Recycling Impacts

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How would a contracted system affect recycling in Lakewood?

It’s estimated that current recycling efforts are diverting only 10% of the waste in Lakewood. Based on research and an assessment by the Sustainability Division, the amount of waste diverted from the landfill is expected to increase by an estimated 29% in a contracted system because of the combination of volume-based pricing, curbside recycling services, curbside yard waste compost services, and optional curbside compost services. It is estimated that this would result in nearly 38 million pounds of waste diverted from the landfills each year.

Does material actually get recycled or just dumped in the landfill or a foreign country?

The majority of the recycling collected in Colorado is recycled in the U.S. After it is collected from your home, your recycling is transported to a materials recovery facility (MRF). There are two such facilities in Denver and one in Boulder. At the facilities, the materials are separated and cleaned up, and then shipped to markets around the country or sometimes overseas. (Materials sent overseas are still being recycled, but recycling locally or in the U.S. brings more economic benefits to our local communities.) Each facility makes its own decisions about where materials are sent for recycling, but here are some examples of where local materials are going:

  • Glass is the only material that is always recycled here in Colorado; it is used to make new beer bottles or fiberglass.
  • Paper is sorted and sold in several different grades, which are then sold to many different markets, including paper mills in the Midwest or in Mexico, as well as markets overseas in China or other Pacific Rim countries.
  • Aluminum and tin are sent to domestic metal smelters.
  • Plastics are commonly sent to manufacturing plants in the Southeast and Midwest or may be sold to overseas markets.

I already use the Quail Street Recycling Center. Why is it important to give everyone curbside recycling?

Curbside recycling can increase participation in recycling because it makes it easier for residents to separate recyclable items from their trash. More households participate when they have a convenient curbside bin, and households recycle more materials per year in curbside programs compared to drop-off center programs.

Explore answers to other frequently asked questions about a contracted system by topic:
- Contracted System Overview
- Pricing
- Waste Services
- Trash Truck Traffic Impacts
- Customer Service

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