search icon

Waste Diversion

The Goals
  • To reduce total landfill contribution by 40% by 2030.
  • Recycle 80% of recyclables by 2030.
  • Compost 80% of compostables by 2030.
  • Reduce total trash by 20% by 2030.
  • Strive for zero waste in municipal operations by 2030.
Key City ProgramsCity Organics Collection
Just like our recycling program, you can conveniently dispose of approved items in your green-lidded collection cart. Add yard and garden debris directly into the cart, along with your kitchen waste.

Curbside Mattress & Appliance Recycling
The City of Golden offers curbside appliance and mattress recycling to all single family and townhomes in Golden. Learn how to take advantage of this program on our Sustainability Programs page.
Local Recycling & CompostingSteps in Processing Golden Recyclable Materials

  1. All mixed recyclable materials collected in bins throughout the City of Golden are picked up by trucks that haul the material to a Materials Recovery Facility (MRF) in Denver.
  2. Recyclables are dumped and then put onto conveyor belts that weave their way through the facility, passing by human sorters and a variety of high-tech machines designed to separate the materials and remove contamination.
  3. After sorting, materials are placed into appropriate bins.
  4. All materials (except for glass) are put into a baling machine where they are smashed down and wrapped with wire in bales (like bales of hay) and shipped to manufacturers throughout the country to be turned into new products.
Recycling Coffee Cups
In recent years, innovative technologies have made traditionally non-recyclable paper cups recyclable!

  1. At the Materials Recycling Facility (MRF), paper cups are separated by a machine that uses Artificial Intelligence (AI) to identify the correct objects and a robotic arm picks them out and places them in their appropriate bin at super-fast speed!
  2. Cups are then baled and shipped to a manufacturer in Iowa that turns them into a construction material known as “wall board,” or to other paper mills around the country that can separate the paper from the plastic lining.
But remember: REDUCE, REUSE, RECYCLE! It is still better to use a reusable mug or container whenever possible.

Recycling Glass Locally

  1. When you toss glass into your recycling bin, it heads to a Materials Recovery Facility (MRF). At the MRF, glass is separated using a machine that directs lighter materials in one direction, allowing the heavier glass to fall onto a separate conveyor belt.
  2. The glass is then crushed to become cullet, and machines remove contaminants such as metal, paper, ceramics, and plastics. While most MRFs end up with a final material that’s around 50% glass, some facilities with optical sorting machines can achieve cleaner cullet percentages of 70 to 90%.
  3. In Colorado, Glass to Glass is a specialized MRF for glass. It takes glass from local MRFs (up to 50% contaminated) and further screens it to produce exceptionally clean cullet. This high-quality cullet goes directly to the Rocky Mountain Bottling Company (RMBC) in Wheatridge.
  4. RMBC processes the glass into new bottles for Coors beer, screening it one last time. Currently producing about 700 tons of bottles daily, RMBC uses 30 to 50% recycled glass, depending on the bottle color. 
Despite our local recycling process, most recycled content comes from out of state, contributing to carbon emissions and increased costs. To reduce this environmental impact, it’s crucial to collect all glass in Colorado and prevent it from ending up in landfills. 

You can help by placing glass in your mixed recycling bin or, even better, taking it to designated glass-only containers in your area. Your contribution makes a difference in creating a more sustainable glass recycling process locally.

Where Does My Compost Go?

As the processor of the City of Golden’s organic waste, A1 Organics processes up to 250 tons of compost a month. 

  1. The process begins with bi-weekly collection of food and yard waste from the green-lidded carts of the city’s Pay-As-You-Throw program participants. After a transfer in Denver, the material arrives at the main hot commercial compost site in Bennett where it goes into mixing machines with the right combination of nitrogen (wet green materials such as food scraps, coffee grounds, and plants) and carbon (dry brown materials such as paper products, dry leaves, and branches) to create the compost. The compost is then placed in approximately a dozen, 400-foot-long “windrows” where it is turned and generates internal heat until it reaches a minimum of 131 degrees. The process takes about ten weeks.
  2. After rigorous testing, the final product of enriched compost is sold to buyers. Colorado King Soopers are one of the largest suppliers of compostable material AND buyers of the finished compost. King Soopers brings their composting effort full circle by hauling spoiled produce to the compost facility and then purchasing back the finished product for sale in their stores. This summer, look for Kroger brand bagged compost with the “Colorado Proud” logo.
How You Can HelpThere are many small steps each member of our community can take to help achieve Golden’s renewable and efficient energy goals.

  • View our list of Sustainability programs to see other ways you can save both energy and money.
  • Participate in the City’s Pay-As-You-Throw Program:  PAYT, or variable-rate pricing, bills for trash collection based on the amount that a participating household throws away. Recycling service is included in the cost and the more material you divert to the recycle bin, the less you pay for monthly trash service. 
  • Recycle Properly:  Learn and follow our recycling rules to reduce contamination in recycling streams.
  • Compost Organic Waste:  Participate in Golden’s Organics Collection program , and/or start composting at home for food scraps and yard waste.
  • Reduce Single-Use Items:  Limit the use of single-use plastics and disposables, and opt for reusable alternatives.
  • Buy Products with Recycled Content:  Purchase products made from recycled materials to support the recycling market.
  • Donate Unwanted Items: Give away usable items to charities, schools, or community centers instead of throwing them away.
footer shape