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White signs on sides of Denver’s curbside recycling pick-up vehicles declare: “Recycling. It’s easier than ever.”

But today recyclers say it’s increasingly difficult to move mounting heaps of plastics, cardboard, bottles and newspaper that Denver residents enthusiastically stuff into purple bins.

The problem: The ultimate end-users of recycled material â largely factories in Asia â aren’t buying as much as they did when the global economy was growing. Prices paid to recyclers, which once topped $150 a ton, plunged by 70 percent last fall and have stayed relatively low.

That leaves recycling plants, such as Waste Management Inc.’s single-stream facility in Denver, struggling to get rid of the heaps.

In Boulder, Eco-Cycle, a nonprofit, has found itself paying to get rid of materials such plastics and single-layer cardboard that, in better times, could be sold, said Eric Lombardi, executive director.

To solve some of the storage problem, Lombardi said, it would help if Colorado built a paper mill and plastics-grinding facility along the Front Range. He added that the steel mill at Pueblo could be used strategically.

“But the state government isn’t involved,” he said. “That’s the problem. We need a new materials economy.”

Across the country, recyclers have started to charge for curbside pick-up and to stockpile materials in hopes that prices will improve, said Ed Skernolis, executive director of the National Recycling Coalition.

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Archived comments

Makes sense.Thats why:

1. Reduce

2. Reuse

3. Recycle

(In that order) makes better sense.


3/31/2009 6:58:24 AM

step 1: create a new economy

step 2: create a crisis

step 3: have the government be the solution

repeat until you country is destroyed.


3/31/2009 6:59:39 AM

join over 3,000 of your Boulder friends and neighbors at this free online group – we recycle still usable items amongst ourselves and have informational links for everyone, including businesses and kids.Ecocycle has a similar group.


3/31/2009 7:02:53 AM

(clickable links)


3/31/2009 7:05:05 AM

As recycling becomes popular it creates more feed (supply) into the “commodity-based” system. The secondary recycling feed is not anywhere near the quality to make new containers thus would have to be processed into other materials. Oh, I forgot to note that the US doesn’t manufacture anything anymore except for chemicals and pharmaceuticals.


3/31/2009 7:29:16 AM

Bulk products purchase options in grocery stores, and less prepared food items, or purchase those portions in reusable dishes.


3/31/2009 8:10:40 AM

meatpieandtatters, you are dead on. The U.S. doesn’t manufacture anything anymore, which is why it’s going to continue to lose market share in the world. I’m not talking about things we make that we consume ourselves; that doesn’t help our cause in the world market. If we continue to import way more than we export, we got problems.

U.S. companies continue to move overseas or they buy products manufactured overseas, and they continue to outsource personnel. Forget banks and GM; this is the root of the problem.

And we don’t need recycling plants here because we have no use for the raw materials … because we don’t produce anything from them!


3/31/2009 8:16:34 AM

meatpieandtatters, you forgot weapons. We do manage to export many of the guns being made here…


3/31/2009 8:20:47 AM

I wonder how much fuel is used sending our recyclables to Asia, and then again importing the stuff they make out of it.


3/31/2009 10:03:22 AM

Gosh — Ecocyclehaving encouraged the City of Boulder to astronomically raise “recycling” taxes is now looking for another handout from state government in the form of a state recycling plant.I hope that the Legislature looks long and hard before believing anything else Ecocycle has to say.They’ve got about as much credibility as RTD, and that’s not saying much.

Meanwhile, we now have “single stream” recyclables, which mixes everything together requiring huge labor costs to separate it again for recycling; a model which was predicated on continuing high rates for recyclables that any economist could have told them was not sustainable.



3/31/2009 10:21:11 AM

yeah, boco, b/c the alternative – trash + manufacturing goods using virgin resources – is soo sustainable. not.


3/31/2009 12:53:26 PM

Well, this is the problem when people don’t think ahead. Citizens were encouraged to recycle and we were charged extra for single-stream recycling.

Now that people are actually using recycling, the centers are overwhelmed. Someone should have taken some of the fee increase and used it in anticipation of the increased load.


3/31/2009 3:45:04 PM

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