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Opinion: Colorado’s dismal recycling record needs a response and we have a plan

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Opinion: Colorado’s dismal recycling record needs a response and we have a plan

The news isn’t good when it comes to recycling and composting in Colorado.

The Colorado Public Interest Research Group (CoPIRG) released their yearly State of Recycling and Composting report a few weeks ago and it turns out we are not the green state we like to think we are, and we are moving in the wrong direction.

Colorado’s statewide recycling and composting rate is a dismal 15%, less than half the national rate of 32%, and behind our state goal to reach 28% diversion by 2021.

Our recycling rate for plastics was even worse than our overall rate — only 9% of plastic containers and plastic packaging is recycled statewide. On average, Colorado residents recycle and compost only 1 pound per person per day, while residents in leading states like Oregon and Washington recycle 3.1 pounds per person per day —over three times more than Colorado residents.

There is widespread support for recycling as seen through municipal surveys in Colorado and a recent national poll that shows 84% of American adults agree that “investing in expanding and improving our nation’s recycling infrastructure should be a higher priority.” Despite this, Colorado continues to lack the recycling services needed to recycle and compost more and our patchwork system has left people confused about what — or how — to recycle.  Statewide recycling can be an important economic driver for Colorado, creating jobs and improving trade imbalances with foreign nations by relying less on materials shipped from around the world.

Colorado is failing to meet its goals to reduce waste, reduce carbon emissions, and curb plastic pollution. If we don’t want to continue on this trajectory, now is the time for a system-wide solution to modernize and transform Colorado’s recycling and composting systems. A “producer responsibility” policy for containers, packaging and printed paper is the most impactful, game-changing policy that can be adopted in 2022.

This legislative session we will introduce a bipartisan producer responsibility policy as the highest priority action to fundamentally revamp and expand recycling in Colorado, eliminate unnecessary and wasteful packaging, and reduce plastic pollution and carbon emissions. This policy will continue to allow municipalities to choose how they engage in recycling. It will ensure that every Coloradan — urban and rural, living in a single-family home or apartment complex — has access to recycling that is as convenient as their trash service and includes the most readily recyclable materials, such as plastic bottles, aluminum cans, glass bottles, cardboard, newspaper and other printed paper.

A producer responsibility policy will have producers pay for the end-of-life management of containers and packaging materials they put on Colorado markets based on the type of material and its environmental impact. The sustainable funding generated from such a program will:  provide convenient access to recycling to every Coloradan; greatly increase our recycling rate and reduce carbon emissions; create a single statewide list of what is recyclable to reduce confusion and increase participation; directly reduce costs for local governments by covering the costs to operate recycling drop-off centers and curbside recycling programs.

And it will boost local economies. Recycling creates nine times more jobs than landfills and this policy will help attract more businesses to Colorado to use our recycled materials to make new products.

In general, this policy will reduce the amount of non-recyclable single-use plastics and encourage companies to use less packaging overall and to choose more recyclable, less toxic packaging formats.

Across the country, environmental groups, recycling operators, consumer goods companies, and the business community are coming together to support producer responsibility policies for containers and packaging. Over 40 countries have mandatory producer responsibility policies for containers and packaging materials, and Maine and Oregon adopted the first U.S. policies in 2021. Colorado’s producer responsibility program for paint, PaintCare Colorado, has been in place since 2015. The program has resulted in over 4 million gallons of recycled paint and tens of thousands of dollars of savings to local governments from paint collection services.

Companies around the world are making bold commitments to use more recycled content in their products and to support recycling, such as the Every Bottle Back initiative by US beverage companies. This is just good business. According to the 2021 Global Green Buying Report, 67% of consumers consider themselves environmentally aware and concerned with sustainability, and 83% of consumers among younger generations showed a willingness to pay more for sustainable packaging. Consumer opinion continues to trend towards sustainability and is impacting purchase decisions.

Recycling and using less are two simple steps we can all take every day to reduce climate pollution, protect our clean air and water, and support healthy ecosystems. This policy will help make it easier for Coloradans to be good stewards of our environment and our climate while creating green jobs and building more resilient local economies.

We have the power to align our image of a green Colorado with reality. Let’s make it happen.

Lisa Cutter of Littleton represents House District 25, including the mountains of Jefferson County. Kevin Priola is State Senator from Henderson who represents Senate District 25 in Adams County.

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Electric vehicle batteries scatter and catch fire in I-44 semi crash near Rolla

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Electric vehicle batteries scatter and catch fire in I-44 semi crash near Rolla

ROLLA, Mo. – A truck carrying 33 lithium-ion batteries designed for Chevy Volt cars, each weighing 1000 pounds, overturned at mile marker 184 on Interstate 44 last night. A second tractor-trailer struck the truck and crashed into the median. This caused the batteries to scatter everywhere and catch fire.

Rolla Firefighters were able to put out the fire. It took 12 people to free the victims. The truck drivers and one passenger were injured. They were flown to a hospital in Columbia for treatment.

The crash took around four hours to clear. A team from St. Louis is at the scene this morning to help with the clean-up operation, according to the City of Rolla Fire & Rescue.

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First half of America’s Center expansion project out to bid

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First half of America’s Center expansion project out to bid

ST. LOUIS – A study on the expansion of America’s Center in Downtown St. Louis is complete and will be delivered to the St. Louis County Council on Friday.

More than a year after the city closed on the sale of bonds for its half of the $210 million expansion and rehab of the America’s Center, St. Louis County has continued to resist issuing its half of the bonds amid a dispute over the financing of a recreation center in north St. Louis County, FOX 2’s partners at the Post-Dispatch reported.

St. Louis City’s board of public service is handling the construction bids and they initially delayed issuing a request for bids for the first half of the project due to the uncertainty over when the county would move. Just before Christmas, a working group of city and county officials approved putting the project’s first half out to bid. This is an $83 million expansion of exhibit hall space along Cole Street on the site of a recently demolished parking garage. Contractor responses are due by March 1, and a contractor should be chosen by early May.

St. Louis County Councilman Ernie Trakas asked in November for the cost-benefit study of the convention center from the St. Louis economic development partnership. County budget officials said the pandemic’s hit to hotel taxes means it will be years before there is any excess to use for a new project. Councilwoman Rita Heard Days called for the county to back the project with a portion of its proceeds from a settlement with the NFL and Los Angeles Rams.

Final construction drawings for the second half of the project which includes the construction of a new public plaza on surface lots along the convention plaza and a new ballroom inside America’s Center should be complete by next month and go out to bid in April.

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Police searching for 12-year-old Aurora boy who didn’t return from school

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Police searching for 12-year-old Aurora boy who didn’t return from school

Aurora Police Department

Isiah Sanchez

Aurora police are searching for a 12-year-old boy who didn’t return home from school Thursday afternoon.

Isaiah Sanchez was last seen at Aurora West College Preparatory Academy at 10100 E. 13th Ave. at around 3 p.m. on Jan. 27, the Aurora Police Department said.

It’s believed he didn’t return home after getting into trouble for skipping school, according to police.

Sanchez is described as a 4-foot-11, 110 pound boy with brown hair and brown eyes. He was last seen wearing a black zip-up jacket, black pants and gray Nike shoes.

Police are concerned about Sanchez’ safety due to the “frigid weather.”

Anyone who has seen Sanchez or has any information about his possible whereabouts is asked to call the Aurora911 Center at (303) 627-3100.

Read the full story from our partner at thedenverchannel.com.

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