Waste Diversion


To reduce total landfill contribution by 40% by 2030. This means:

  • 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.

Annual Community Waste Metrics

Annual metrics relating to Golden’s waste can be found here.

Curbside Appliance & Mattress Recycling Program

The City of Golden now offers curbside appliance and mattress recycling to all single family and townhomes in Golden. Acceptable appliances are limited to full size: washing machines, dryers, dishwashers, refrigerators, freezers, and stove/ovens. Items not listed here (including microwave ovens and small refrigerators) are not allowed and will not be picked up. Acceptable mattresses and box springs will not be wet or frozen. Mattresses or box springs with any sign of bed bugs (black dots on the bed) will not be picked up.

Please fill out the Curbside Pickup Form OR call (303) 953-5800 and leave your NAME, ADDRESS, PHONE NUMBER, and TYPE OF ITEM for pick-up. Pickup is the following TUESDAY for calls received by Thursday of the prior week. Calls received after Thursday will be scheduled for the next week. City staff will call to confirm the date.

All Things Recycling: A Community Conversation About Waste Diversion

The City of Golden Community Sustainability Advisory Board (CSAB) recently held the All Things Recycling community event at the Buffalo Rose. Attendees had the opportunity to hear the latest information from industry experts about where our materials go, recent changes in the industry, and how families can participate in organic waste collection and other waste diversion programs. If you missed the event, check out the video from the presentations and Q & A session.

Why is composting important?

Check out this quick video from Kiss the Ground.

Golden Recycling Provider Responds to China’s Recycling Restrictions in a Big Way

For many years, recycling sorting facilities in the U.S. (also called “MeRFs”, or Material Recovery Facilities) have shipped certain plastics to China including any contamination (trash, non-plastics) that may have been missed in the U.S. sorting process. Beginning in 2017, China became stricter with how much contamination would be allowed in the shipments. Business-savvy MeRFs invest in innovative technologies to ensure a lower level of contamination and therefore a higher market price for the materials. Other MeRFs who cannot effectively prevent contamination are forced to sell to processors inside the U.S. This surplus of plastics within the U.S. has a temporary, but negative affect on commodities prices.

Because China is the largest importer of recyclable materials, Golden’s recycling provider, Altogether Recycling, has made aggressive changes to their operations. During a recent tour their MeRF in Denver, Vice President Brent Hildebrand explained the steps taken to respond to China’s new rules. “The restrictions are very tough to meet. We have slowed the processing system down and brought in extra workers to more thoroughly vet the materials going through to look for contaminants.”

Altogether Recycling’s continued investment in innovative technologies has also helped. A new robot, nicknamed Clark, uses artificial intelligence to pick up and sort recyclables at a rate much faster than humans. Workers help it recognize new materials so it is continually learning and it even shares its new information with other MeRFs around the country. Elsewhere, an optical sorting machine “sees” different types of materials on the assembly line and uses puffs of air to shoot the materials to an appropriate bin.

The new technologies not only increase efficiency, and reduce contamination, but have also helped process materials not previously accepted, like block Styrofoam and Starbucks coffee cups (Yes, if your household participates in the City’s Pay-As-You-Throw program, you can now recycle single use coffee cups!).

One way you help keep the stream clean? “Metal objects, such as car parts, oven pans, and tools can cause the sorting system to be down for hours due to damaged equipment,” Hildebrand said. “It’s a really big deal and we need to educate people on what’s acceptable and what is not acceptable in the recycling stream.” Check out the list of accepted materials and spread the word. Together, we can keep the business of recycling in business.

A Firsthand Look at the Where Our Green Waste Goes

Compost facility

In the past Golden residents have been given the opportunity to tour A1 Organics’s Class II Compost Facility in Bennett, CO. As the processor of the City of Golden’s organic waste, A1 Organics processes up to 250 tons of compost a month. This experience provided a firsthand look into the path our food and yard waste takes once it leaves Golden.

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. The compost is then placed in mixing machines, which make sure there is a right combination of nitrogen (wet green materials like food scraps, coffee grounds, and plants) and carbon (dry brown materials like 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.

After rigorous testing, the final product of enriched compost is sold to buyers in the landscaping and agricultural industries. Colorado King Soopers are one of the largest suppliers of compostable material and buyers of 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.

Pay-As-You-Throw Residential Waste & Recycling Collection Program

Waste EDS Truck

PAYT, or variable-rate pricing, is based on the concept that households are billed for the collection of trash based on the amount that they throw 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. More information on the current program can be found in the Resident’s Guide.

History of PAYT in Golden

In 2007 the City embarked on a sustainability initiative. A public town hall meeting was held and seven community working groups were organized to address sustainability issues in several areas. The seven groups covered areas that included building, economic health, education and communications, energy, solid waste and recycling, transportation and water. These groups then made recommendations to City Council for changes that would help make Golden more sustainable and establish sustainability goals in each of the seven areas. By August of 2007, City Council had passed a resolution that established specific goals for each area of sustainability. The specific goal for solid waste and recycling is to reduce Golden’s solid waste stream contribution by 25% by 2017.

In May 2010, City Council changed residential waste collection services in Golden by allowing the City to contract for waste and recycling services for some residential properties. In June 2015, City Council reissued a new five-year waste hauling contract and selected GFL Environmental (formerly Alpine Waste & Recycling). GFL Environmental was chosen for their low prices and ability to provide current and future services required by the Golden community. Starting September 1, 2015, rates increased a modest 9% and more benefits were added to the optional green waste program. Now every household in the city may subscribe to the year round, bi-weekly green waste service. Kitchen waste is now accepted in the green waste cart.

On November 13, 2014, the Golden City Council approved Ordinance 1991 to expand Pay-As-You-Throw (PAYT) waste & recycling collection to all residential areas in Golden.  This ordinance affects Homeowner Associations, Multi-family areas and Commercial properties.  By January 1, 2016, all waste haulers are required to submit documentation showing compliance as part of the City’s licensing regulations, which provide for the following:

  • Curbside service with pricing based on volume, with a 32-gallon minimum size and increasing increments (e.g. 32-, 64-, and 96-gallon sizing).
  • Multi-family areas utilizing dumpsters would still retain dumpster service, as these containers are already priced based on volume of materials. Multi-family areas that currently receive curbside service would change to the volume-based rates.
  • Provision for recycling service to be included in the total monthly cost.
  • The option of rolling carts, bags, or tags to administer the service, to be determined by each hauler.
  • Additional licensing requirements such as reporting of overall diversion of materials, equipment standards, and proof of insurance.

For more information on the PAYT program, view the Colorado Association for Recycling Case Study pdf download and the “Let’s Talk Trash” open house presentation pdf download.

COG Mesa

 Did You Know?
Golden was originally chosen as the territorial capital of Colorado in 1862.

Additional Resources

City of Golden, Colorado
COG Mesa
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