Model City ProfileModel City Profile

Denver, Colorado
Population: 598,707
Bottle Bill: No
Collection Method: Municipal employees
Funding: General Fund
Households Served: 91,000
Truck Type: Fully automated, compacting
Container Type: 65 gallon carts for recycling
Materials Processing Facility: Single stream processing
Denver, Colorado

The City of Denver offered curbside residential recycling collection to residents in the 1990’s with dual stream, bin based service. In 2005, they transitioned residents to a single stream collection program using rolling carts. The former collection service had reached a plateau with low recycling rates, and by offering single stream collection using larger capacity carts to households who signed up for them, the City was able to increase recycling efficiency and the amount set-out per household served.

Roughly 166,000 Denver households residing in 1 – 7 unit buildings are eligible for both trash and recycling collection service and about 50% of them share 3 cubic yard trash dumpsters, many of which are placed in alleys serving 3 – 6 households per container. While construction waste is not accepted in the program, with half the city on dumpster service it is difficult to control what is placed in dumpsters, and is a contributor to the low recycling rate.

Roughly 30% of households on the trash service are provided with 95 gallon trash carts, and the remaining 20% have manual collection where residents must use their own container, or set out refuse in bags. Residential recycling collection is offered every other week to residents and trash weekly.

Denver completed the rollout of single stream recycling and carts to the entire City in eighteen months. Recycling quantities have increased from an average of roughly 300 tons collected per week (in 2004) to 550 tons collected per week in 2008. While Denver acknowledges they have more work to do to increase recycling, annual quantities collected per household served by the program are now around 600 pounds.