Submit a Nomination

For a description of each award, criteria, areas of consideration, and to submit a nomination, download the nomination form (PDF).

Submission Deadline Extended: 3:00pm, April 14, 2014.


Contact Juri Freeman for more information.

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.

2014 Recycling Awards

Submit a Nomination

The 2014 awards will be presented at the Recycling Awards Gala during the 25th annual CAFR Summit for Recycling on Monday, June 9, at Hillside Gardens in Colorado Springs. Tickets are $55. Click here to register. You do not have to attend the recycling conference to attend the gala.

Congratulations to the 2013 award winners:

Outstanding Outreach - Municipality or Nonprofit


Eco-Cycle provides many outreach programs to promote waste reduction, encourage reuse, recycling and composting, and advance Boulder County’s—and the nation’s—progress toward Zero Waste. A few highlights:

In 2012 alone, the Zero Waste website at received over 30 million hits. Each month, the site provides useful information and tools to more than 60,000 visitors. The website provides information on ways to take action for Zero Waste and sustainability, including guidelines, maps and information on Zero Waste programs for Boulder County residents. Eco-Cycle’s A-Z Guide is housed on the website and provides an up-to-date listing of 200 recyclable materials ranging from appliances to zippers. If it’s recyclable in Boulder County, it’s on the A-Z Guide.

Through social media tools including Facebook and Twitter, the organization provides insight and education on issues related to Zero Waste with a steady flow of nearly 1,000 monthly active users on its Facebook page, and close to 1,000 followers on Twitter. Eco-Cycle’s YouTube channel provides videos on topics ranging from recycling guidelines to Zero Waste lectures. Eco-Cycle also sends out 20 email newsletters or alerts a year to nearly 29,000 supporters and customers about recycling events, educational workshops and volunteer opportunities.

Eco-Cycle’s Hotline answers an average of 10,000 questions from residents and businesses on a variety of topics including single-stream recycling, hazardous waste and recycling unusual materials.

Eco-Cycle publishes 45,000 copies of the annual Eco-Cycle Guide that provides information on what is Zero Waste, and everything the reader needs to know about how to get there in Boulder County. Eco-Cycle’s 800 Block Leader volunteer network helps distribute the guides in neighborhoods.

Through Eco-Cycle’s Zero Waste Events program, Eco-Cycle staff works with vendors to ensure that all discards produced are either compostable or recyclable, eliminating (or substantially reducing) the need for trash bins. On average, Eco-Cycle educates 133,500 people at 24 large Zero Waste events a year throughout Boulder County, keeping an average of 88% of event discards out of the landfill through composting and recycling, saving the energy equivalent of 1,100 gallons of gasoline. Eco-Cycle also trains and consults for more than 32 do-it-yourself mid-sized events a year. Eco-Cycle works with the Boulder Farmers’ Market (the first ongoing Zero Waste event in the nation) and Longmont Farmers' Market, demonstrating Zero Waste in action to nearly 500,000 farmers’ market shoppers each year. Eco-Cycle is also helping individuals make their own events waste-free with customized Zero Waste Event Kits, serving 150 small to medium-sized events a year, including corporate meetings, weddings and backyard barbecues. Eco-Cycle, in partnership with the City of Longmont, knocks on 10,000 doors a year in Longmont neighborhoods to educate residents on curbside and drop-off recycling through the Recycle it Right! Program.

Eco-Cycle has worked to make Zero Waste programs inclusive of the Spanish-speaking population by producing materials such as recycling guidelines, brochures, the Holiday Recycling Guide and magnets in Spanish, using culturally-appropriate language. Eco-Cycle also provides a Spanish recycling hotline, resources in Spanish on its website, and Spanish language videos on its YouTube channel. Eco-Cycle’s Block Leader Network of volunteers plays a significant role in its outreach and education efforts. This group of 800 dedicated recyclers donates close to 1,000 hours of their time a year to provide Zero Waste services at events, staff special recycling collections, answer questions at recycling drop-off centers, assist with administrative tasks, distribute the Eco-Cycle Guide and promote political change in our community.

Reuse is a primary tenet of Zero Waste. For each type of material collected for recycling at the Center for Hard to Recycle Materials (CHaRM), Eco-Cycle works to add a reuse component. Newer computer equipment is repurposed through Boulder Community Computers, an organization that refurbishes the machines for students and others who might not be able to afford a new computer. Through this new program, 12,121 pounds of electronics were saved for reuse in 2011 alone. Programs are also in place to glean reusable bikes and bike parts, books, cell phones, printer cartridges and yoga mats from materials collected at the facility. Through the CHaRM, Eco-Cycle also collects 56,000 pounds of textiles and shoes annually, which are sent to African communities for reuse or made into “wiper” rags locally. Every year, Eco-Cycle receives thousands of used books through the CHaRM, many of which are reusable. On average, Eco-Cycle sorts and distributes approximately 17,000 used children’s books to at-risk, low income and underserved children through 11 preschools and 17 nonprofit organizations throughout Boulder County and other communities. One of Eco-Cycle’s largest and longest standing outreach efforts is its environmental education program servicing both Boulder and Broomfield Counties since 1987.

The program integrates environmental education with established school curriculum, ensuring that students in Boulder and Broomfield Counties learn about their environment and what they can do to care for it. The program provides for the collection of recyclables from all 54,000 students and staff in 82 Boulder Valley and St. Vrain Valley public schools. Annually, Eco-Cycle educators give more than 1,500 environmental education presentations on a wide variety of environmental topics to more than 47,000 K-12 students.

Eco-Cycle created a first-in-the-nation Zero Waste Schools program, Green Star Schools, which addresses every aspect of their waste stream, making Zero Waste principles like composting, recycling and waste reduction an integral part of their daily routine, helping them divert. In 2012, the program expanded to include five additional schools and impacted more than 11,000 students, ages 3-14, and more than 1,600 school staff in 29 Boulder County public schools. Green Star Schools reduce their trash by one-third by composting non-recyclable paper and food scraps from their kitchens, cafeterias and classrooms. These schools divert another one-third of their waste from the landfill through recycling and other waste reduction projects, such as Composting with Worms workshops, a Holiday Recycling Guide, Zero Waste school events and a reusable water bottle project.

Back to top

Outstanding Outreach - Educational Institution

Silver Creek Elementary

Silver Creek Elementary in Thornton has been an exemplary leader in recycling & waste reduction in the Adams 12 School District. They've transformed from a school where parent volunteers drive recyclables to a sorting facility in their own cars to a school where an average of 3,000 lbs. of food waste is composted monthly. They've also helped to transform the district as a whole, which now provides free, single-stream recycling services to every school through Republic Services.

As early as 2008, dedicated teachers started small recycling programs in their classrooms at Silver Creek as a way to model sustainable behavior and involve students in the process. The teachers were supported by a parent recycling committee comprised of 10 to 12 members who volunteered to assist in collecting and transporting recyclable materials to a recycling location. At that time the only recycling container available at the school was for corrugated cardboard from the kitchen deliveries.

In 2009, the student Green Team was able to launch an official recycling program when Haulaway provided an on-site recycling container. The Green Team serves as a wonderful way to allow students to problem solve issues and develop leadership. In addition to commonly recycled items such as cans, bottles, paper, & cardboard, the Green Team students also collected chip bags, glue sticks, and Capri Suns to recycle with Terracycle and collected vegan food waste for worm bin composting systems. Over the course of the year, 100 students, representing 13% of the student body, participated in various sessions of the Green Team. Students were also trained to be Energy Ambassadors, responsible for helping to turn off unused electrical items like lights and computers at the end of the day.

In 2010, with $700 in support from the school's PTO and a $1,000 grant from Green Up Our Schools, Silver Creek became the first school in Adams 12 School District to begin commercial composting. Two teachers, Courtney Howard and Cynthia Barnes, spent many hours researching hauling options and funding sources to make it possible. This process wasn't easy. Even after lengthy discussions with the principal and other faculty members, the school's facility manager was apprehensive of the new system. He was concerned that the new bins would cause more work for his staff, attract pests, and create odors. Howard and Barnes convinced him to give it a try. Once the system was in place, the facility manager immediately saw its benefits. Trash cans that were once frantically emptied during lunch periods to keep them from overflowing, were now replaced by a system of three bins in a row (trash, recycling, and compost), with the trash needing to be tended to much less frequently.

The facility manager spread the word throughout the school district, and was rewarded with a visit from district officials who lauded him for having one of the best lunchrooms in the entire area. Now anywhere from 1,000 to 6,000 lbs. of food and paper waste is composted each month at Silver Creek and hauled away to a commercial composting facility operated by A-1 Organics. Alpine Waste & Recycling provides as many 96-gallon bins as the school requires, each lined with compostable BioBags and emptied once a week.

Silver Creek learned that composting is a continual process, with a need for constant re-education and monitoring of the system. Student Green Team members wear green vests and stand at the lunch bins on a regular basis at the start of each semester, reminding their fellow students what goes where. Posters hang above each bin with actual items glued on, showing students (especially those too young to read) where everything should go. After the long summer holiday, an assembly is given at the beginning of every year to remind students about the importance of composting.

The Green Team continues to meet on a regular basis, constantly monitoring the success of the existing recycling and composting programs and always looking for new ways to improve. Recently, for example, they purchased 3-gallon buckets to serve as countertop compost bins for capturing the daily paper towel waste produced in each classroom. Now, 750 students are exposed to both recycling and composting on a daily basis, an experience they bring home to help increase the awareness of their parents and the community as a whole.

Thanks to the efforts of Howard and Barnes, other schools have been able to follow in their footsteps, including the STEM Magnet Lab K-8 school in Thornton, hopefully with many others to follow.

Back to top

Outstanding Business Recycling/Diversion Program

Bestway Recycling

Bestway Disposal is a family owned and operated, local disposal company that has been pivotal in increasing waste diversion in the Pikes Peak Region. In the past five years, Bestway has worked diligently to increase innovation with their vehicle technologies, implement strategies to expand their business model, and provide extensive outreach and education to not only their customers but also to many community members that desire to know more about how to reduce their waste.

Since 2008, Bestway has realized a tremendous increase in their residential curbside, single-stream collection; initiated a commercial organics collection route; and developed the only material recovery facility (MRF) in southern Colorado. Currently, approximately 40% of Bestway’s residential customers pay for curbside recycling collection. This is an amazing success story in a community where no regulation exists to demand recycling. Bestway’s commercial organics service is the only one that is publicly offered to businesses in the community. Since inception of this program in 2011, thousands of tons of organic material have been diverted from local landfills.

Bestway’s MRF (privately funded with no government dollars) separates more than 60 tons daily of single-stream recyclables. When it opened in June 2011, it was processing only 35 tons per day. In addition to an increase in the company’s own collection, most other haulers in Colorado Springs (along with Teller County, Monument, Pueblo, Salida and other communities) are taking advantage of the opportunity to reduce the hauling distance of recyclables that were previously transported to Denver or Boulder.

Bestway wants the community to take pride in the MRF and wants to educate the public on the recycling process. From media relations to community open houses and newsletters, from educational programs to tours and the ultimate launch of Colorado’s first recycling superhero, MRF Man, Bestway's outreach efforts invite the community to experience Southern Colorado’s one and only MRF.

After only eight months in operation, the MRF is already making huge strides in diverting materials for sustainability purposes. The MRF has processed over 6,000 tons of inbound material – equating to over 12,000,000 pounds of material being diverted from local landfills and instead processed by the MRF for sale and reuse. The MRF has processed a total of over 5,500 tons of outbound materials for sale to a variety of brokers, who in turn sell the commodities to mills for further processing.

In a community where government mandates are not well accepted, strategies to encourage recycling participation must include cost-effectiveness. Bestway's competitive price structure offers multiple levels of service. This allows customers who have become accustomed to paying a certain monthly fee to possibly keep that same total financial outlay through a reduction in their trash service by adding recycling service. Bestway assumed the risk of ‘single stream recycling’ and invested several million dollars to build the facility, understanding the Colorado Springs market and the consumer’s attitude to recycling. They are a valuable asset to the Colorado Springs business community and to recycling in Colorado.

Back to top

Outstanding Government or Nonprofit Recycling/Diversion Program

Commodes to Roads: Partnering for Porcelain Recycling
in El Paso County

The need for porcelain recycling is driven by multiple factors. In this water-scarce state, water conservation is often achieved through the adoption of new technology: replacing old with new. Colorado Springs Utilities facilitates this process indoors by providing a rebate to incentivize replacement of old, wasteful toilets and urinals with new, efficient toilet technology. Participation rates are over nearly 4,000 per year, resulting in large amounts of waste porcelain, most of which has historically gone to the landfill, or perhaps become tacky backyard planters. Additional waste porcelain is generated through improved toilet prices and performance and renovations by home and business owners, which all ultimately helps the community in El Paso County to conserve water.

Historically, the disposal of old porcelain has been costly, burdensome, dangerous, and added to the complexity of conservation retrofits. Recognizing its role in generating this waste volume through rebates, in 2011 Colorado Springs Utilities (CSU) initiated a pilot system of porcelain collection and recycling for the residential and commercial sectors, all by using existing recycling teams and tools.

Colorado Springs Utilities and the City of Colorado Springs operate an aggregate recycling facility that reuses dirt, asphalt, concrete, and wood from City and Utility projects. Research indicated that porcelain can be processed using the same vehicles, machines, and storage options. Crushed porcelain has performance properties of hard aggregate, and can be used in place of raw materials in road base for new and re-construction.

Commercial plumber Olson Plumbing agreed to host a CSU dumpster at its downtown facility to serve the commercial plumbing service market drop-off location. Their willingness to host collection expanded upon their existing metal recycling effort and reduced the cost and complexity of customers’ projects by providing a single source of disposal and reuse in a secure, business friendly format. El Paso County agreed to host a CSU dumpster at its existing Household Hazardous Waste Facility, where it already collects other recyclable items, for the residential market. The county's participation serves a critical need by offering a secured, staffed location already recognized for accepting recyclable items. Combining these two waste streams, commercial and residential, allows for sufficient volume to cover the market and support the effort. Colorado Springs Utilities also offers a roving dumpster for placement on-site, facilitating replacement and recycling and reducing customer expense.

With a collection system in place, Pikes Peak Rural Transportation Authority (PPRTA) agreed to receive the crushed porcelain and reuse it as a base class 6 aggregate for paving projects. Colorado Springs Utilities and PPRTA pay the cost for conducting product hardness tests, leachate tests for heavy metals in stormwater runoff, and storage analysis needs. The recycling site consulted with the State of Colorado and incorporated annual reporting measures for collection and processing. Colorado Springs Utilities procured three dumpsters to support this effort.

What are the benefits?

The success of the pilot program led to a formal launch of the program in April 2012. The private sector has greatly appreciated a simplified avenue for porcelain disposal, which improves everyone’s business operations. The residential sector has quickly caught on to recycling old toilets. El Paso County reports excellent usage of the dumpster, and Olson Plumbing has had multiple at-capacity bins dumped. We anticipated over 3,000 toilets rebated and recycled in 2012, and achieved that number, resulting in 75 tons of waste diverted. And, we expect this number to only increase. The roving dumpster has been in high demand since inception. Large-scale retrofits find this system simple and valuable to use. PPRTA, which has a history of successful experimentation with recycled contents in its paving projects, will use all the material that is available. Similar projects are in operation in Fort Collins, Greeley, and by Eco-Cycle for Boulder and Longmont. Military installations Fort Carson and Peterson Air Force Base are also retaining their replaced toilets during renovations for recycling.

The US Green Building Council’s LEED building criteria include local and recycled content product categories to attain credits in new construction. This recycled aggregate product satisfies those demands, providing an additional outlet for recycled porcelain. LEED is used locally by public and private entities.

Patience and continuous communication are necessary to coordinate multiple parties in projects that have no direct funding support. Each group must see the benefits, define and arrange their role, and commit. Careful research and assurance of safety and permitting are necessary to get buy-in from all required parties.

This project is seen as a positive metaphor of public-private collaboration that solves multiple problems and provides multiple benefits--an excellent example of sustainability supporting all aspects of the community. It’s duplicable by other communities and provides direct value. All of the players are happy to participate and feel it provides value to their mission and organization. We are thankful for its progress and success and look forward to results from 2013.

Back to top

Outstanding Elected Official

State Representative Dan Pabon

Representative Dan Pabon serves as Assistant Majority leader for the 69th General Assembly. He sits on the Finance, Appropriations, and Legislative Council Committees. He also chairs the Joint Select Committee on the Implementation of Amendment 64.

Representative Pabon grew up in the same community he now represents, North and West Denver. He attended Holy Family from preschool through high school, and earned his Bachelor of Science in Mechanical Engineering from the University of Colorado. While there, Pabon's peers elected him Student Body President (Tri-Executive). In that role, he created a university-wide resource center for struggling and at-risk students trying to balance university life. As his capstone project, Representative Pabon joined efforts with the National Renewable Energy Laboratory to find an more efficient way to heat and cool automobiles.

After graduation, Representative Pabon worked on cutting-edge diabetes, cancer, and aids cure research with a bioscience software company. After his involvement in dozens of biologic studies, Dan narrowed his professional focus and enrolled at the University of Colorado School of Law. As a law student, he earned several scholarships and worked for the Legal Aid and Defender Program, helping the poor and disabled obtain Social Security benefits and navigate family law. Pabon also served as Class President. He helped lead an effort to build a new law school using an innovative funding method. This method has now been adopted by universities and colleges all around the state.

After earning his law degree, Pabon worked as an attorney for five years at a Denver-based law firm, where he focused his practice on real estate and green building development. He became a member of the U.S. Green Building Council and a strong advocate for green technologies and investing in Colorado's new energy economy.

As a state legislator, Representative Pabon has focused on several significant recycling efforts. In 2011, Pabon co-sponsored HB-1244, also known as the Colorado Electronics Recycling Act. This bill would have required electronics manufacturers to certify their recycling methods and require their reporting, while simultaneously banning the recycling of certain electronics in landfills.

In addition, Rep. Pabon sponsored HB-1247, also known as the “Bottle Bill,” which would have created recycling centers for common glass and plastic bottles. The bill sought to create a bottle deposit program, much like that which exists in many other states, and foster incentives for recycling. The bill attempted to incentivize both the consumer and the producer to engage in thoughtful recycling practices.

Representative Pabon’s efforts to promote recycling and renewable energy are tied to his desire for job creation and economic growth. He continues to sponsor or cosponsor bills that more tightly regulate diesel emissions standards, incentivize the purchase of hybrid and alternative fuel vehicles, and continue to put Colorado on the national map for its renewable energy production. Recently, Representative Pabon supported SB13-050 also known as the “Recycling Resources Economic Opportunity Act.” This bill will increase recycling in the state and fund research and development in recycling.

Representative Pabon believes these efforts will save Colorado’s environment and maintain it for several generations of Coloradans to come.

Back to top

Outstanding Media Coverage

Aldo Svaldi, Denver Post

Aldo Svaldi has been the business reporter with the Denver Post since late 2000. He has written over a thousand articles on business, finance and real estate during that time. In 2012, he researched and wrote two articles about recycling in Colorado. Why is that unique? It is unique because the articles were not in conjunction with Earth Day, or America Recycles Day, nor were they about Christmas tree recycling or an electronics collection event. No, they were about the business of recycling.

How often do we see an article extolling the impact of the scrap market on Colorado’s economy? In “Colorado’s Trash, China’s Treasure,” which was printed in the Post on August 23, Svaldi points out that waste and scrap were the largest export to China from Colorado in 2011. He mentions that one scrap recycling yard he visited employs 110 people and indirectly supports many more. He interviewed the Institute for Scrap Recycling Industries and noted the environmental benefits of recycling in terms of energy saved and conserved resources.

In his second article, “Closure of Arizona paper mill leaves Colorado recyclers scrambling,” printed in the Post on September 30, Svaldi points out the various issues that led to the closure of that mill and the options local recyclers have. He covered contamination, transportation, saturated markets and the distance travelled to get to those markets, not items you see every day in the newspaper, but ones critical to the recycling industry and important for our customers to understand.

Svaldi carefully constructed the framework of why the mill closed: single-stream recycling leading to higher levels of contamination from plastic, aluminum, and shopping bags. This led to equipment failures and higher maintenance costs and difficulties in the export market with some Chinese buyers being jailed for taking these highly contaminated loads. He dug deeply into the workings of the industry and brought this information to the general public in the form of front page news.

The articles raised a number of questions for readers: What other markets might be in jeopardy? Is the recycling industry really contributing that much to the economy? Is contamination that big of an issue for recyclers? The articles engaged readers in a topic that was much more complex than they ever considered. Additionally, the data regarding the economic impact of recycling on the state garnered great interest from legislators and other elected officials, who finally heard it from a source other than the Colorado Association for Recycling.

Back to top

Mereth Meade Volunteer of the Year

Bill Burch and Tina Miani

Bill Burch and Tina Miani have worked as volunteers for Recycle-Creede for the past five years, and they've seemed like full-time employees during the last three years, except that Recycle-Creede can’t pay them (yet). Their help and consistency has been invaluable to the organization. From sorting materials to loading trailers and driving loads, they do it all.

Recycle-Creede's diversion rate has gone up steadily since its inception and the organization is now serving the neighboring communities of Crestone, Del Norte, and South Fork, as well as San Luis Valley music festivals, local farmers markets, Orient Land Trust, and the 9News Health Fair in both Creede and Monte Vista, and, last June, the Disney filming production of “The Lone Ranger.” Burch worked on the recycling project for the movie production the whole time it was in Creede.

Burch and Miani regularly work at the Recycle-Creede warehouse. They sort, they clean up the receiving area, they bale, they talk to the public, they keep up machinery, they coerce new volunteers - they are there all the time, making sure that everything runs smoothly. Burch and Miani also make art out of recyclable products and have each donated artwork to the CAFR's annual Summit Silent Auction.

In the last year, Recycle-Creede has processed more than 110 tons of materials. It's likely that Burch and/or Miani touched almost every ounce of it. In such a rural community, where less than the half the current population recycles, it is amazing to see volunteers with this kind of dedication and involvement in the project.

Back to top

Lifetime Achievement

Eric Lombardi, Eco-Cycle

Growing up in Denver, Eric Lombardi began his recycling career in the 1960s by taking old computer punch cards from his father’s company to Friedman and Sons Paper Recycling. He then spent the 1970s organizing fellow students to protest Rocky Flats and support solar energy, being named a “C.U. Pacesetter” in his graduation yearbook. He spent the 1980s working in alternative energy, water conservation and recycling in Boulder and North Carolina.

His Colorado recycling career began in 1989 when he became executive director at Eco-Cycle Inc., a nonprofit recycler in Boulder, founded in 1976. At the time Lombardi started, the organization was in financial crisis. He was able to turn it around by taking advantage of the national growth in recycling, and the organization has grown ever since to become the largest community-based recycling organization in the United States.

In 1990, Lombardi participated in the Colorado Governors’ Task Force on Waste. Although the recommendations he helped craft were never implemented, these same ideas became the foundation of the resource conservation efforts he would implement in Boulder County. Lombardi was elected to the National Recycling Coalition (NRC) Board of Directors and served as an Executive Board member from 1993-95. At that time it became clear that Colorado needed a “state recycling organization,” and he worked with a small group to create the first Colorado Association for Recycling (CAFR) Board with an executive director. Over the years he has served on numerous state committees and consulted with communities all around Colorado.

Under Lombardi’s leadership, Eco-Cycle has pioneered many new programs and systems for recycling, education and materials marketing that have been of great benefit to all recyclers in Colorado and across the nation. Lombardi spearheaded many firsts in the state including the creation of the first 2-stream collection/processing systems, the first business composting collection system, the first Zero Waste Schools in the country (a.k.a. Eco-Cycle Green Star Schools), the first Zero Waste Events (started by Eco-Cycle in Longmont in 1997), the first Center for Hard to Recycle Materials (CHaRM) in the nation, and the first optical sorting of glass to support the needs of Rocky Mountain Recycling in Golden. The successes of Eco-Cycle were highlighted when Lombardi was invited to the Clinton White House in 1998 as one of the Top 100 USA Recyclers to advise on national recycling issues.

Lombardi used his experience creating the first curbside recycling program and building the first Materials Recovery Facility (MRF) in North Carolina to design and build recycling centers across Boulder County and to help design Boulder’s state of the art MRF, “the nicest MRF in the world” according to George Weyerhaeuser, the V.P. of paper recycling for the global 100 corporation of the same name. The Boulder County MRF now processes on average 50,000 tons of diverse recycled materials per year. By recycling at the MRF instead of landfilling these materials, Eco-Cycle has created 69 local jobs and each year has helped the Boulder County community avoid 523 tons of air pollution, 2.1 tons of water pollution, 138 tons of toxic herbicides, and 64,100 tons of toxic substances that threaten human health such as carcinogens, particulate matter and volatile organic compounds.

Lombardi and his team at Eco-Cycle have taken Boulder County and pushed the world beyond recycling toward a society of Zero Waste. As a primary founder and national spokesperson of the Zero Waste Movement, he coined the phrase “Zero Waste--Or Darn Near.” The county and cities of Boulder and Longmont have adopted Zero Waste plans in part due to the leadership of Lombardi and Eco-Cycle. Lombardi’s 10-year plan for communities to shift to Zero Waste has been the model for these communities and communities around the globe. His plan focuses on three basic ideas: (1) maximize downstream resource recovery through recycling and composting; (2) maximize mid-stream longevity through reuse, repair and durable design; (3) maximize upstream waste reduction through re-design, zero-waste purchasing, producer responsibility and implementing regulatory changes. Eco-Cycle has led the change in Boulder County by implementing these principles.

Lombardi and the staff of Eco-Cycle tackled the challenge of recycling non-traditional recyclables in 2001 with the creation of the Center for Hard-to-Recycle Materials (CHaRM). Today, the facility has been emulated by three other U.S. communities. The CHaRM accepts a wider range of materials than any other facility we know of, from electronics to yoga mats. Each year, Eco-Cycle adds at least one new material to this list. Eco-Cycle ensures that non-traditional recyclables are processed responsibly in the U.S. and that these valuable resources are staying in production. In 2011, 23,169 recyclers visited the CHaRM, and the facility processed 900,000 pounds of electronics, 42 trailers full of block foam, 6.35 million plastic bags, 81,800 pounds of porcelain, 8,800 bike tires, 205,000 pounds of paper from books not suitable for reuse, and prevented 3,449 metric tons of carbon dioxide (MTCO2e), the equivalent of conserving 386,659 gallons of gasoline.

Lombardi has been selected to be a keynote speaker and consultant on the social and technical aspects of creating a Zero Waste society across the USA, and in New Zealand, England, France, Romania, American Samoa, Wales and Saipan (Commonwealth of Northern Mariana Islands). He is the co-founder of the Zero Waste International Alliance (ZWIA), President of the GrassRoots Recycling Network (GRRN), and the National NRC Nonprofits Recycling Organization. He has received numerous awards and acknowledgements including the 2001 City of Boulder “Pacesetter Award,” the 2002 National Leadership Award from the Natural Business Association, the 2004 Community Leadership Award from the Wirth Chair-University of Colorado-Denver and was profiled in Newsweek in 2008 for the Earth Day issue on “#1 Way to Save the Planet-Zero Waste.”

Today Lombardi is considered an authoritative voice in Colorado, the nation and the world on how to build a Zero Waste community. He continues to advise local governments and groups in Colorado and share his expertise and vision freely as a leader in community-based sustainable waste management practices.

Back to top