Indicator Description

Why We Are Measuring This
What the Data Shows

Estimated percent of municipal solid waste stream currently being recycled. Municipal solid waste consists of waste from household, office and stores and does not include industrial or agricultural waste, nor does it account for discarded hazardous material or toxics.

Why We Are Measuring This

Recycling is a measure of efficiency. Efficient use of materials is a key component of a sustainable community, because the more resources that can be recycled, reused or reduced at the source, the less we are forced to consume diminishing raw or virgin materials

Recycling also means less volume at landfills. Boulder County does not have its own landfill, so all of our waste is currently exported outside the county, which contradicts sustainable behavior. As part of the solution to address this problem, voters approved the creation of the Boulder county Recycling and composting Authority to oversee a new solid waste, recycling and composing facility to serve the county.

Per capita amount of trash generated per day = 4.5 pounds

Estimated tons of household solid waste generated per year in Boulder County = 217,000 (based on national averages).

What the Data Show

Boulder County recycles roughly 17% of its solid waste stream. This number is the best estimate according to Eco-Cycle, the local recycling and recovery center serving Boulder County, and the Boulder energy Conservation Center. When Eco-Cycle first started operations here twenty-two years ago, the percentage of the waste stream, being diverted from landfills was probably close to zero.

The national average recycling rate is roughly 25%, so we are well below this standard. However, Boulder County does have the highest recycling rate for any county in the state of Colorado. A few years ago, Governor Romer set a statewide recycling benchmark of 50% diversion rate by the year 2000. Experts estimate that about this much household solid waste is easily recyclable.

Table of Contents/ Overview/Boulder County at a Glance/A Vision for the Environment /
Air Quality
/Extirpated and Declining Species/Watershed Water Quality/
Water Imports from the Western Slope
/Land Annexation/Agricultural Land/
Vehicle Miles Traveled/Sources of Data

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