By Conor McCue

DENVER (CBS4) – A company in the Globeville neighborhood in Denver is aiming to reduce waste around the Denver metro area by collecting items not typically accepted by municipal recycling programs. Ridwell, a Seattle-based recycling company, expanded to Denver and its surrounding communities in 2021.

It offers a monthly subscription-based service to pick up hard-to-recycle items from people’s front doorsteps every other week.

(credit: CBS)

While it was trash day in some neighborhoods Wednesday, Rebecca Hayes and her colleagues were on a different kind of route. In each neighborhood, they kept an eye out for white, Ridwell-branded boxes in front of people’s homes, where customers leave bags full of things like plastics, batteries and burned out lightbulbs.

“There’s clothing, plastic bags, light bulbs, and batteries, and then each pickup there’s a featured category,” said Hayes, the GM of Ridwell’s Denver operation.

Since last year, Ridwell employees have picked up these products that typically wind up in a landfill. Once sorted, they’ll take some things to a place where they can be recycled, and the rest will be sent to companies and nonprofits around the state for reuse.

“Each category has a separate partner that’s really the best and most efficient way to do it, and the best way to get the most recycled or reused,” Hayes said.

According to Hayes, the bags, bubble wrap, and food wrappers are sent to a company that uses the plastic to make deck panels. The clothes are often sent to ARC Thrift stores, or to other nonprofits that upcycle them in other ways.

For the company, the mission is to make it easier for people to waste less, especially as many municipal recycling programs are limited in what they can take in.

(credit: CBS)

“We’re definitely filling the gaps between single stream program and what people have in their homes and what is currently going to the landfill, is the only option, for things like plastic bags and things like that,” Hayes said.

For Pamela Walshe, paying for the pick-up service beats driving to multiple recycling facilities around town, which she used to do.

“It just made me feel I knew with confidence I was taking things to the right places,” Walshe said.

Since last year, she’s seen the benefits as a customer and as a recipient.

Recently, Ridwell collected non-perishable food items and donated them to the food bank Walshe helps run.

“Being able to redistribute things to my own nonprofit community is just an incredible experience,” she said. “I love being part of the whole cycle.”

Four of the five categories stay the same every week, but the fifth is a rotating category. Currently, Ridwell is collecting electronics, but in the past the company has picked up CDs, sports gear, and non-perishable foods.

Conor McCue