Colorado’s Circular Economy Development Center held the first regional stakeholder meeting August 22 in Rocky Ford. The meeting brought together businesses, nonprofits and governments from the southern part of Colorado to identify recyclable materials that are difficult to find markets for and to connect suppliers of those materials to local transportation and manufacturing businesses.
“The meeting got people thinking beyond the usual recycling versus landfill lens of solid waste and elevated the conversation to consider how local recyclable commodities fit into the economy of southeast Colorado,” said Eric Heyboer, assistant director of the CEDC. The circular economy concept includes recycling but is also concerned with transportation, manufacturing and product design. “Transportation comes up very frequently as the top challenge to moving materials in the region,” said Heyboer.
When asked what materials the CEDC should focus on in the first year, the stakeholder group identified tires, plastics and clothing as the top items. The Circular Economy Development Center launched July 1 as a program of the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment. The goal of the center is to expand existing markets and create new markets for materials that Coloradans recycle. “Based on the ideas generated here today and the collaborative spirit of all those in attendance, we will develop projects to work on in the coming months,” said Heyboer.