compost carts. Not signed up for the Denver Composts program? Learn more and sign up for compost collection service at or by calling 311.
  • Following our cardboard recycling guidelines not only maximizes space and prevents cardboard jams inside your cart, it also maximizes the efficiency of Denver’s recycling program overall.
  • Denver Recycles does offer the option to upsize existing 65-gallon recycle carts to the larger, 95-gallon cart size, and the ability to deliver a second recycle cart to homes needing even more capacity.
  • Cardboard and all other single-stream recyclables are also accepted at the Cherry Creek Recycling Drop-off for no charge.

For more information about recycling guidelines, the Cherry Creek Recycling Drop-off, and all other programs and services offered by Denver Recycles, visit or call 311 (720-913-1311).

Make Yours A Healthy Home - Schedule A Hazardous Waste Collection Appointment

Make Yours A Healthy Home logoHow healthy is your home? The average U.S. home generates about 20 pounds of household hazardous waste per year. Many common products, such as garden chemicals, adhesives, various cleaners and automotive fluids, have toxicity levels that make them dangerous to people, pets, and the environment if stored or disposed of improperly.

Cut your risk of exposure to toxic chemicals in your home and schedule a Household Hazardous Waste Collection appointment. Scheduling an appointment is easy, and it only takes a few minutes to prepare your items for collection.

Here’s a quick list of items accepted in the Denver Household Hazardous Waste Collection Program and items that you should NEVER put in the trash or pour down the drain, toilet, or storm sewer:

Automotive Fluids, Batteries, Chlorine Bleach, Cleaners, Corrosive Chemicals, Drain Openers, Fluorescent Bulbs & Tubes, Fertilizers, Gasoline, Glue Adhesives & Hobby Chemicals, Herbicides, Insecticides & Pesticides, Mercury & Lead, Mercury Thermometers & Thermostats, Motor Oil & Used Filters, Acid & Bases, Latex & Oil-Based Paint, Paint Thinner & Stripper, Polishes & Wood Preservatives, Pool Chemicals, Rust Remover, Stain, Spray Paint, Varnishes & Waxes, and Weed Killer.   

Denver residents are eligible for one collection appointment per calendar year. To schedule a collection appointment, call 1-800-HHW-PKUP (1-800-449-7587). Please note that there is a $15 co-payment and to make an appointment, a resident must have a minimum of three different types of material from the accepted materials list included above.

For more information about Denver’s Household Hazardous Waste collection program and all other programs and services offered by Denver Recycles, visit or call 311 (720-913-1311).



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