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Julie Cook Kitchener May 6, 2024 13:03 pm
Hi all,
Denver, Colorado is a shining example of waste reduction at its best. They have an ambitious goal of diverting 70% of their waste going to landfill by 2032, and they have some innovative initiatives to ensure that they get there. First and foremost, the City has a “Waste No More” initiative, which is a city-wide ordinance that requires all apartment buildings, office buildings, restaurants, and other businesses to offer recycling and compost services. This means that waste, recycling, and compost collection is universally accessible throughout the city. I don’t know about you, but in my area of the world, this is rare. As part of the initiative, the city requires almost all construction and demolition projects to recycle concrete, asphalt, clean wood, scrap metal, and cardboard. Further, all construction and demolition project managers need to submit a recycling and reuse plan to the City to verify that they are complying with the ordinance before they can obtain a permit. This is significant, as construction and demolition waste constitutes nearly 40% of Denver’s waste stream.
Denver is also wisely charging a fee for weekly waste services based on the size of the waste bin, while recycling and compost collection are free, and collected weekly. This provides some obvious incentives for residents to keep waste to a minimum. 
Prices vary depending on waste bin size

For those residents who struggle to pay their waste bills, discounts on waste services are available (up to 100% off their bill) by filling out an easy-to-access application form online. As reported on their website, Denver is one of the few cities in the United States to offer a discount like this. And finally, to facilitate proper recycling and composting, the City has created a very sophisticated waste directory that is easy to use and includes colourful images and drop-off locations for hard-to-recycle items. 
The only snag in all of this is that on their website they quite prominently post a statistic that Denver residents each produce over 1 tons of waste per year. Yikes. This is a descriptive social norm that tells people that as a collective, they are actually quite wasteful. A better statistic would be one that highlights total waste diverted over the past few years. 
Overall, Denver, Colorado is showing some inspiring leadership in the area of waste reduction. If you’d like to read more about their exciting initiatives (and there are many), click here