Recycling in Colorado and El Paso County
Were we stand!
By Alicia Archibald
January 31st Report to The Green Cities Coalition
Three years ago:
State level: The state started research on how we were doing and found that we weren’t doin so good; Colorado Association For Recycling started working on creating legislation to help recycling get off the ground; the state’s recovery rate of municipal solid waste was estimated between 19-26% (national average was 32.5%);
Local level: According to the Pikes Peak United Way’s 2007 Quality of Life Indicator Report, there was no reliable tracking of the amount of recycled material; drop-off was free at a minimal number of locations; curb-side existed, but not widely promoted or asked for; the general attitude of the people was “Colorado Springs doesn’t recycle.”
Two years ago:
State level: May 23, 2007 the Governor signed HB 07-1288 — Recycling. Part of this bill requires the assessment of opportunities to generate renewable energy from discarded waste. One of the justifications of the bill is that recycling saves energy; this bill created the Sustainable Resource Economic Opportunity Commission. The Commission would collect a landfill facility fee and a tipping fee. Those dollars would then be allocated in the form of grants to promote the recycling industry and create markets for recycled goods. Funds would be used to enhance the ability of CDPHE to add solid waste/recycling data collection activities. From that, the state has issued grants that have increased recycling infrastructure throughout the state and reporting is getting better. According to data collected in 2007, the state’s recovery rate increased by 84%, most likely due to the difference of 30 recyclers reporting in 2006 and over 60 recyclers reporting in 2007 – the reported 2007 recovery rate 28.5%
Local level: According to the Pikes Peak United Way’s 2008 Quality of Life Indicator Report, data collection is becoming more accurate, but what we found is that El Paso County citizens generate more waste than the U.S. average and the trend is NOT improving.
State level: reports aren’t out yet for 2008, but the grants have increased recycling infrastructure and, hence, more reporting, so I am very hopeful.
Local level: The Green Cities Coalition of the Pikes Peak Region started up and joined forces with the Recycling Coalition of Colorado Springs. During this first year the Recycling Working Group put together a strategic plan for the year which included:
1. Bringing in speakers to educate us on what is working in the state
2. Interviewing three large local haulers to ask for their input and plans for recycling
3. Giving input to the local haulers about what we feel would help the community
4. Hosting a break-out session at the 1st Annual Southern Colorado Sustainable Communities Conference, where we increased our membership of volunteers
What did we accomplish:
All of the above plus: Applied for and received 30 recycling bins from a grant issued by Coca-Cola through the National Recycling Coalition to be used throughout the community at as many events as possible in order to increase the recovery rates, but most importantly to educate.
In August, most of the large haulers implemented “Single-Stream” recycling programs to make it easier and with hopes to increase recovery rates
I would like to report that Manitou Springs gave us our first opportunity to utilize the bins at their Energy and Climate Action Fair. Coreen said we diverted over 1 ½ tons of commingled recyclables at the event, which equated to saving 3120 pounds of green house gas emissions. CLAP!!!!
I am excited to learn that the City is keeping a “Community Recycling” page on their website now, and just this week, the City Council presented resolutions to local haulers (thanks Nick!) for their contributions towards increasing curbside recycling opportunities for the citizens of Colorado Springs– this shows a shift in our local leadership (thanks Green Team). The Downtown Partnership is working on getting some bins placed strategically as well.
I am excited about the change in culture and am confident we can make a difference in our community. One of the quickest ways to make a difference in diverting waste, is being conscious of what you buy.
Purchase only what you need – reduce.
Consider what the afterlife of that product will be – does it have a reuse opportunity?
Buy products made of recycled content or those that are recyclable – recycle.
You can contact Alicia at email@example.com