Which Colorado city recycles the most? It sure isn't Denver

DENVER – A new city-by-city analysis of recycling rates across the state shows Colorado’s biggest city continues to lag behind other cities and the rest of the country when it comes to recycling.

According to the State of Recycling in Colorado report from CoPIRG and Eco-Cycle, Loveland leads the pack among Colorado cities, with a recycling rate of 61 percent. Boulder comes in second at 53 percent.

Denver is far behind at a mere 20 percent. But some metro cities are even worse -- Westminster and Northglenn wound up at the bottom of the list with recycling rates of just 11 percent.

Statewide, the average recycling rate is 12 percent. Compare that to the national average of 34 percent and it’s clear Colorado has some catching up to do.

“We might think of ourselves as a green state but on average, each Coloradan is putting seven pounds of trash a day in landfills,” said CoPIRG Director Danny Katz. “This is not surprising when you consider 25 Colorado counties don’t offer curbside recycling services and seven counties don’t even have drop-off centers. Our policies in Colorado are pushing us to do the wrong thing – throw everything in the trash can.”

Here’s a city-by-city breakdown (Note: CoPIRG and Eco-Cycle only looked at the 18 cities for which recycling data is publicly available. The rates only include residential recycling):

  • Loveland – 61%
  • Boulder – 53%
  • Louisville – 48%
  • Lafayette – 38%
  • Longmont – 35%
  • Golden – 34%
  • Lyons – 33%
  • Fort Collins – 30%
  • Greenwood Village – 28%
  • Superior – 22%
  • Denver – 20%
  • Sheridan – 18%
  • Thornton – 18%
  • Lone Tree – 17%
  • Commerce City – 16%
  • Arvada – 13%
  • Northglenn – 11%
  • Westminster – 11%

The CoPIRG/Eco-Cycle report estimates that $267 million worth of recyclable material such as aluminum and cardboard is sent to landfills across Colorado every year.

The report includes several suggestions for boosting recycling rates, including better tracking of data, expanding curbside recycling and composting programs, removing barriers to recycling such as cost, and ensuring that apartment buildings and businesses can recycle just as easily as single-family homes.

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