Fort Collins Zero Waste Updates

fc waste

Recycling’s Future in Our Community

Over the past few years the city of Fort Collins has contracted outside consulting firms to help determine the best
steps for reaching the highest level of recycling, and lower amount of waste sent to area landfills, known as the
“Road to Zero Waste” plan. This plan outlines the goal of reaching a “zero waste” status by 2020, just five short years from now.

Some steps have already been taken. This includes recycling requirements placed on:
• New construction projects in the city
• A ban on electronic waste at curbside (now a state law banning this waste from landfills)
• A ban for all residential and commercial customers from disposing of CARDBOARD in their trash

In recent months, Zero Waste Associates and a locally comprised advisory board put together ideas for a plan that will soon (October 2015) go to City Council for review and approval. While it is not yet completed, the proposed changes will affect all waste generators in the city consisting of single-family, multi-family complexes, and businesses. The efforts over the next five years are scheduled to include requirements for haulers to provide organics recycling options, ban recyclables and organics from the trash, and bundle the cost of recycling into all services provided (currently only required for single-family customers).

But it is critical to point out this does not mean the service is FREE. Instead, prices charged for trash service will include the cost of at least a minimum level of recycling. There has been some confusion in the community regarding GSI’s request to be allowed to charge a small fee for the recycling. It is important every- one knows that just because customers don’t see the fee on the bill does not mean they are not paying for the additional costs of the services. All services, especially services that require we add equipment, staff, and time to our collection routes – have a cost. GSI has been vocal in this planning process from the perspective that we believe our customers should clearly know the cost of the services provided.

Click Here to download the City of Fort Collin’s Road to Zero Waste Plan

Keep It Simple With A Small Fee

It’s time for a change. Not a big change, just a simple modification.

Beginning January 2015, substantial recycle fees have been instituted at the Larimer County Recycle Center (LCRC). Because of this, Gallegos Sanitation has approached Ft. Collins city officials to ask for a simple modification to the 20-year old ordinance so we can keep your waste removal bill economical.

The revision we seek is to enact a simple Recycle Recovery Fee (RRF) to help in covering these additional tipping fees for Single-Stream Recycling (SSR) at the LCRC. City officials plan to review the Pay-As-You-Throw ordinance (No. 058, 1995, the “free and unlimited recycling”

law) this FALL, however, we cannot afford to wait that long. GSI and other haulers are accruing LARGE expenses in order to keep single-stream recycling services operational in Ft. Collins. (See chart)


Since the start of the PAYT program, a rebate system existed to help sub-size some of the cost for tipping SSR at the Larimer County Recycle Center. But starting in January 2015, the rebate for SSR was replaced with a tipping fee that has increased each month. Currently, it costs more to tip recycling than to dump trash at the landfill. Thus, the cost to recycle has become economically UN-sustainable.

GSI is proposing an immediate modification of this PAYT ordinance which doesn’t allow the addition of any fees that reflect incremental costs associated with things like the cost of recycling services to Ft. Collins residences. It is our endeavor to keep our community clean, safe, and sustainable. With the addition of tipping fees at the LCRC it is apparent that we can no longer offer SSR service at no charge (check your bill – there is a $0 charge for residential SSR).

Please note, raising your trash rate to cover recycle expenses is not the answer to the problem. Why? Because doing so would cost our customers more money. The current Pay-As-You-Throw (PAYT) program is a three-tier system aimed at single, double, and triple rates (based on the volume/cart size you choose) for TRASH service. Simply stated – you’re better o_ having a Recycle Recovery Fee rather than paying for an increased TRASH rate that is double or triple the amount of the single base rate. Here’s a comparison (using hypothetical pricing) of how the RRF vs. TRASH rate increase would look: Please know that our effort is to advance the economic sustainability of recycling services in Northern Colorado. We appreciate the many customers who have supported us through the years and allowed GSI to grow with our ever-changing community.

For more details click here!

Screen Shot 2015-08-25 at 1.20.18 PM

Larimer County Starts Charging For Recycling

As of January 1, 2015, the Larimer County Recycle Center (LCRC) is no longer paying a single-stream recycling rebate to haulers who tip (dump) single- stream recycling (SSR) at their facility.  Instead, haulers like Gallegos Sanitation, now have to pay money to tip SSR. This charge is the result of a newly negotiated contract with the facilities operator, Waste Management, Inc.

Because of the new structure of the contract, we have experienced a $50 transformation to the cost of tipping single-stream recycling at the LCRC. The fee structure has changed from an $18/ton rebate in December, to paying tipping fees of $12.44/ton in January, $18.33/ton in February, $33.01/ton in March, and $34.01/ton for April. In contrast, the cost to dispose of TRASH at the local landfill is around $17-$25/ton.  Please note that this is thefirst time GSI has experienced 1) a cost to tip single-stream recycling at the LCRC and that 2) the fees to dump single-stream recycling material are greater than the cost to dump trash.


Recycling is not a “free” service and these new expenses to recycle will play a major role in our rate structures. The charges for processing single-stream materials will be passed onto the customer either in the form of a 1) temporary recycling fee OR 2) as an increased rate for your trash.  It is important to note that since 1996, the City of Fort Collins’ pay-as-you-throw (PAYT) ordinance requires haulers to provide free and unlimited recycling to residents alongside their trash service. However, the PAYT ordinance is 20 years old and does not reflect the current single-stream recycling pricing structure from the county.

At this time, the best solution we can endorse is to contact the City of Fort Collins, and ask that haulers like GSI are able to implement temporary “adjustable” fees to our billing.  This fee would be based on the tonnage rate charged by the Larimer County Recycle Center, ONLY when rates are above $0.00/ton for single-stream recyclables. This “temporary recycle fee” would prevent unnecessary permanent increases to trash rates because it reflects actual expenses incurred from processing single-stream recycling.


1)When in Doubt- Find Out- if you are not sure about an item, call GSI to find out-970-484-5556.  When you put an item in the bin that doesn’t belong, it is called contamination. Contamination increases the cost to recycle and can also result in the load being rejected. 

2)No Plastic Bags– Do not put plastic bags in single-stream recycling!  They get caught in the gears of the recycle center conveyor belts and cause equipment damage. But don’t fret- plastic bags can be recycled at most grocery stores.

3)Keep materials DRY and clean- The wetness devalues the integrity and quality of the materials.

4)Separate Glass from Single-stream- Although glass is accepted in single-stream, it is recommended to keep glass separated because glass devalues the rest of the single-stream materials when it breaks. The broken glass is taken with the other materials to a sorting facility and will be crushed. The crushed glass will be used as drainage aggregate for landfill pipes. (The crushed glass from the sorting facility includes too many rocks, ceramics, and other debris to be recycled into new glass bottles, but is used for the purposes listed above.)

INSTEAD- Sort glass bottles and jars out of single-stream and bring them to a Glass-only Drop-off Center– this is the highest, best use where glass bottles and jars are recycled into bottles (closed loop). This is because the glass collected in these bins is taken to a glass bottle recycling plant in Wheat Ridge where it is made into new glass bottles.

Glass Bottle Drop Offs:

Fort Collins– Rivendell Recycle Center 1702 Riverside Ave.

 Larimer County Landfill– South Taft Road

LovelandCity of Loveland Recycling Center,  400 N. Wilson Ave.

Wal-Mart, 1325 N. Denver Ave-  NW corner of parking lot.

Kroh Park,  5200 N. Garfield Ave. – Lot next to Habitat for Humanity.

Barnes Park, 405 S. Cleveland Ave.  Bin located in north parking lot.

Loveland Marketplace,  2979 N. Garfield Ave. – South of Dollar Tree.

Cattail Creek Golf Course,  2116 W. 29th St. – West parking lot.

WindsorBrush Recycling Site & Recycling Center, 801 Diamond Valley Dr.

For more details on glass recycling visit

Gallegos Sanitation would like to thank you for supporting a locally, family owned company!  By choosing GSI you help our community remain economically, socially and environmentally sustainable.