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Denver households recycled just 20 percent of their trash last year

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Posted at 9:26 PM, Mar 06, 2017
and last updated 2017-03-06 23:26:54-05

DENVER – The Mile High City is lagging behind the rest of the country when it comes to recycling its household trash.

Denver Public Works spokeswoman Heather Burke said households recycled just 20 percent of their waste in 2016. That amounts to an average of 507 pounds of recyclables per household versus 2,534 pounds of trash that ended up in a landfill.

Nationwide, the average recycling rate is 34 percent.

Burke said increasing the recycling rate is a challenge, since recycling is not mandatory in Colorado and Denver doesn’t charge directly for waste removal services. Currently, 82 percent of homes in Denver have recycling bins.

The city aims to meet or exceed the national average recycling rate by 2020 and there are efforts underway to reduce the amount of trash that ends up in landfills.

The city is in the process of expanding its household composting program and is also working to deliver recycling bins to the 18 percent of households that don’t currently have them. The city recently finished switching neighborhoods over to trash carts from dumpsters and Burke said they’ve seen a reduction in the amount of waste per household after switching over to carts.

Burke said the city also is looking to open more drop-off centers where residents can take their yard waste, food scraps and non-recyclable paper. The city currently has one drop-off center in Cherry Creek. The city also is considering expanding options for hard-to-recycle items like electronics and paint.

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