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September 2004

Mixed Curbside Paper Recycling Successful
by Mary E. Hill

Larimer County Recycling Center in Colorado started accepting a paper mix that included junk mail, magazines, and catalogs in the middle of 2003. The ease of the program was intended to increase resident participation in recycling. Some types of paper material were still being prohibited, including phone books, cardboard and paperboard.

The changes in the curbside recycling program occurred on July 1, 2003. Until then, newspapers had been the only paper commodity allowed. The decision to change to a mixed assortment of paper occurred as a result of industrial improvements at mills that manufacture paper goods.

Before the change was implemented, Susie Gordon, City of Fort Collins Senior Environmental Planner, said, “This is a huge win for local recycling programs. There’s no doubt in my mind that people will jump at the opportunity to pull things like magazines and junk mail out of their trash and put them into their recycling bin instead. It will be so convenient, why would anyone choose not to recycle these materials, especially since they have to pay for what gets thrown away?”

And she was right. The numbers show an increase of over 350 tons of paper being recycled in the city of Fort Collins, Colorado alone. The nearby city of Loveland, which shares landfill space and some recycling programs with Fort Collins, has seen an increase of about 12%.

Residents have shown an enthusiasm to continue with the program and have supported it every step of the way. According to Bruce Philbrick, solid waste superintendent, residents are educated about the recycling programs by direct mailings, press releases, utility bill newsletters, and paid advertising.

Overall, Mr. Philbrick is convinced they made the right move last year and said, “Single stream is looking like more of a possibility. We would welcome the change from an operational perspective and the opportunity to add additional materials to the curbside mix.” These plans may well be implemented in 2005, continuing their trend in increasing recycling by residents.

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