We’re in the final few weeks at the state legislature and advocates for zero waste and recycling are hoping to see some legislation pass that will increase recycling rates in the state, which are actually far below the national average.
Randy Moorman, Director of Community Campaigns at Eco-Cycle and Policy Chair and Vice President of Recycle Colorado, says there is one piece of legislation that they’re hoping to see passed that will increase recycling rates in Colorado. SB 19-192, the Front Range Waste Diversion Enterprise Grant Program bill, had its final vote in the Senate and now heads to the House for approval.
“Colorado’s recycling rate is currently at 12%, the national average is 34(%), so we have a long way to go in Colorado and we’re really missing out on some big opportunities because of our low recycling rate. We’re missing out on economic opportunities and environmental opportunities. Economically we are land-filling, literally throwing away about a quarter of a billion dollars worth of valuable material a year, burying it in our landfills in the state.” Moorman says that includes aluminum, cardboard, glass, paper, plastics. “Since we don’t have that material in our economy, that means we don’t have those jobs here in the state, to take that material, recycle it and turn it into something new.”
SB 19-192 would do two things to increase recycling along the Front Range which generates about 85% of the state’s waste.
It would provide Front Range communities with financial and technical assistance to implement waste diversion and waste reduction strategies by creating a dedicated funding source to encourage local action. It would encourage local communities to implement recycling strategies such as “Pay-As-You-Throw” or volume-based pricing systems for residential single-family recycling, which means that residents are charged for the amount of trash they generate; not for how much they recycle and compost.
Moorman says that while he’s disappointed that a bill that would have allowed local communities to ban single use plastic won’t be introduced this session due to time constraints, he hopes to see that addressed next session. . “The challenge that we have in Colorado is that we have a state statute that bans communities from regulating those plastics…we just kind of ran out of time this session but we’re really looking forward to addressing that next session.”
Another bill was recently introduced that would implement a state-wide ban on foam to-go containers and cups. “If this were to pass we would be the second state in the country to do something like this.” SB 19-243 is scheduled to be heard on April 22 in the Senate State, Veterans, & Military Affairs committee.