A new public education campaign in Denver aims to boost the city’s recycling rate from 23% to the national average of 34%, thanks to a $250,000 recycling grant from The Coca-Cola Foundation.

Billboards, bus shelter signs, digital advertising and postcards will get residents thinking more about recycling. The Recycling Partnership and Denver Public Works will tag trash carts with informational cards starting in eight east Denver neighborhoods, reaching approximately 22,000 households.

“We want recycling to be top of mind for our residents and visitors, so clear and concise information is critical,” said Denver Mayor Michael B. Hancock, who announced the campaign during a June 18 press event. “Denver has made great strides over the years educating people about the benefits of recycling and composting. Now, we have the opportunity to amplify this approach. We want our residents to be thinking about recycling every day whether they’re on a commute, taking out the trash, getting the mail, or going online.”

Denver Mayor Michael B. Hancock announces the recycling education campaign at a June 18 press event.
Denver Mayor Michael B. Hancock announces the recycling education campaign at a June 18 press event.

Denver is one of seven cities receiving a recycling grant through The Coca-Cola Foundation as part of an effort to improve recycling rates, reduce waste and help make communities more sustainable. The grants support innovative pilots to help address some of the barriers to public recycling in the United States – including a lack of understanding of what can be recycled (and how).

“The Coca-Cola Foundation places a priority on helping communities become more sustainable by supporting innovative recycling solutions at a local level,” said Helen Smith Price, president, The Coca-Cola Foundation. “We hope this new program in Denver serves as a catalyst to drive increased recycling rates in the city becomes a model for other communities to follow.”

This education program builds on a successful pilot program from The Recycling Partnership that in 2017 resulted in a 57% decrease in overall recycling contamination and a 27% increase in recycling participation in select areas of Denver, Atlanta and Chicago.

Swire Coca-Cola USA, the local Coca-Cola bottler, will amplify the campaign through many of its partnerships and customer relationships. Safeway grocery shoppers, for example, will be reminded to recycle through in-store advertising and promotions mirroring the city’s education effort. The retail campaign is designed to help residents think about recycling not just at home, but also when they are out shopping and exploring the entertainment scene in Denver.

 “Swire Coca-Cola and our local partners like Recycle Colorado, Safeway, and Denver Arts & Venues are being very creative in our approach to recycling in Denver,” said Scarlett J. Moss, vice president of public affairs and government relations, Swire Coca-Cola USA. “As the local bottler and distributor of Coca-Cola and other beverage brands, we care deeply about this community and are acutely aware of the need to maximize recycling rates for all kinds of waste, including plastics. We believe we can, through partnership and innovation, increase local recycling rates more quickly and more holistically.”

Learn more about recycling and see a list of all items the city accepts for recycling at denvergov.org/DenverRecycles.