Titanium Sponsor

Ball Corporation

Platinum Sponsor


Gold Sponsor

5280 Waste Solutions

Silver Sponsor

Alpine Waste & Recycling

Host Committee

A special thank you to the Summit for Recycling Host Committee:

EverGreen ZeroWaste

Town of Snowmass Village

Submit a Nomination

To submit a nomination for 2018 and for a description of each award, criteria, and areas of consideration, download the nomination form (PDF).

Nominations are due by 3:00pm March 30.

2018 Recycling Awards Gala

Monday, June 4 - 6:00 PM
Snowmass Village, CO


Contact Amy Randell for more information.

Recycling Hall of Fame

Take a walk down memory lane and see past winners.

Recycling Awards

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.

2018 Recycling Awards

The 2018 awards will be presented at the Recycling Awards Gala Monday, June 4, in Snowmass Village during the 29th annual Summit for Recycling. Dinner, drinks and entertainment provided.

Download a nomination form

Congratulations to last year's award winners:

Outstanding Business Recycling/Diversion Program

Arapahoe Basin

Arapahoe Basin is a leader among Colorado ski resorts with progressive sustainable initiatives, educating and encouraging all guests, employees and even the community to live sustainably.

Arapahoe Basin has kept track of its recycling efforts since 2009, and since then has recycled about 342,000 pounds. Employees are able to bring in all recyclables from home including electronics. The goal of the recycling program is to move toward zero waste. The composting program prevents organic waste from entering landfills and, through decomposition, turns waste into nutrient rich soil to use for growing healthy, organic food. There is a plan in motion to reduce/end the sale and use of plastic water bottles in the ski area, reducing plastics in the landfill significantly. Even cutlery provided in cafeterias is reusable throughout the ski area, further diverting unnecessary waste from landfill.

Arapahoe Basin is a part of the National Ski Areas Association Climate Challenge, which helps ski areas reduce greenhouse gas emissions. Arapahoe Basins’ program numbers are rising -- all the endeavors it commits to daily benefit the environment. Arapahoe Basin is determined to make large-scale renovations to all buildings in the ski area to increase efficiency. The newest example is the A-Basin Kids Center that uses solar energy, low-water-usage fixtures and programmable thermostats. The interior woodworking and trim is locally sourced beetle-kill pine and reclaimed barnwood. Arapahoe Basin is focused on ‘closing the loop’ at the ski area. The Basin treats its own water used to make snow, and has the most efficient, low-water-use equipment in Summit County. The ski area encourages all departments to make purchases from environmentally-responsible companies who manufacture environmentally-friendly products.

Araphoe Basin is commited to being an example to the community and all ski areas in initiating sustainable, renewable and environmentally focused changes. “We strive to continually improve our environmental performance in order to provide enjoyment of Arapahoe Basin for future generations of snow and mountain enthusiasts” (http://arapahoebasin.com/ABasin/about/environment/default.aspx).

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Outstanding Government or Nonprofit Recycling/Diversion Program

Four Corners Recycling Initiative

The Four Corners Recycling Initiative (FCRI) was initially formed with a Recycling Resources Economic Opportunity grant in 2007 and has been providing Montezuma County residents with free, public recycling drop-off sites since its inception.

Throughout its history, the FCRI board has served on a volunteer basis, logging hundreds, if not thousands, of combined hours of service. As an organization, FCRI has made a difference measurable in the tons of material diverted from the landfill. FCRI has done all of this without the benefit of a single tipping fee for service, raising all of the money necessary to operate diversion activities via fundraisers, partnerships, grants, cost share agreements, rebates, commodity sales and donations.

The impact FCRI has had on the community, however, is far greater than tons diverted from the landfill. The organization's sustainability serves as a model of fiscal responsibility in the provision of a public good. The initial reaction in the community when FCRI came online was that recycling was simply going to be another "tax" without representation on county residents. FCRI's ability to do business without taxpayer funds or tipping fees and stay solvent silenced those concerns. Because of FCRI's model, local governments and businesses are expanding recycling opportunities and collection systems for residents. The county landfill is working on a hub-and-spoke model and local companies are now offering recycling services to their customers.

Additionally, FCRI has been successful in raising awareness around recycling and waste diversion in the local papers and also in the local schools. The FCRI recycling bins are firmly part of the community now -- when the program began there were no recycling opportunities for Montezuma county residents. While FRCI itself may not have grown significantly, its actions have inspired growth in the community leading to increased diversion, and that in the end is what matters.

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Outstanding Media Coverage

Kevin Fixler
Summit Daily News

In Fall 2017, Summit County's recycling operations were in danger of being shut down due to a financial shortfall. This was due to one of the local haulers choosing to take Summit County's trash to a Front Range landfill where tip fees are cheaper. The Summit Daily's environmental reporter, Kevin Fixler, heard what was happening and wrote several articles on the crisis. This inspired the citizens of the county to stand up and take action in town meetings, which led to discussions on how to change the current situation. Ultimately, the community passed a waste ordinance that designated the local landfill as a designated disposal site, thus saving the recycling operations from losing funding.

Summit County considers slashing recycling over landfill cutbacks – November 15, 2017

Summit County government looks at alternatives to save regional recycling – November 22, 2017

Summit County recycling conflict heads toward local trash-flow resolution – January 28, 2017

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Outstanding Elected Official

Councilor Jolon Clark, City and County of Denver

Councilman Clark has been an advocate for increasing Denver’s recovery rate within the City of Denver. With his assistance Denver’s City Council has placed solid waste as one of their top three priorities for 2017. The solid waste goals are to:

Councilman Clark has also taken the time to lead the conversations around opportunities to improve waste diversion within the City of Denver. Hundreds of business and civic leaders gathered this past November at the 2016 Sustainable Denver Summit, armed with plans for action, eager to support Denver’s ambitious 2020 Sustainability Goals. Councilman Clark made the time to attend the Summit and the two materials management roundtables leading up to the summit.

The Materials and Waste Management breakout session at the Summit produced several “big ideas,” one of which enthusiastically outlined Councilman Clark’s idea of the potential implementation of a Pay-As-You-Throw (PAYT) system for the City of Denver. A few highlights of the plan include “free” recycling and composting services, volume-based pricing for trash and improving waste management incentives for Denver businesses. The PAYThrow action plan developed at the Sustainable Denver Summit effortlessly attracted 17 committed volunteers, all of whom are dedicated to taking Denver’s sustainability goals to the next level. Since the Summit, Councilman Clark has continued to lead and champion this working group and has had challenging conversations with residents about the benefits of shifting to a PAYT program.

Councilman Clark is a true champion for recycling and will hopefully help Denver become a leader in SWM through by advocating for new and even controversial policies and programs.

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Cara Russell Rising Star

Megan Lane, City and County of Denver and CAFR Treasurer

Megan Lane exemplifies the characteristics of the Cara Russell Rising Star Award. Having become a member of CAFR in 2014, she immediately ran for the Board of Directors, winning a seat in January 2015. Megan jumped right into this position, taking an active role in the Membership Committee and Human Resources Committee and running for and winning the position of treasurer in 2016 and 2017. Some of Megan's accomplishments include:

  1. Being instrumental in planning the first "Young at Heart" get together at the Summit for Recycling
  2. Planning two Board Retreats
  3. Hiring and onboarding two executive directors
  4. Working with the Membership Committee to implement and plan roundtable and after-hour membership events
  5. Revising financial reports for the Board of Directors

Megan has an energy and passion for recycling that has contributed greatly to CAFR.

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Mereth Meade Volunteer of the Year

Russ Callas

Russ Callas is the founder of Haul Away Recycling, a local company focused on working in the construction industry to help with deconstruction, reuse and recycling efforts. Russ and his staff are passionate about materials conservation and recycle everything they are able to within the region.

Russ not only spends his professional career working hard to divert construction materials from the landfill, he also spends a significant amount of his free time volunteering on a number of boards and committees throughout Boulder County. Russ is a board member of Boulder County’s Resource Conservation Advisory Board, where he helps to inform and advise the County Commissioners on important waste-related issues. Russ also volunteers on subcommittees working on zero-waste infrastructure and local policy issues. Russ consistantly makes the time to volunteer and help forward zero-waste initiatives in Boulder County.

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Recycler of the Year

Nick Beni, SparkFun Electronics

What makes Nick’s work special as the facility manager for SparkFun Electronics is the amount of passion and dedication that he brings forth while working to achieve zero-waste goals. Nick has made a name for himself at every company he has worked with for his lead-by-example style of leadership, aggressive sustainability goals, relentless work ethic and his ingenuity.

While working for his previous employer, Ocean’s First, Nick implemented a hard-to-recycle program and garnered a reputation for being fastidious about preventing contamination and promoting good recycling habits in the office. SparkFun presented Nick with a whole new set of waste challenges because their manufacturing process produced a lot of hard-to-recycle material generated from about 20 different types of workstations. Nick noticed that something needed to be done and went to work making collection stations for each individual workstation. After personally washing and hand painting bins and laying down tape around each station, Nick was able to install and organize more than 20 waste stations. Immediately Nick increased the diversion rate of hard-to-recycle and single-stream plastics without costing his company money or taking up too much space on the factory floor. Providing a simple and well-organized process made it easier for warehouse employees to buy in.

Warehouses are notoriously difficult to manage and organize. Warehouse owners face a number of obstacles including limited space and highly variable waste streams. Nick’s ingenuity in creating warehouse solutions is remarkable and other organizations intend to use Nick’s work as an example and training tool for other facilities managers.

Nick’s dedication goes well beyond the warehouse. Last year he decided he wanted to eliminate plastic water bottles from his company’s yearly trade show. By encouraging attendees to bring reusable water bottles, providing “hydration stations” and getting buy in from his management, Nick successfully eliminated almost 600 plastic water bottles from the event. In addition to that, Nick got a group of volunteers to be “goalies” at all of the waste stations, which most likely helped to increase the event’s landfill diversion.

Nothing better exemplifies Nick’s dedication to zero waste than his participation in his company’s waste audit last year. Nick went the extra mile to literally get into the nitty gritty detail of his facility’s waste stream. Over the course of a morning, Nick took time out of his work day to help complete a waste audit, which meant sorting through his company’s recycling, trash and compost (almost 1,700 lbs!) piece by piece. The audit provided a lot of useful insight on how the company could reduce contamination, including revelations that the cleaning staff were putting the compost bags in the wrong bin and that employees needed better compost signage in the kitchen.

At SparkFun Nick has identified 10 hard-to-recycle plastic and scrap metal items that previously had been thrown in the trash. He has recycled more than 1,000 batteries through Rocky Mountain E-waste. Nick created a partnership with a local upcycling company, RAFT or Resource Area For Teachers, which takes industrial waste such as plastic scrap, bottle caps, old reels and turns them into affordable learning kits for students.

Nick constantly pushes the limits on what is possible at his facility and has transcended his role to go well beyond the status quo. Nick is a recycling hero because he is constantly evolving his program, getting management and employees alike to buy in to his zero-waste vision, being extremely hands on with his efforts, and finding creative solutions for his industries wide variety of challenges.

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Recycler of the Year

Dani Orth, Alliance for Sustainable Colorado

The Alliance Center is home to 50 sustainability-related organizations, but Dani clearly stands out as a leader among these already environmentally-conscious individuals. Although it is not necessarily in her job description as events manager, she has turned her personal passion for recycling into a benefit for the entire building.

Dani demonstrates her unique and noteworthy personal commitment to recycling every day. Beginning with the tiniest of actions, Dani is constantly aware of every opportunity to save something from ending up in a landfill. If you are walking down the street with Dani, she will pick up recyclable litter and carry it with her to the next recycling bin. If something is obviously compostable or recyclable, she will pick it out of a landfill bin and properly dispose of it. Dani also has a vendetta against single sided paper; instead of recycling, she ensures that the blank side of the paper is reused. There is also no compost collection at Dani’s personal residence, so she hauls it into The Alliance Center periodically. If you’re willing to commute to work with a full bag of compost in your passenger seat, that’s dedication!

In her professional life, Dani earned the Certifiably Green Denver* certificate in September 2016 for the event space she manages. This award certifies that the event space meets requirements in the following categories: Business Management, Water Conservation and Quality, Resource Management and Transportation. Specific to recycling, below are some of the common practices that uphold the certification:

There are more than 400 events per year in the space, and Dani is solely responsible for ensuring they are all held to these standards.

At every waste station in The Alliance Center there is compost, recycling and landfill. But that isn’t enough for Dani! In her 3.5-year tenure with the organization, she is responsible for bringing Terracycle to the building, which reuses and repurposes hard-to-recycle items. She’s done a great job communicating this option to the tenants in the building. In 2016 she collected:

TOTAL: over 17,500 pieces

The impressive part is these 17,500 pieces were placed in a bin that sits underneath Dani’s desk where she alone then sorted them, packaged them and shipped them out to the appropriate Terracycle brigade. Earlier in 2017, Dani expanded the Hard to Recycle Station from a bin under her desk to 11 bins in the basement where people can sort the waste themselves. She still spends several hours each week packing and shipping these items… all in the name of recycling! She’s on track to blow the 2016 numbers out of the water.

On top of the Hard to Recycle Station, Dani takes the lead on The Alliance Center’s annual Hard to Recycle Drive. This is a fun-filled, one-day outdoor event in which vendors collect items that can’t go into single-stream recycling or compost. There’s a huge amount of planning that goes into this event, and the result is impressive. Dani has been working hard in preparation for the 2017 drive and strives to beat the numbers from last year. In 2016 the event collected:

In addition to doing good for the planet, Dani’s efforts won The Alliance Center an Innovation Credit toward earning the LEED OB:O+M v4 Platinum certification. Chris Bowyer, Director of Building Operations, commented that, “Obtaining that credit was a 100% direct result of the HTR station and our annual event. Without Dani spearheading that work it would not have been in place and I would not have gotten that credit.”

It would be extremely easy for Dani to be satisfied simply by working for The Alliance Center, where the diversion rate is already 85%. What makes her unique is her initiative to take recycling to the next level even though no one is telling her to do so. The extra effort that Dani puts forth, just because it is the right thing to do, deserves more recognition than she receives. Plus, she does it with a smile! Whether she’s digging through trash or answering someone’s waste-related question, she’s always welcoming and open.

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Lifetime Achievement

Susie Gordon, City of Fort Collins

Susie Gordon has worked the front lines of recycling in northern Colorado for many years. Starting in the mid-‘90s, Susie was active both locally in her community as an employee of the City of Fort Collins, and statewide, not only with the Colorado Association for Recycling but also on the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment Pollution Prevention Advisory Board, then with the PPAB Assistance Committee.

As part of her local community, Susie worked tirelessly and participated in some of the most innovative and influential work to be done in the state. Some of her accomplishments in Fort Collins:

Susie is always on the lookout for ways to reduce waste, divert waste and increase recycling and, by doing so, has greatly impacted recycling in northern Colorado, resulting in 95 percent of Fort Collins’ residents recycling and more than half of the community's discards getting recycled or composted. Fort Collins is quietly ahead of the curve in Colorado, in large part due to Susie’s dedication.

As part of the group of stakeholders that merged with CAFR, Ms. Gordon sat on the newly-expanded board of directors and helped drive CAFR to represent more diverse sectors, build a successful conference, and engage in policy work. Policy work was always important to Susie, both locally and at the state level. She became an expert at learning about legislation that might impact the industry, whether positively or negatively, and sharing the information with others in the recycling community.

Her intelligence and open-mindedness allowed her to seek solutions outside those that may have had limited success. She welcomes input and comments, ideas and suggestions, actively seeking engagement from outside sectors to create more robust results in recycling and waste diversion. She spends inordinate amounts of time educating and reaching out to ensure that as many voices as possible are heard. This results in good policy, workable solutions (many of which are unique to the culture and needs of the Fort Collins community), and increased diversion.

On the PPABAC, Susie helped develop RFPs for the RREO grant program, worked to create a functional rebate system, reviewed grant applications, and consistently strove for the highest quality outcomes. She was not content with the status quo and pushed the envelope to reach bigger and better goals, and was an excellent devil’s advocate!

Her astute observations, her ability to see aspects that others could not, and her willingness to ask questions contributed greatly to the success of CAFR, the RREO grant program and to her work overall. She is quick with a smile and a compliment, always has a friendly word and always reaches out to support her colleagues. And she played a mean fiddle at the Summit gala on more than one occasion.

The true magic of Susie’s work is that she is a master connector of people and ideas. She has an amazing work ethic and wit to strategically accomplish her goals, but her ability to engage others in the work multiplies its effectiveness incredibly. Whether it is connecting a material being generated as “waste” from an entity that could be repurposed as a feedstock for another, or connecting a person with an idea to another person with a complimentary idea, Susie is always building connections whose sums are greater than their parts. She is open to new ideas and new approaches to long-standing challenges, and is always willing to take the time to listen, whether to a community member, a student, or a colleague.

Susie is also a generous volunteer in the community – she is active in the homeless shelter work of her church, volunteers regularly in support of local agriculture, and surely many volunteer pursuits of which we’re not yet aware. Susie embodies the values of integrity, creativity, generosity, accomplishment, and visionary thinking.

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