A new recycling service now offered in Denver

Ridwell is meant to supplement the city’s existing recycling program

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Washington Park resident Elizabeth Nicholson does everything she can to reduce the waste she sends to the landfill.

She uses the city’s recycling and composting services, and on average, sends only one standard-sized trash bag of waste to the landfill every two weeks.

But “as best as I try to reduce waste,” Nicholson said, “there’s still bits and bobs that are hard to recycle.”

Then, earlier this spring, Nicholson learned that a new, membership-based recycling program called Ridwell was coming to Denver. She signed up for the service in July, which is when it launched in her neighborhood.

Ridwell’s service is meant to supplement Denver’s existing recycling program, said Ryan Metzger, Ridwell’s founder and CEO, in a news release.

“Denverites are looking for an easy solution to recycling items that are not accepted in the city’s curbside bin service, but shouldn’t go in the garbage,” Metzger said. “We know this service will meet the needs of Denver citizens.”

Nicholson, for one, expects to be able to reduce the already-small amount of waste she sends to the landfill by 30% with Ridwell’s service.

“There are so many things that Ridwell can recycle,” Nicholson added.

Ridwell’s service is biweekly with monthly subscriptions ranging from $12 to $16 per month, depending on the length of commitment, states a news release. With a subscription, Ridwell offers door-to-door pickup of four core categories of household items. The four core categories are plastic film, such as single-use plastic bags and bubble wrap; household batteries; lightbulbs; and threads, such as clothing and shoes.

A fifth featured category is also offered with every pickup. The fifth category is rotated and consists of items that can be reused or recycled in the local community. A couple of examples are towels and linens — gently-used or damaged — and electronics, including cords and chargers. Members receive an email every two weeks that announces the featured category to allow time to gather the items.

Ridwell also offers add-ons to any regularly-scheduled pickup for an additional fee. Add-ons include Styrofoam and fluorescent light tubes, for example.

Members receive a metal Ridwell bin for front porch pickup, and reusable cloth bags for each category to sort items before dropping them into the bin.

“Since curbside recycling programs are constantly shifting, residents recycle things they shouldn’t and end up contaminating the whole bin,” Metzer said in the news release. “We help fill in the missing gaps and make it easy to recycle responsibly with the knowledge that trash is finding a new purpose and staying out of the landfill.”

Ridwell prides itself on working with local partners and nonprofits for recycling, ensuring that reuse items are given a new life. In Denver, current partners are:

SustainAbility — an Arvada-based recycling and composting company that serves the entire metro area and values employing a diverse workforce, including individuals who have intellectual/developmental disabilities.

WeeCycle — a Colorado-based nonprofit that collects and matches essential baby gear to families in need through partner organizations focused on alleviating poverty, homelessness, domestic violence, teen pregnancy and under-employment.

Blue Star Recyclers — an electronic waste recycling organization with four Colorado locations that creates jobs for, and employs, adults with autism and other disabilities who may not otherwise be able to obtain gainful employment.

Ridwell got its start in 2018 by Metzger and his six-year-old son who wanted a way to recycle old batteries. Ridwell now serves Seattle, Tacoma and Portland.

In Denver, Ridwell’s initial launch was in Washington Park, Hilltop, Park Hill, Central Park, University Park, Cherry Creek and the Highlands. Ridwell expects to serve Denver citywide within the immediate near future, and expand to the surrounding suburb cities beginning this fall.

Since its start, Ridwell has helped its members keep more than two million pounds of unnecessary waste out of the landfill, states the news release.

“We’ve all seen the pictures of what our landfills are looking like,” Nicholson said, adding that with Ridwell, “it’s helpful to know that it (waste) is going to something good.”

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