Get it together

Eco Cycle pushes for more business recycling in Boulder

When we Boulderites pat ourselves on the back for diverting under 50% of our trash from landfills into recycling and composting, it’s easy to forget how far we have to go. The official city goal, for the record, is 85% by 2017.

Eco Cycle makes a convincing argument that local businesses are poised to play the biggest role in getting us there – reaping massive Co2 reductions along the way.

But it’s going to mean some new rules around here.

Twenty-five years worth of local efforts to increase voluntary business recycling (like education programs and very decent financial incentives) have yielded a dismal outcome. Only 17% of business waste is being recycled. 17%!!

Single family homes here recycle about 30% of their waste. That means for every one bag of trash Boulder homes send to the landfill, Boulder businesses send three.

Eco Cycle has initiated a new campaign to change all this. Cooling the Climate Through Business Recycling is the organization’s effort to require local businesses to recycle.

“Business recycling is the low hanging fruit that can reduce Boulder’s greenhouse gases by very significant margins,” explains Randy Moorman, Community Campaigns Manager for Eco Cycle.

The organization has determined that by doubling the business recycling rate in Boulder to just 35%, we can eliminate 23,500 metric tons of Co2 from the atmosphere in just one year. That’s huge. By comparison, new solar installations are only saving an average 3,000 metric tons of C02 a year (2010 and 2011 data).

About 20% of Americans live in places that require business recycling, and some of those cities – like Madison, WI and San Fransisco – diverting at least 60% and as high as 80% of their community’s waste from landfills and incenerators, thanks in part to their requirements that businesses recycle. Come on people.

“There are a lot of businesses out there who are already doing the right thing – recycling, composting, and reusing what they can. These companies are on board with the program and they would like to see the playing field level out a bit,” Moorman explains.

In addition, many businesses lease their offices and manufacturing spaces. And landlords aren’t always motivated to provide recycling services.

“That disconnect is one of the big problems we hope to solve with this initiative,” Moorman explains.

How do you feel about the proposal? Make your voice heard at a Candidate Forum next Monday night. City council candidates will be on hand to discuss energy, transportation and waste. The forum is co-sponsored by Eco Cycle, The Sierra Club, and Community Cycles.


Boulder City Council Candidates Discuss the Environment
Monday, Sept 30, 6 – 8 p.m.
Boulder Public Library

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