A special thank you to the Summit for Recycling Host Committee:
Contact Amy Randell for more information.
Take a walk down memory lane and see past winners.
The recycling industry awards in Colorado recognize excellence in recycling or promotion of recycling
Each year, Colorado Association for Recycling seeks nominations for our annual Recycling Awards. These prestigious awards recognize governmental entities, individuals, companies, and organizations for their excellence in recycling.
The 2015 awards were presented at the Recycling Awards Gala Monday, June 8, at Donovan Pavilion in Vail during the 26th annual CAFR Summit for Recycling.
High Country Conservation Center
The High Country Conservation Center (HC3) completed a USDA Solid Waste Management Grant project to improve technical assistance and hands-on educational programs for Summit County’s community compost program. They did this by: 1) Establishing local end-markets for finished compost to sustain the compost program as a viable operation; 2) Eliminating toxic threats including plastics and pharmaceuticals from the compost waste stream; and 3) Providing technical trainings and outreach to community members, professionals, and landfill operators to support a thriving and contamination-free compost program.
The project created end markets for the existing compost operation, enabling the program to become financially viable. In addition, the project helped decrease and eliminate contamination issues (plastics and pharmaceuticals) from the waste stream creating healthier compost, ecosystems and water resources. Finally, the project enhanced compost awareness within the community, informing citizens through public outreach and educational trainings. In the end, HC3’s outreach efforts resulted in the sale of 4,527 cubic yards of compost, which was an increase of 64% over 2012. Total revenue from compost sales in 2014 was $116,335.
HC3 raised public awareness of closed-loops systems related to compost in several different ways, reaching more than 3,000 citizens in the process.
HC3 spent a significant amount of time designing collateral material that demonstrates the benefits of using compost for lawn and garden needs, explains the pollution reduction of food scrap composting and increases awareness of a closed-loop system. HC3 branded the compost product through the creation of a logo and residential and commercial versions of brochures.
Contamination issues like plastic and pharmaceuticals can be damaging for a compost operation. By better preparing compost participants with trainings and resources, HC3 ensured that county compost remains free of contamination. This goal was met with some challenges after conversing with EPA testing labs, Woods End, Soil Control Lab, Evergreen Analytical and Colorado Analytical over whether or not this type of testing could be done. It was determined that testing for specific contaminants in biosolids was not feasible due to the nature of chemical bonding in solids vs. water. The chances of finding chemicals that have potentially latched on to fragments of biosolids in a measureable amount is nearly impossible after diluting the samples enough to test them.
After much thought, the compost operators decided that in the best interest of the quality of county compost product, the program could no longer accept manufactured compostable products in the compost stream. The county went to a food scrap only policy for commercial and residential collection sites and saw a dramatic decline in the amount of microplastics that were ending up in the final product. This effort was jointly achieved through changes in regulations and a major public outreach campaign by HC3.
HC3 created a food scrap drop-off program flyer and a postcard showing how to properly dispose of pharmaceutical and personal-care products. The postcards were handed out to two City Market pharmacies to be distributed with prescription medications and were handed out at E-Waste and Pharmaceutical Collection events on January 31 and March 14. In all, a total of 1,000 postcards were handed out. More than 7,934.9 lbs of personal care products and pharmaceuticals were kept out of the waterways and biosolid organic material by providing proper disposal options and education around the issue.
HC3 also created three public service announcement videos that were posted online and ran on local cable channel SCTV during the summer and fall of 2014. The topics were 1) What is High Country Compost and Facility, 2) How to recycle your food scraps, 3) Lawn and Garden Applications. In addition to the collateral and PSAs, HC3 designed an ad for the local paper on High Country Compost. The ad ran six times in the Summit Daily with a circulation of 12,000 per publication.
HC3 provided a demonstration project that took place in five community gardens, amending the beds with High Country Compost as well as creating signs educating the gardeners about the product. Beds that were not amended did not see as much success and they required more water to maintain. HC3 reaches nearly 1,000 community members through the garden program.
Finally, HC3 spent a significant amount of time in the school district, educating the students about food scrap recycling and how that “waste” gets turned into soil. They conducted 15 tours of the High Country Compost Facility with K-12 and community college students where they got to see firsthand how compost is made.
More than 23,000 rural Colorado citizens living in the towns of Dillon, Silverthorne, Frisco, and Breckenridge were reached through the program. The project ran from October 2013 through January 2015. However, the program is now financially viable and will continue to operate outside of the grant.
Lake County DOOR Program
Until 2013, the Lake County School District had no formal education in environmentally sustainable practices and no formal recycling infrastructure or collection services. With the support of the superintendent, director of facilities and maintenance, teachers, students and Cloud City Conservation Center, the school district established recycling infrastructure, recycling pick up and recycling education at each school. Recycling workshops were conducted in every K-12th grade classroom. The recycling rate went from nearly 0% to 25% in one year.
In particular, the Lake County DOOR Program Green Team students became the environmental leaders of their school and the school district. In 2014, the Lake County DOOR Program Green Team took over recycling collection and recycling education at Lake County High School. During the 2013-2014 school year they managed collection and sorting of more than 11,000 pounds of recycling, or 30% of the total waste stream.
As part of this effort, the Green Team improved recycling infrastructure in all schools. In examining the current recycling system, Green Team students found that a two-bin system in each room would be more effective at increasing the diversion rate. They raised the money to purchased extra bins, created clear labels and distributed bins in every classroom and common area in three schools.
Since February 2014, Green Team students have conducted an action research project that included waste audits at the elementary, middle and high school that culminated in a series of recommendations for the school district in 2015. The DOOR ProgramGreen Team students are now working to get these recommendations enacted, including implementation of a school district-wide compost program.
For the waste audits at West Park Elementary, Lake County Intermediate School and Lake County High School, the Green Team students worked with custodial and kitchen staff to determine accurate representations of kitchen and classroom waste. They then separated, weighed and calculated the composition of different waste streams. Here’s what they found:
DOOR Program Green Team students are currently in the middle of implementing a series of recommendations that include:
This is likely the first detailed analysis of Lake County School District’s waste stream that has ever been conducted. This, plus research and interviews with staff and community members that include cost analyses, provides an evidence-based foundation for decision-making. That the process has been led by students is important. When students are able to make significant changes to the systems they operate in, it makes a great success story for the community. This example serves as a model for Lake County, which is currently struggling with its own waste diversion issues, and Colorado communities state-wide.
GreenSheen Eco-Friendly Paint
Waste latex paint (WLP) makes up an estimated 73% of all household hazardous waste (HHW) volume collected. It is typically buried in local landfills with the steel and plastic containers it was packaged in. Collection and landfilling of WLP is an estimated $10.4 million dollar a year expense to the taxpayer. GreenSheen collects WLP and the steel and plastic cans it was originally packaged in that would otherwise be heading to the landfill and recycles it back into professional grade latex paint.
In 2014 GreenSheen recycled 826,133 lbs. of WLP and its associated containers. Of that, 357,450 lbs. was collected directly from the consumer through GreenSheen’s pay as you throw (PAYT) process thereby saving taxpayers $267,256. GreenSheen’s PAYT recycling process makes it the largest volume paint recycling infrastructure in Colorado recycling 50% more volume than the previous leader and 100% more volume than what was the 2nd largest infrastructure. GreenSheen also collected an additional 468,683 lbs. of WLP and its associated containers through the HHW collection events and brick-and-mortar facilities, saving Colorado taxpayers an additional $209,812. GreenSheen’s PAYT volumes are increasing at an average of 237.5% every month, and in 2015 GreenSheen expects to save Colorado taxpayers an estimated $1.5 million and divert an estimated 2 million lbs. of WLP and its associated containers from landfills. GreenSheen Paint is sold throughout Colorado thereby creating dozens of jobs and their associated tax revenues.
Clean Valley Recycling
Clean Valley Recycling (CVR) started out in April 2011 as a grassroots organization working to provide plastics and cardboard recycling opportunities for local communities. CVR obtained non-profit status shortly thereafter and in a few short years they have grown into a full-service recycler. CVR provides much needed services to the lower Arkansas Valley and is a field trip destination for school kids of all ages. Especially noteworthy about this effort is that it is taking place in a rural, under-served area of Colorado where people are less aware of the environmental benefits of recycling and where the culture has been to throw all unwanted items in the landfill. CVR has persevered in this challenging environment and has become an integral recycling and environmental center for lower Arkansas Valley communities.
Clean Valley began recycling e-waste in January 2013 after the Otero County Commissioners approached them about the possibility of starting such a program. In July 2013 the electronic waste landfill ban went into effect and materials have been streaming in to CVR steadily ever since. Clean Valley Recycling is the only recycler in a 60-mile radius accepting e-waste, and they currently receive electronics from five counties in Southeastern Colorado: Otero, Prowers, Bent, Kiowa and Crowley. CVR’s first e-waste collection event was Sept 28, 2013, when they collected more than 24 tons of e-waste -- one of the largest e-waste events held in Colorado that year. Since that time, CVR has collected and recycled an additional 44 tons of e-waste. Having a local electronics recycler has given the communities in this rural area an opportunity to recycle their e-waste ethically while being in compliance with the new law. Diverting this quantity of e-waste from landfills prevents hazardous materials from entering the environment while making valuable metals available for re-use.
Education and outreach are the keys to increasing recycling rates in the lower Arkansas Valley. Many folks have not been exposed to the idea of recycling and so introducing young people to recycling has been part of the mission of CVR from the beginning. Hiring an educator as company manager helped in this effort. One educational opportunity that CVR provides is a field trip destination for school groups. In the past year, CVR had four school groups tour the facility and learn about resource conservation with hands-on activities including material sorting/recycling, vermi-compost demonstration and micro-greens cultivation. Another educational program that CVR put on last fall was hiring eco-entertainer “Steve Trash” to go to area schools and teach about recycling. Steve Trash, magician and recycling educator, presented to four student groups in the lower Arkansas Valley: Rocky Ford, La Junta, Las Animas and Ordway. The in-school assemblies taught middle school kids why trash is a valuable natural resource, what materials are recyclable and why we should recycle. As a result, three of the schools expanded their existing recycling programs. CVR continues to look for unique ways of educating young people and the general public about recycling.
In the last year, CVR diverted five tons of glass, 19 tons of paper, 55.6 tons of metals, 27 tons of plastics, 24.75 tons of electronics, 180 gallons of latex paint and around 228 tons of cardboard from landfills. Participation on the part of the public is hard to gauge but probably fewer than 5% of southeast Colorado residents recycle regularly. CVR is working to expand rural recycling in southeast Colorado with a new curbside program starting in May.
One of the lessons learned by CVR is that many rural residents want to recycle and learn more about recycling. CVR’s walk-in centers provide public venues for discussions on environmental issues and opportunities to exchange free materials. Being a rural recycler, CVR has seen the need to diversify and accept a wide variety of materials. As with other rural recyclers, CVR employs a hub-and-spoke model to reach out to outlying areas. As money is tight, they have only 1.5 full-time paid positions with the balance of the work done by dozens of volunteers. CVR has built into their business model a place for student and nonprofit groups to do community service (collecting recyclables) while earning a little money for their organizations. This provides an opportunity to teach young people how and why to recycle. Clean Valley gives back a portion of their plastics recycling proceeds to these organizations: in the last three years, they donated more than $11,000 to volunteers.
One major challenge experienced recently is the abundance of televisions and CRT monitors being recycled locally. As downstream e-cyclers prefer a balance of general e-waste to TVs and monitors, CVR has lowered its pricing to encourage recycling of general e-waste. A better balance of e-waste types is now being collected. CVR strives to keep rates for e-waste recycling as low as possible in a challenging economy. Being flexible and adjusting to the needs of the public are key strategies in rural areas. CVR employees and volunteers are committed to making environmental progress in southeast Colorado’s rural farming/ ranching communities. Recycling is much more than a business for CVR. This commitment is evidenced by the variety of people who volunteer: doctors, nurses, retired folks, school & college students, teachers, counselors, handicapped individuals and others all pitch in to make an environmental difference in southeast Colorado.
Clean Valley Recycling began as an effort to help Lower Arkansas Valley residents to recycle their plastics and cardboard but has become a comprehensive recycler and environmental educating force in southeast Colorado.
Mayor Christine Berg, City of Lafayette
In July 2014, under Mayor Christine Berg’s leadership, the Lafayette City Council voted unanimously to enter into a new hauling contract that would provide curbside composting to the 5,494 households in Lafayette that are in the city’s service area. In so doing, the city has advanced Colorado’s efforts to reduce waste by becoming only the third city, not only in Colorado, but in the Rocky Mountain West to adopt curbside composting.
The City of Lafayette, with a population of 26,784, had the foresight back in 2007 to become one of the first cities in the state to adopt a pay-as-you-throw curbside collection program for recycling. Since 2007, the city has made huge strides toward Zero Waste. After implementing the new curbside recycling collection, the city saw its diversion rate more than double from 10 percent to 28 percent over a two year period. The city then began implementing other Zero Waste practices, such as installing Zero Waste stations in the City Hall, developing a green purchasing policy for the city and making city festivals Zero Waste, which has resulted in diverting more than 90 percent of festival waste for the past nine years. Despite these efforts, the city’s diversion rate has not increased since 2009. Mayor Berg and the City Council knew, based on other cities, that the only way to make a significant increase in the diversion rate was to add curbside composting.
Mayor Berg, elected in 2013, has long been concerned about the amount of food waste that is being thrown out. In 2013, the city conducted a waste audit and determined that approximately 40 percent of the city’s waste that was going to the landfill was compostable food and yard waste. After the audit, Mayor Berg told The Daily Camera, “As Americans there’s a much bigger disconnect between food and waste that needs to be addressed.” She strongly advocated for the city to add curbside composting to its waste services, believing that Lafayette residents would be amazed at the amount of compostable material they currently send to the landfill. “I think when people start throwing compostables away separately, they get a better feel for how much they’re throwing away.”
The waste audit study provided further evidence to the mayor and the council that the City of Lafayette’s biggest impact on reducing the amount of material sent to the landfill would be through composting. The mayor and the council requested that city staff investigate changing the city’s waste service to include curbside composting, and in May 2014 the city released a request for proposals for a hauling contract that would include curbside composting along with its trash and recycle services.
The Mayor wanted to ensure that the new service would have the support of Lafayette residents and that their concerns would be addressed. The mayor and the council participated in several Town Hall meetings and forums, including one at the Lafayette Public Library where more than 130 residents attended. The major concerns raised were regarding the cost of the new service, especially its impact on low-income families and getting the word out to Spanish speaking homes. Approximately 13.3 percent of Lafayette residents are below the national poverty level and 18.2 percent are Hispanic.
To address these concerns, after the Council voted to adopt the new hauling contract with the composting service, Mayor Berg and the council directed staff to conduct a robust outreach to residents, informing residents of how to use the new compost service and how to save money, under the pay-as-you-throw rate structure, by separating kitchen and yard waste and placing those materials in the compost cart instead of the trash and then downsizing their trash cart. Since most residents were using the larger 96- and 64-gallon trash carts, the new service would enable 80 percent of Lafayette residents to downsize and lower their monthly service bill by as much as 51 percent.
Additionally, the city worked with Eco-Cycle to create educational material explaining the new service through brochures in both English and Spanish that were mailed to all service-area residents in their monthly billing statements. The city held two open houses and three composting workshops for residents to learn about the new compost service and specifically what they can put in the new compost cart. In low-income and Spanish-speaking neighborhoods, the city conducted a door-to-door canvass to 1,027 homes to ensure that residents received the information in both English and Spanish about how to use the service and potentially save money by downsizing their trash carts. The city also provided free compost buckets to low-income and Spanish-speaking residents.
The new curbside compost service began in February 2015 and to date more than 200 residents have already downsized their trash carts as a result of utilizing their compost cart. Based on the City of Louisville’s diversion rate, a similar-sized community with curbside composting, Lafayette anticipates that it could increase its diversion to 40 percent or more as a result of the new compost service.
Many communities in Colorado and the Rocky Mountain West don’t even have curbside recycling, much less composting. The City of Lafayette is proving to the rest of the state that both curbside recycling and composting can be provided to its residents at a reasonable price. Since Lafayette’s City Council approved its new hauling contract, the Longmont City Council has begun discussions about adding curbside composting to its hauling program. Longmont’s residents, council and city staff look to Lafayette as a model of how to successfully add this new and important service. Mayor Berg and the Lafayette City Council took a bold step forward for their community that will not only move them closer to being a more sustainable community, but also show the rest of the state of Colorado and the region how to reduce waste through curbside composting.
Communications Director, Eco-Cycle
Harlin Savage is Eco-Cycle's communications director. She has been working in environmental communications for 25 years and working for Eco-Cycle since August 2014.
The City of Boulder is nationally recognized as a leader in many environmental areas, including sustainability and natural resource conservation. Boulder has a Zero Waste Strategic Plan with a goal of achieving 85 percent diversion of waste from the landfill by 2017. The City is currently in the process of updating its plan. Mandatory recycling and composting are key components of this updated plan.
Curbside recycling in Boulder began in the early 1970s thanks to the work of visionary Eco-Cycle staff and volunteers who collected recyclables in a yellow school bus retrofitted for this purpose. Since then, the city has adopted curbside recycling followed by curbside composting for single-family homes. While this program has been successful—single family homes currently divert nearly 50 percent of their waste through recycling and composting—the City’s overall diversion rate is only about 32 percent. For the City to achieve its Zero Waste goal, businesses and multi-family homes must be significantly more involved in waste reduction. According to the city, businesses currently divert only 28 percent of their waste and multi-family homes only manage to divert 21 percent.
In 2014, Eco-Cycle launched a major effort to increase business recycling and composting in Boulder. Strategic media outreach has been and continues to be a central component of this campaign. The focus of the media work was to educate local elected decision-makers, businesses, property owners and residents about the need to boost recycling and composting rates and the benefits of doing so for the entire community and then motivate people to take action. In the fall of 2014, Eco-Cycle launched a major media effort. We decided reach out directly to businesses with information about the need for and benefits of recycling, and we decided to do that through the media and their customers. Eco-Cycle developed postcards for people to deliver to their favorite businesses encouraging them to recycle and compost. Meanwhile Eco-Cycle prepared fact sheets for businesses and the public, activated social media, including our website, and pitched local media outlets in the City of Boulder.
In early October, Eco-Cycle reached out to the Boulder Chamber and they agreed to partner with us on a press release (http://ecocycle.org/mediacenter) for local news outlets. As a result, The Daily Camera ran a front page story on October 6th, including photos and a video, featuring the Eco-Cycle program and focusing on the need for businesses in Boulder to recycle more. “Boulder Chamber, Eco-Cycle want businesses to 'take action' on recycling.”
This story was followed by an opinion piece, “It’s Time for Boulder to Lead Again,” by Crystal Gray, Eco-Cycle board member, and Dan Bruckner, owner of A Spice of Life, advocating that the Boulder City Council require local businesses to recycle and compost. Several positive letters-to-the-editor followed.
The October 6th article, which highlighted the fact that businesses generate roughly two-thirds of the trash the city sends to the landfill each year while only recycling and composting one-quarter of their waste hit home. More than 30 local businesses subsequently signed onto a letter in support of mandatory business recycling and composting in the city. The letter also included the owners of multi-family homes. In November 2014, KGNU did an hour-long morning show on business recycling in Boulder as a result of our outreach. That show featured Randy Moorman, campaigns director for Eco-Cycle, Dan Matsch, Center for Hard-to-Recycle Materials director, and Kara Mertz, environmental action project manager for the City of Boulder’s Local Environmental Action Division. Eco-Cycle provided background for the story, including a pre-show tour of the Boulder County Recycling Center and the Center for Hard-to-Recycle Materials, for Vero Hires, who did the story. “Businesses Recycling in Boulder” posted November 17, 2014, by KGNU, in “A Public Affair.”
Media coverage over the last six months highlighting the need for business recycling and composting in Boulder has significantly helped to raise the profile of this issue, generate significant, positive business interest, as well as support from local citizens who have written letters to City Council and conducted volunteer outreach to their friends and neighbors. The Boulder City Council took up the issue of mandatory business recycling and composting at its February 17th meeting. During the public comment period, roughly 50 people, including business representative from Rally Software, which signed the letter mentioned previously, a former Mayor of Boulder, and students spoke in support of mandatory business recycling and composting in Boulder. That evening the City Council directed staff to move forward with an ordinance that would require local businesses, including the owners and managers of multi-family units, to recycle and compost and provide recycling and composting services for their customers and tenants. This aspect of the meeting resulted in two additional stories in The Daily Camera: “Boulder could require business recycling” and “Boulder council supports commercial recycling requirements.”
The ordinance language is currently being fine-tuned, and the Boulder City Council is scheduled for a first reading of the ordinance on May 5th to be followed by a public hearing and a vote as early as May 19th. During this time, Eco-Cycle will pitch a follow-up story to local news outlets before the May 5th meeting as well as conduct additional editorial outreach. We believe the Boulder City Council took up the issue of mandatory business recycling and composting at its February 17th meeting as a direct result of our media outreach, education and advocacy and that the ultimate outcome will be enactment of a new ordinance that will move Boulder significantly closer to its Zero Waste goal through increased recycling and composting.
Deanna Hostetler, Clean Valley Recyclng
Deanna Hostetler’s outstanding efforts in the Arkansas Valley are transforming the way people think about recycling. She single-handedly opened Clean Valley Recycling at the old Sugar Factory in Swink, Colorado. In a highly resistant community, recycling was a bad word.
In Rocky Ford, Deanna spearheaded a Saturday drop-off program with the city. Citizens are able to drop off all recyclable material from 8 a.m. to 12 p.m. The materials are then taken to the Swink warehouse for processing. Everything from plastic, paper, glass and cardboard are accepted. Clean Valley Recycling services cardboard recycling bins around the city and has signed up most of the commercial business in the City of Rocky Ford. Volunteers from different organizations help each Saturday. Clean Valley Recycling recently went into a partnership with the City of Rocky Ford. Through this partnership, Deanna has started the only curbside recycling program in the Arkansas Valley. Clean Valley Recycling will be responsible for all customer service while the city will help with advertising and promotion of the service. Deanna’s abundant energy is helping the city reduce its landfill cost and change the culture toward green sustainability.
Each week, more and more residents are becoming aware of the programs. Clean Valley Recycling gave an interactive presentation at the Jefferson Middle School and to the Washington Elementary School to make kids more aware of the benefits of recycling. Each year the Clean Valley Recycling hosts an All-Counties Barn Dance in their warehouse and decorations for the dance are made with the different materials they process. Clean Valley Recycling posts ads in the local newspapers on the services that they provide and the benefits of recycling.
With a small staff, Clean Valley Recycling has taken on a mammoth endeavor to transform a region. Deanna really deserves this award for her efforts. She also has a full-time job as a nurse and is an accomplished organist and a community leader.
Hilary’s career in waste and recycling started thirty-four years ago. After studying environmental issues in college, she worked in Yorkshire, England (where she is from) running anti-litter campaigns and urban beautification projects. Her success led to being hired by the Government of Bermuda where she conducted shoreline and roadside litter surveys, occasionally wore a “Litter Critter” suit, researched back-hauling of recyclables to the US, and reported on whether the island should have a bottle bill. Later, Hilary moved to California, where she managed recycling projects for the San Jose Conservation Corps, worked as a commercial waste advisor for the City of San Jose, and enjoyed a brief foray into environmental consulting.
After relocating to Colorado in 1992, she joined Boulder County as Solid Waste Coordinator (and later as Assistant Division Manager). In this role, she supported a community-visioning process that preceded the 1994 passage of a seven-year recycling sales and use tax which raised $23 million to fund the construction of the county’s MRF and associated programs. She successfully grew and managed the County’s HHW program and oversaw the design, permitting, and construction of a $2.5 million HHW/CESQG collection facility that opened in 2011. She also managed the county’s CAFR award-winning in-house zero waste program, ran mountain transfer stations, community drop-off centers, and spring cleanup programs, and helped to expand the county’s hauler licensing program to include PAYT pricing and curbside composting.
As chair of CAFR’s Colorado Product Stewardship Council (CoPSC), Hilary led a statewide team that researched successful stewardship programs in other states, pushed for EPR for paint, and brought experts to Colorado to help make the case. These efforts led to Colorado’s first EPR law paint for latex and oil-based paint. Hilary’s vision is that this successful initiative will pave the way for additional opportunities to engage producers in managing the discards from their economic activities.
Hilary’s activities in other areas have also been beneficial at the state level: One fortunate outcome of Boulder County’s 2011 “Fourmile Fire” was Hilary’s subsequent work to develop a disaster debris management plan and template that could be used in disaster clean-up efforts across the state. Hilary led the effort to clean up the complex fire debris (much of which was designated asbestos-laden by CDPHE) and made every effort to ensure that scrap metal and any other materials that could be recycled, were. The management plan/template was completed in September 2013, just days before the devastating front-range floods, providing Hilary and her colleagues an excellent opportunity to test and fine-tune it while helping with emergency and flood cleanup efforts.
Over the years, she has hired and trained many staff who have gone on to become leaders in the Colorado recycling and waste community, including - but not limited to – Eric Heyboer, and Darla Arians.
Hilary served several years on the Colorado SWANA Board, as well as Rocky Mountain NAHMMA, served on a variety of CAFR panels, and doing lots of volunteer work for all these organizations (and probably more we don’t know about). She served for three years’ on the NAHMMA National Board of Directors and remains an adjunct board member of this group.
She currently works for the Boulder County Commissioner's Office on zero waste policy and implementation, and statewide EPR, a position she will retire from later in June.
Hilary holds a Bachelor of Science degree in Human Ecology and a Master's degree in Public Administration.
Every person in the recycling industry has a reputation that reflects every deal they have made throughout the history of their career. Joe Francis is a man with a great reputation, and it is easy to see why by spending just a little bit of time with him. Passion is the first word that comes to mind when he speaks about what he does. (And pride is the first word that comes to mind when you read the following words compiled by Joe’s daughter, Lycee Francis.)
I was lucky enough to experience his passion in both a personal and professional setting. Growing up in the recycling industry, I could not have been more proud to have him come in and speak to my class and teach them how to make paper using a blender, water and my spelling test. But his contributions go far beyond my 2nd-grade class.
Tim Towndrow of Republic Services first began his relationship with Joe in the 1980s in Fremont, California, where Tim was a “newbie” at Weyerhaeuser and Joe took Tim under his wing. Joe trained Tim in the field and taught him all of the dos and don’ts of scrap paper--which Tim was very thankful for. In 1990 Joe was transferred to the Weyerhaeuser plant in Carrollton, Texas, which he ran until 1994 when he began the next step of his career by sourcing material for RockTenn’s paper mill in Dallas. With all of his success, his move to Denver in 1997 to become the mill buyer for the Republic Paperboard mill was no surprise. This is when Tim and Joe’s paths crossed once again as Tim was at the Weyerhaeuser plant in Denver which Joe bought paper from.
With the closing of the mill in 2001, Joe began his biggest contribution to recycling in Colorado by starting Centennial Recycling in an upstairs bedroom of his home, using a line of credit on his house as capital. Tim sees Joe as being a key driver in establishing a recycling brokerage in the Rocky Mountain region, which has since grown immensely. Joe has always been respected, worked his tail off and established many relationships in the industry that he still has today. Joe has been a mentor, coach and worn many hats in the industry. He has impacted many, from suppliers to buyers and including organizations such as CAFR.
Jamie Gormley first got to work with Joe as one of his suppliers and later joined him as one of Centennial Recycling’s most successful representatives. Jamie said, “My first memory of Joe was standing in our filthy warehouse and him taking paper from a stack of bales and putting it in his mouth. I now know this is a trick to grading paper, but at the time I thought he was a crazy person who was very hungry. Little did I know at that time that this starving lunatic would have such a major impact on my career and life.
“As Joe will tell you, he has as many customers in Snakebite, WY as in the Denver area. This is because EVERYONE likes Joe. He has earned everyone’s friendship and respect due to his integrity, honesty and all around good nature. Joe has been a mentor and friend to many of the individuals driving recycling in the Rocky Mountain West today.
“Working as a mill buyer, plant manager and company owner, Joe has had an enormous impact on the recycling industry, seen countless tons of material recycled and successfully managed many challenging situations. Joe has been referred to as Yoda, due to his experience and knowledge of the industry and those involved in it.
“It saddens me that Joe will no longer be participating in the day to day recycling activities in Colorado but his effect on the industry will be realized for many, many years to come. Thank you Joe.”
Fay Fisk, another thriving Centennial Recycling representative, initially worked with Joe on “the other side” when Joe provided recyclables to her company. Fay said, “My first dealings with Joe in this crazy business was as a paper buyer for a very picky and difficult company. I cannot believe that after all the ups and downs of that experience, he still invited me to join Centennial Recycling! Joe is a born teacher, trainer,and mentor. He is patient….and he sees the potential that people can achieve, if they are willing to try. Joe has built a company that reflects his beliefs in how business should be conducted: with respect, trust, honesty, and hard work! I am blessed to have the opportunity to work with Joe and to be working with the team of special people he has put together. He has taught me so much about what I am capable of and how to have fun being on the other side of the table! Thank you, Joe!”
Joe’s contributions don’t stop with mentoring and coaching people to become successful in the industry. Since Joe started Centennial Recycling in 2002, he has consulted for, developed and helped to improve the recycling programs of more than 200 businesses in the Southwest region; has arranged for more than 322,000 tons (644 million lbs.) of recyclables to be sent to end users; has placed, and in some cases financed, equipment for dozens of partners; and has touched more people in the industry than he is probably aware of.
This is just a brief summary of a very small portion of Joe’s career. What Joe Francis has done is bridge a gap between communities, businesses, the general public and the actual recycling industry. Many people have contributed to increasing the collection of recyclables, but none of that works unless the collection is done in a manner that makes the commodities of value to the end user. Joe approaches each of his partnerships with an interesting perspective of working with each supplier to build a personalized program around their needs that will also be beneficial to the end user where the material will ultimately be made into something new. His unique perspective, coming from a diverse background, really allows the recycling programs he creates to align with the actual recycling industry. From start to finish, from the waste stream to the end product, Joe has been a part of each step and now assists those in each step to develop a collaborative process to make recycling a reality.
The impact one person is able to make is incredible, but what is more amazing is that Joe has used his career to not only change recycling in the Southwest region, but to mentor those he worked with so that they may carry on his work. Joe Francis will always be a part of the recycling industry and will be a remembered name for years to come. As he slowly steps out of a leadership role in Centennial Recycling, he does not worry about his work going to waste because his ethics, passion and entrepreneurship live on with each of us that he has coached through the years. Carrying on his legacy is one way we are able to thank Joe for everything he has done for us, but we would like to see others recognize his lifetime achievements, which is why we feel he is so deserving of this great honor.