The State of Recycling in Colorado 2017

Released by: CoPIRG Foundation and Eco-Cycle

Colorado may have a green reputation, but when it comes to trash, the truth is that our state is one of the most wasteful in the nation. Colorado recycles only 12 percent of its waste, much less than the national average of 34 percent.  

And while many Coloradans place a high value on conservation, more than 40 percent of residents do not recycle regularly.  For many, recycling and composting just isn’t available as a convenient service like trash, and Colorado lacks the financial incentives to encourage more participation, two of the biggest reasons why Colorado’s recycling rates are among the lowest in the nation. 

Curbside recycling is one of the best strategies to make recycling more convenient and significantly boost recycling rates, yet only one in four Colorado residents automatically receives curbside recycling along with their trash service. The majority of residents have to go out of their way to find a company to provide the service, if it is even offered. Nearly 40 percent of Colorado counties do not offer any curbside recycling programs, and seven counties have neither recycling drop-off centers nor curbside collection.

The situation gets even worse when it comes to composting. Organic materials that can be composted—food scraps, grass clippings, and other yard waste—comprise about half of the materials sent to landfills in Colorado, yet only 15 counties have composting facilities to recover these materials. 

The good news is that Colorado took a big step forward in 2017 by adopting its first statewide recycling goals, which put the state on the path to match the national average within a decade. Prior to that Colorado was one of only 12 states that did not have any statewide goals.

The new goals send an important signal that Colorado is serious about increasing its recycling rate and building a new recycling economy.
Read the report and see the city rankings by downloading the report above.

support us

Your donation supports CoPIRG's work to stand up for consumers on the issues that matter, especially when powerful interests are blocking progress.

consumer alerts

Join our network and stay up to date on our campaigns, get important consumer updates and take action on critical issues.
Optional Member Code

CoPIRG is part of The Public Interest Network, which operates and supports organizations committed to a shared vision of a better world and a strategic approach to getting things done.