Colorado prepares to “mine” key materials from the recycling bin ahead of new law taking effect in 2026

New laws are set to move the needle on the state’s “abysmal” recycling rate of only 16%, advocates and industry leaders say

Michael Booth
The Colorado Sun
Bales of recyclable materials are pictured at the Boulder County Recycling Center in Boulder on Wednesday, April 21, 2021. Photo by Andy Colwell, special to The Colorado Sun

A new state law’s promise to give all Colorado residents equal access to recycling, while building up an industry that produces goods from recycled materials, may not hit the ground until 2026, but advocates and industry say key preparations are well under way. 

The nation’s largest beverage companies, like Coca-Cola and Pepsi and Molson Coors, have committed to including high percentages of recycled materials into their packaging, and now they need a steady and clean stream of glass, cardboard and aluminum to ship new goods, said Liz Chapman, executive director of the industry and government nonprofit Recycle Colorado.

Colorado’s producer responsibility law passed earlier this year expands on industry and nonprofits’ success in creating powerful recycling economies in other states and countries, she said. The industry is set to deliver nominees to serve on the required Colorado producers’ council ahead of the July 2023 deadline, Chapman said, and then dig into details of how much they must tax themselves to provide recycling throughout the state by 2026.

“Beverage companies have made some really aspirational commitments, so they have a big stake,” Chapman said. “In order to achieve that, we need to collect more recyclables than we are currently. They need everyone to start putting materials into the correct bin so they can achieve those goals.”


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