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Denver's new trash fees draw praise from some, criticism from others

Tax on trash beginning in 2023, range from $9/month to $21/month
Denver proposal: Charging based on trash volume could fund weekly recycling
Posted at 3:36 PM, Jun 28, 2022
and last updated 2022-06-28 20:21:01-04

DENVER — The way your trash gets picked up isn’t changing, but how much waste your family generates will soon cost you in Denver.

“We want to keep all that compostable and recyclable material out of the landfill,” said Denver’s chief climate officer, Grace Rink.

City council voted late Monday night to move forward with a plan to charge for trash pick-up in Denver. Charges range from $9 per month for a small bin, $13 per month for a medium-sized bin and $21 per month for the large bin.

“It ain’t nothing to laugh about,” said Athmar Park resident Eileen Darden.

Darden says with skyrocketing water bills, gas and other utilities, as well as medical bills, this is just another hit to her family’s already stretched monthly income.

“We’re struggling as it is. And when you have children and grandchildren trying to go to college and so many other things, we don’t need any more debt,” she said. “And we have to do the majority of the work to get the trash picked up. We have to sort it, so why charge us more?”

Alvin Lucea agrees.

“That’s weird,” Lucea said. “Charge me for the lights, the water – it’s the same thing with the trash now? It doesn’t make sense to pay for our trash.”

Rink says many other cities across the nation have done this successfully, and it’s time Denver follows suit.

“An audit of our own waste right here in Denver has shown that 50% of the material that we put in our trash cans is compostable,” Rink said. “And 25% is recyclable. That means only 25% of what we put in the trash is actually trash.”

The plan also eliminates the fee for composting and increases recycling pick-ups, both at no charge.

“All customers will get composting carts at no additional charge, and they’ll have weekly recycling instead of every other week,” Rink said.

Rink understands the concerns of many families and says the city’s plan will reduce or even eliminate fees for low-income households.

“Our lowest income households will actually pay nothing,” Rink said. “Mayor Hancock has made equity our north star.”

Despite that, there’s still uneasiness among those like Darden.

“We like the job they do, but don’t overtax us,” Darden said. “We could take that and put it on some groceries.”