Bills will incentivize development of new end-market users of recycled materials, create a public awareness campaign to increase recycling and establish a statewide organics management plan

DENVER, CO — The Zero Waste and Recycling Interim Study Committee today advanced two bipartisan proposals to improve the state’s recycling rate. One bill incentivizes the development of new end-market businesses for recycled materials and creates a public education campaign on recycling. The second bill requires the state to develop a comprehensive organics management plan.

“The two bipartisan bills we advanced today will put our state on the road to recycling more, trashing less and being better stewards of our environment and natural resources,” said Zero Waste and Recycling Interim Study Committee Chair Rep. Lisa Cutter (D-Evergreen). “Improving Colorado’s recycling rate, which is well below the national average, will continue our state’s progress addressing climate change and divert more waste from landfills. Without action, we will continue filling the ground with thousands of acres of waste, jeopardizing our air and water and risking our state’s reputation as an environmentally friendly place to live and visit.”

“Our state’s low recycling rate means we rely heavily on landfills, which can harm our environment and will leave a lasting impact on the natural beauty that in many ways defines our state,” said Rep. Meg Froelich (D-Englewood). “Today, we passed two bipartisan bills and took a big step forward to address this critical issue. Our legislation will reduce waste by helping create new markets for recycled materials, establishing a public education campaign on recycling and increasing compost use in agriculture and other sectors.”

“I’m proud that Fort Collins has the best overall recycling rate in Colorado, but we still have work to do to improve our statewide recycling rate, move towards ‘Zero Waste’, and act on climate,” said Rep. Jeni James Arndt (D-Fort Collins). “Our committee made significant progress today, advancing two bipartisan bills to incentivize recycling and ensure Colorado continues taking action to protect our environment.”

Last April, Legislative Council approved Rep. Cutter’s request to create the Zero Waste and Recycling Interim Study Committee. Colorado only recycles about 17.2 percent of the state’s waste, a rate that hasn’t increased in recent years and is much lower than the national average  of 35 percent. In 2016, the state set a goal of recycling 28 percent of its waste by 2021, which would divert an additional 1.5 million tons of waste from landfills. With the state’s population increasing and Coloradans producing more waste than before, the committee has been hearing testimony, conducting research and traveling to innovative recycling facilities in order to develop a path forward to improve Colorado’s recycling rate.

The first bill the committee advanced creates a stakeholder group to study how to establish a recycling market development center. The center would support the development of businesses that process recyclable materials or reuse them in their products sold to consumers. Under the bill, the Pollution Prevention Advisory Board is authorized to create a formula to provide a partial reimbursement of local personal property taxes to businesses that reclaim or recycle materials. The bill also requires CDPHE to administer a statewide recycling education campaign to increase residential recycling across the state. The campaign aims to inform Coloradans about specific recyclable materials and recycling habits that can increase recycling rates and make the state’s recycling efforts more efficient.

The second bill would establish a statewide organics management plan. This can help agriculture producers improve soil health, leading to enhanced crop value and production. The CDPHE will consult with stakeholders and submit the management plan by February 1, 2023 to the House Energy and Environment Committee, House Rural Affairs and Agriculture Committee, Senate Agriculture and Natural Resources Committee and the Senate Transportation and Energy Committee.

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