The number of people who recycle in Colorado Springs is extremely low.
To help with this, the city of Colorado received a state-funded grant of $350,000 to better understand our trash.
The city created a two-year study in partnership with local universities to find out just what's going in our trash cans and dumped in our landfills. They hope it will improve the rate at which we recycle and lessen the impact on the environment.
This city is far behind some of the best recycling communities in the state… there's no public recycling option, and only private companies handle waste and recycling.
This study plans to answer some basic questions about our waste habits, like how much we throw away, how many companies in town are hauling the waste, and what's in our trash.
Colorado Springs has partnered with UCCS, Pikes Peak Community College, and Colorado College to collect trash samples from landfills to analyze what's trash, what's hazardous, and what can be recycled or composted.
Samantha Bailey, the Sustainability Coordinator for the city, says "Really, just to build that relationship, to see how they manage the product once its' out of the resident's hands. And see how we can work together to build strategies to improve our waste diversion rate and be better recyclers. Not just for the environment, but to save taxpayer dollars and provide good public service for the citizens"
A 2021 report from the non-profits Eco-Cycle and the Colorado Public Interest Research Group found that in 2021, Colorado as a whole fell below its recycling and composting goals. Only 15% of waste was able to be recycled or composted in the state, less than half the national average of 32%.
This project comes after Governor Polis signed the Producer Responsibility Program for Recycling (HB 1355) bill into law earlier this month, which hopes to raise the Colorado recycling rate by creating a statewide recycling program funded by fees from companies producing paper and plastic packaging materials.
The Colorado Consumer Coalition, among others, calls this bad policy. They say it sets a bad precedent and will face legal challenges. They told us in an email, "The Coalition does not expect that the proposed system will actually lead to an increase in recycling education or improved recycling rates statewide, and will only cost producers and consumers their hard-earned money and faith in government systems".
We will continue to track both the progress of this study, as well as the push-back from groups who say there are better ways to encourage recycling in Colorado.
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