The city of Colorado Springs is setting out to better understand the paper, banana peels and dirty bottles and other trash sent to landfills and how much of it could be recycled or composted instead. The state granted $350,000 to the city over two years to help answer basic questions, such as how much garbage total residents and businesses produce and how many waste haulers operate in town, said Samantha Bailey, sustainability coordinator for the city.
It also will help the city establish relationships with all the trash haulers and understand how they handle waste, she said. Waste and recycling in Colorado Springs is completely private and the city has no licensing program to provide oversight. The city’s diversion study also could help the state meet its goals for reducing the amount of garbage sent to the landfill. The state intended to recycle 28% of its waste last year, 35% by 2026 and 45% by 2036.
A report by Eco-Cycle showed Colorado is falling far short of that, with just 15% of waste recycled or composted. The vast majority of the trash, 85%, is from the Front Range, said Kate Bailey, policy and research director for the Boulder-based nonprofit. At the same time, demand for recyclables has shot up, Eco-cycle’s Bailey said. Because of global supply-chain shortages, companies need the glass and aluminum that can come from recycling. Demand for plastics, historically tricky to recycle, is also up. “The market demand is absolutely there. What we lack in Colorado is the collection system,” she said.