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Many waiting for smaller trash cart ahead of new Denver trash fee launch

New "pay-as-you-throw" model will offer recycling and composting for free, then charge between $9 and $21 depending on which size of cart a resident opts for
Denver proposal: Charging based on trash volume could fund weekly recycling
Posted at 7:24 PM, Dec 05, 2022

DENVER — In just a few weeks, the City of Denver will launch its “pay-as-you-throw” trash model with the new year. Passed by city council earlier this year, the new model will offer recycling and composting for free, and then charge between $9 and $21 depending on which size of cart a resident opts for.

With the program about to begin, Denver7 has heard from several residents who are still waiting for their smaller, cheaper trash carts.

Denver lags behind other comparable cities and the national average for recycling and composting rates. City data shows 26% of waste in Denver was diverted from landfills in 2020, compared to a national average of 34%. The city has announced a goal of 50% diversion by 2027, and 70% by 2032.

Tara Tull, one of about 30,000 residents already composting, is an outspoken advocate of the switch to the pay-as-you-throw program.

“I’ve been composting ever since my neighborhood got the green cart,” Tull said. “My next-door neighbor used to share my cart because I got the large size, and she liked it so much she got her own cart.”

With so much going into her recycling and composting bins, Tull knew right away she will want the smallest, cheapest trash cart under the new system. She put in a request back in the summer, she said, and is still waiting to receive it.

“I didn’t get it. So, I called them back, and that’s when they said, ‘We got so many phone calls, so many people wanting to change their cart size, that we’re going to do it all at once,’” Tull recalled. “So, now I’m thinking I’m going to hear from them and I should get the cart soon.”

A representative for the city told Denver7 that about 8,200 people have requested a smaller cart so far, and that the city is “working to fulfill those requests by the end of December, before invoicing begins.” In other words, those who have requested new carts should expect them to arrive in time to pay the lower cost under the new fee structure.

The new fee structure takes effect in the first billing cycle of 2023, running from January through March. Some parts of the city, though, won’t see composting pick up begin until the summer months. Those living in these areas can expect a $9 credit on each quarterly bill until composting pick up begins for their neighborhoods.

“I’m willing to cut them a lot of slack, knowing that they’re rolling out a whole new program to the entire city,” Tull said of the staff implementing the program. “I think it will take some time, but I think Denver will get there.”

If you are not currently composting, the City of Denver is recommending you hold off on making changes to your trash cart size until you see how much your usage changes under the new system. You will get a letter from the city 30 days before your first invoice next year with instructions on making a request.

If you need help paying for your trash service, the city offers financial assistance for qualifying residents.