Pitkin County and Aspen were recognized as state leaders for their recycling and composting efforts last year in the fifth annual State of Composting and Recycling in Colorado report, which was released on Nov. 15. Pitkin County claimed the best greater Colorado countywide residential and commercial rate, with a 38% diversion, while Aspen and Durango were tied for best greater Colorado citywide residential and commercial rate, with a 32% diversion.

The biggest contributor to the diversion rate is the composting program; the county composted nearly 13,000 tons of material in 2020. “We are extraordinarily proud of our waste diversion rate, especially because we have the extra challenge of getting most of our recyclables over to Denver for processing,” Solid Waste Director Cathy Hall said in the release. “To have one of the highest recycling rates in the state with the distances we have to go is a big accomplishment.”

As a whole, Colorado’s waste diversion rate was 15.3%, failing to improve over recent years and remaining well below the national average of 32%. While the county is proud to have surpassed both the state and the nation, Hall said on Friday that the question now is, how can the county continue to grow? “We still get a lot of material going into the landfill,” she said. “There’s more room to grow the compost program. That’s great diversion because it stays local.”

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