Pitkin County has been recognized as a leader in the State for waste diversion and recycling. According to the recently released 2019 Annual State of Recycling Report, Pitkin County placed first among its neighboring Counties on the western slope with the highest recycling/diversion rate.
Because commodity prices remain at 25-year lows, finding markets for recycling remains a struggle. Pitkin County continues to find ways to divert material out of the landfill. In 2019, the County achieved a 37% diversion rate for household and business trash. Pitkin County ranks second in the State for county recycling behind the City of Boulder.
“While traditional recycling is getting more difficult, we are shifting our focus to more unique diversion opportunities such as mattresses, textiles and book recycling, and reuse programs,” said Cathy Hall, Pitkin County Solid Waste Manager.
Transporting materials to diversion markets from the western slope remains a challenge, and is more expensive since most markets are on the front range. Pitkin County Government subsidizes recycling and diversion costs with trash tipping fees at the landfill. Costs for traditional single-stream recycling have increased 113% from last year.
Counties and cities were recognized this year during an America Recycles Day celebration on November 15th, where Governor Polis signed a proclamation designating Colorado Recycles Week.
While Colorado continues to increase diversion, the State as a whole only recycled 17% of its waste, one of the lowest diversion rates in the country.
“There is a lot of work to be done, and there are significant challenges, but with increased awareness, and support for recycling and composting programs, I think the State will get there,” said Hall.