November 15, 2021
Andrew Barth, 303-441-1032
Resource Conservation Division celebrates two milestone anniversaries
The Boulder County Recycling Center has been in operation for 20 years and the Hazardous Materials Management Facility has been open for 10 years.
Boulder County, Colo. - Boulder County Resource Conservation Division (RCD) is proud to have served the community through the Recycling Center for 20 years and the Hazardous Materials Management Facility (HMMF) for 10 years.
The Boulder County Recycling Center (BCRC) story starts in 1993 when the newly formed Solid Waste Task Force, chaired by Boulder County Commissioner Homer Page, proposed a new countywide sales tax to be placed on the ballot that asked voters to fund the process for developing a new recycling processing facility, among other waste diversion programs and services. The following year, voters approved the referendum for a 0.10% sales and use tax for seven years. That fund has not only built the Boulder County Recycling Center but also created the Zero Waste Funding program which has awarded over $1.2 million to local governments, non-profit organizations, and private companies to further advance Zero Waste in our community.
Zero Waste is a resource management strategy modeled on nature’s waste-free and self-sustaining systems. It conserves all resources through responsible production, consumption, reuse, and recovery of products, packaging, and materials. In 2005, the Boulder County Commissioners set Zero Waste as a county priority by adopting a Zero Waste resolution that aims to achieve “Zero Waste—or darn near” by 2025.
The BCRC and the HMMF are essential elements for achieving Boulder County’s Zero Waste goal. In 20 years of operation by local non-profit Eco-Cycle, the BCRC has diverted over 915,650 tons of recyclable material from the landfill – keeping this valuable resource circulating in the economy. Almost 58,000 tons of recyclables were diverted from the landfill during 2020 alone, and the center is equipped to process 100,000 tons per year to help accommodate an increasing recycling rate.
In its ten-year tenure, the HMMF has had over 160,133 households drop off more than 5,374 tons of various hazardous materials and has had more than 2,351 small-quantity generator businesses bring in over 492,282 pounds of hazardous materials. These figures do not include all of the diverted material collected at the historical household hazardous waste collection site operated by the county at the Western Disposal transfer station for many years beforehand. The HMMF has achieved an impressive 90% diversion rate, keeping this material out of landfills and ecosystems, largely thanks to the PaintCare Stewardship program and the re-use program at the facility.
The BCRC is a state-of-the-art facility with many sustainable features, including: a 225 Kilowatt photovoltaic system; clerestory daylighting; wall boards made of BCRC carton stock; recycled carpet; reuse of roof water for irrigation; upcycled laundry detergent bottles as countertops; native plant and xeriscape landscaping; innovative water polishing techniques to protect the wetlands; and, a rail spur to reduce truck traffic thereby reducing greenhouse gas emissions.
Both the BCRC and HMMF are currently undergoing exciting upgrades. The BCRC is currently updating its educational displays to be more interactive, impactful, and reflect current processing equipment. The HMMF is currently expanding its material storage capacity and office space to be able to serve more businesses and residents. Due to the COVID pandemic, BCRC tours have been paused for the rest of the year and the HMMF is open by appointment only (boco.org/hmmfappointment).
Learn more about the Boulder County Recycling Center and the Hazardous Materials Management Facility’s history through these timelines:
Boulder County Recycling Center (BCRC) Timeline
2001 BCRC was built as a dual-stream Material Recovery Facility (MRF) and diverted 17,490 tons of recyclables from the landfill.
2005 Boulder County Commissioners adopt Zero Waste resolution that aims to achieve “Zero waste—or darn near,” by 2025.
2007 First retrofit to handle single-stream recycling.
2017 Retrofitted with the addition of two new plastics optical sorters, and an additional eddy current which allows businesses and residents to recycle more types of plastics.
2017 Installed ReWall wall boards along the BCRC tour hallway from bales of BCRC’s carton stock creating a closed-loop installation
2018 Retrofitted with installation of expanded cardboard presort to capture higher volumes of smaller pieces of cardboard, and a film plastics extraction system.
2020 90% of material received is diverted from the landfill. BCRC retrofitted to include two new artificial intelligence (A.I.) robots on the mixed paper fiber line and residual line to sort, pick, and place material with higher speed and accuracy.
2021 Educational displays are currently being updated. Tours will (hopefully) be open to the public again in 2022.
Hazardous Materials Management Facility (HMMF) Timeline
1991 HHW collection events begin, HHW interim storage facility built at the Western Disposal
2009 County provides funds from the recycling tax for the construction of the new HMMF
2011 HMMF opens. The facility is located on county-owned land next to the existing BCRC and serves up to 20,000 households and 500 businesses per year.
2019 90% of material received is diverted from the landfill.
2019 First time serving over 20,000 households
2021 The HMMF is currently expanding the material storage and office space to accommodate growing demand.