HOW AND WHY RECYCLING HAS CHANGED

Source: Denver Sun

Brent Hildebrand, a vice president at Alpine Waste & Recycling, sets on a table a mangled piece of metal. In a previous life, it was a horseshoe.

“That little piece of metal caused our equipment to be down for a couple of hours. That’s huge for us. We just couldn’t find it, it was so small,” said Hildebrand, whose office is adjacent to the company’s material recovery facility, or MRF (pronounced “murf”). “I know what people are thinking: It’s metal. But no horseshoes.”

Recycling in Colorado is a tedious, cost-prohibitive business that remains largely voluntary for residents.

Costs rose this year when China, the largest buyer of recyclable materials, imposed new restrictions to clean up its own country. China now accepts sorted materials, such as paper or plastic, so long as they are no more than 1 percent contaminated with aluminum cans, plastic bags or, yes, horseshoes. That was a tough, new standard for many U.S. companies, which often collected, sorted and baled cardboard boxes, plastic bottles or paper with contamination rates of at least 10 to 20 percent.

MORE: Coloradans generate 9.6 pounds of trash per person, per day. Where does it all go?

The result?

China is turning away recycled waste from America. Around Colorado, haulers made adjustments: Waste Management in Larimer County is temporarily tossing low-value plastic containers — the ones marked No. 3, 6 or 7, including the clam-shell containers in which fresh strawberries are sold — into the landfill. Grand Junction’s Curbside Recycling indefinitely stopped accepting blister-plastic containers in January. Henderson’s Pro Disposal & Recycling, which serves the Denver suburbs, raised its prices.

But Colorado recyclers say it’s not as terrible as it sounds. Many had already spent years cleaning up their waste. And economic changes are forcing them to find new domestic buyers of recyclables. This is, after all, a business — and recyclers have adjusted to the new future.

“There never used to be a fee for recycling” in the Roaring Fork Valley, said Mike Hinkley, district manager with Mountain Waste & Recycling in Carbondale, where customers near its headquarters saw what used to be free recycling services switch to a fee of $5.

“When we set trash up at a resident’s home, the baseline fee includes trash and recycling,” Hinkley said. “But we can’t keep up with (rising costs), so we instituted a fee for recycling. We’ve had a handful of people drop out, but some people have come back because they know it’s the right thing to do.”

Colorado households have been recycling tons more trash over the past decade. But as population has grown, so has the amount of waste sent to state landfills. Because of that, the overall rate of waste diverted from landfills to recycling or composting has declined, casting an unexpected light on the environment-friendly reputations of Denver and the rest of the state.

A few years ago, Denver was shamed for this shocking statistic: a recycling rate of 18 percent, which was half that of similar cities and even lower than Salt Lake City’s, at 38 percent, and much lower than that of Fresno, Calif., at 71 percent.

Colorado officials took notice, and in August 2017, the state’s Solid & Hazardous Waste Commission passed a resolution to get the state to a 45 percent diversion, or recycling, rate by 2036, with a 51 percent goal for the Front Range. But it’s just a goal. No penalties are part of the plan.

“We’re low. There’s no bones about it. Colorado is at the bottom of the barrel,” said Laurie Johnson, executive director of the Colorado Association for Recycling, a trade group. “But you don’t know where you are unless you know where you started. And we don’t, in Colorado, have the best (understanding) of what’s happening with the materials because there are no mandates to track it.”

According to the state Department of Public Health and Environment, Colorado’s diversion rate has been declining since peaking at 26.1 percent in 2012. The national average is about 34 percent, according to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency.

State regulators call Colorado’s rate, now at 20.5 percent, misleading because, unlike the EPA rate, it compares the weight of recycled materials to the weight of all landfill waste, an amount that has swelled in recent years and includes construction waste. Just take a look at the actual data:

Further skewing the data is the fact that some cardboard is lighter today than it used to be, and there’s less newspaper recycling, which once made up 70 percent of recycled paper waste, said Wolf Kray, an environmental protection specialist at the state health department. The rate doesn’t tell the real story of how much Colorado households are recycling, so the state is cleaning up that figure.

“We’re probably recycling more than we’re reporting,” Kray said. “We’ll have better data next year.”

Peel away the layers of eco-guilt and there’s an underlying financial motive to clean up Earth. While some corporations have been touting their environmental efforts, they’re simultaneously cutting back their expenses. Starbucks, Marriott International and others are banning plastic straws, which are too small for many MRFs to sort efficiently. That saves Starbucks from buying 1 billion straws a year. Companies such as Amazon are pushing “frustration-free” packaging to cut down on the inane box-within-a-cardboard-box delivery. That eliminated 305 million shipping boxes in 2017, according to Amazon.

And there are U.S. companies paying for our recycled waste. International Paper, based in Memphis, Tenn., has 18 recycling facilities in North America to feed recovered office paper and corrugated boxes to mills making new paper products. Old plastic soda bottles are snapped up by carpet mills in Georgia and made into, well, carpet. Trex uses plastic grocery bags to make its faux-wood patio deck boards.

The MillerCoors-owned Rocky Mountain Bottle Co., based in Colorado, recovered 300 tons of recycled glass, shipped it to Denver and repurposed it in bottles for Coors Light, Miller Light and Blue Moon just during last fall. Also in Colorado, Penrose-based Applegate Insulation said it can’t get enough old newspaper, which the company turns into spray-on insulation, paper shavings for pet bedding, mulch, and products that safely absorb industrial spills and liquid waste.

Ball Corp., in Broomfield, buys used aluminum, a lucrative business. The metal can be reused infinitely in products such as cans for Longmont’s Oskar Blues beer.

“Metal cans are the most valuable packaging container in the recycling stream, so they often subsidize the recovery of other packages with little or no value,” said Renee Robinson, Ball’s director of corporate communications. “Our goal is to make the can the most sustainable package in the packaging-supply chain, so we have been doing a ton of work in this area, along with our customers and partners, and will continue to do so.”

Much of the waste that consumers believe is recyclable probably is. And recyclers are slowly expanding what they’ll accept. Alpine’s investment in technology — such as Clarke, the milk-carton-sorting robotic arm built by AMP Robotics in Boulder — has helped Alpine run more efficiently and recycle items consumers were once trained to toss, from Styrofoam and milk-carton caps to, coming soon, the controversial, plastic-lined Starbucks coffee cups. (Consumer tip on the carton caps: Keep them attached to the containers.)

China’s restrictions have motivated the industry to find domestic buyers.

“Everybody hit the panic button because starting in the middle of last year, China began slowing down and taking less and less, and now it’s nothing. And people are saying, ‘Oh, my gosh, it’s not going to China. Is it going to a landfill?’ If it was, I would not have a job. My job is to find homes for these things,” said Clint Cordonnier, logistics manager for Bestway Disposal, which picks up trash and recycling for much of Colorado Springs. “I’ve spent a great deal of time and energy developing relationships. There is not one bit of material that comes to this facility that goes to China.”

It’s a business, Cordonnier said. And yes, he added, “it is profitable. There are times that it’s more on the break even, but nobody is losing money on it.”

Roots Recycling, a curbside recycling service in the Pueblo area, picks up trash and recycling every other week, which costs less than running trash trucks weekly. Also, it costs customers about $27 a month, less than getting trash-only service weekly.

MORE: A nonprofit recycling company in tiny Swink is defying expectations for rural Colorado recycling.

In California, regulatory fees on aluminum cans and TVs/monitors tack on an additional fee at the time of purchase to help fund recycling efforts later. Government mandates, however, are rare in Colorado.

In Aspen, a city ordinance requires all residential trash companies to also pick up recyclables — and no discounts if a resident doesn’t want recycling. Even Boulder, which mandates all trash haulers offer recycling, doesn’t force people to participate.

Still, recycling continues to be worthwhile for local trash haulers because it’s often subsidized by regular trash customers, whether they recycle or not, said Rick DePaiva, district manager of Pro Disposal & Recycling.

For the first time, Pro Disposal added a $2 monthly recycling fee to customers. It sent out a flier to customers explaining what was happening in China and how costs had increased. The service had previously been part of regular trash pickup. Pro Disposal told customers that if they didn’t want to pay it, they could suspend recycling service and their monthly rate would be lowered by $6.

“Surprisingly, we didn’t have a lot of pushback,” said DePaiva, adding that the overall cost is probably closer to $8 or $9 a month. “We never built in a (recycling) processing fee before. The thought process is that, hopefully, this will be temporary. The thought was China was going to clamp down and then ease up. The financial impact to us was over $25,000 to $30,000. So if you figure that I’m picking up over 10,000 customers, it’s $2 a month per customer.”

Ultimately, he said, “We feel it’s important that people understand the cost associated with it (recycling), and there must be a willingness to support it.”

 

Denver is ‘the most challenging’ city in U.S. for first-time homebuyers

Denver is “the most challenging” city in the country for first-time homebuyers, according to a new report.

Mortgage company LendingTree ranked Denver toughest out of 100 cities nationally for first-time homebuyers, ahead of the next toughest cities, which included New York, San Francisco, Austin and Las Vegas.

LendingTree said it used the following criteria to come up with its rankings, including average down payment amount needed; the share of buyers using an FHA mortgage; average down payment percentage; percentage of buyers who have less than prime credit (below 680); the share of homes sold that the median income family can afford (Housing Opportunity Index); and average FHA down payment as a percentage of average down payment for all loans.

“Denver is not the most challenging city in any single measure, having weak showings across the board, which could be (an) obstacle for first-time buyers. Down payments are high at $66,806, and even the FHA down payment is a considerable $22,841,” LendingTree said in its report, which ranked Little Rock, Arkansas as the best U.S. city for first-time homebuyers.

Yesterday, it was reported that Denver ranked No. 1 nationally (tied with Seattle and San Francisco) for fewest months supply of inventory at 1.1 months. And earlier this month, the Denver Metro Association of Realtors’ latest market trends report indicated January started off the year with a record-low inventory of home for sale in metro Denver — 3,869 listings.

 

 

 

A California GPS technology company said it’s planning on building a big addition to its existing Westminster facility.

Trimble Inc. said it’s planning on building a second building in Westminster that can house up to 1,100 new workers and be its largest employment facility.
A California GPS technology company said it’s planning on building a big addition to its existing Westminster facility.
Trimble Inc. (Nasdaq: TRMB), which is based in Sunnyvale, Calif., said it’s planning on building a second building in Westminster that can house up to 1,100 new workers and be its largest employment facility.
The new addition will be located next to Trimble’s current 125,000-square-foot facility at 10368 Westmoor Drive, which was completed four years ago. The new building will be “nearly the twin” of the company’s existing building, the company said.
“T he Westminster campus is at full capacity and beyond. After just four years of growth, the location has proven to be a key asset to the company due to its central location and its emphasis on collaborative workspaces,” the company said.
Company officials praised Colorado employees and the area’s quality of life.
“Colorado has proven to be a strategic element in our U.S. operations since we opened our initial Westminster office in 2000 and completed the first building project in 2013. The area attracts a desirable and growing pool of tech talent and provides an attractive quality of life to our employees,” said Steven Berglund, Trimble president and CEO, in a statement.
The general contractor on the project is JE Dunn, Denver-based OZ Architecture is the lead engineering firm, and the building’s expected to be completed in late 2018.

Ben Miller
Contributing Writer

Denver Business Jurnal

Hiring software engineers to work in Denver

Since Sept. 12, Apple the Cupertino, California-based tech giant has posted three software engineering jobs openings for a location in Denver.
The openings come after spring rumors Apple could lease significant space in downtown for a technology development office.
A job posting Monday tells prospective applicants in mapping data engineering that the position “is to join an exceptionally skilled group” working with data science, statistics, geospatial data and deep learning.
“Apple isn’t [the] only location company growing in Denver. Not surprised by this,” tweeted Brian McMahon on Tuesday. McMahon used to run Denver-based MapQuest, the Verizon-owned online mapping company that’s based in downtown.
Apple’s mapping technology hires in Denver would work two blocks from Mapquest.
Apple’s openings in Denver are the latest by some of the biggest tech employers to hire here.
Amazon Inc. held a job fair a year ago to hire people for a software engineering office it quietly opened in Broomfield. Farther west, Google started construction on a new Boulder campus with room to eventually triple the search giant’s presence there to 1,500 employees.
Redwood City, California-based Oracle has for years had its second-largest concentration of U.S. employees at its Broomfield campus, where about 2,000 people work.
Last week, GPS technology company Trimble Inc., based in Sunnyvale, California, said a new building under construction in Westminster would give it room to double its workforce there to 1,100 and make it the largest employment center the 9,000-employee company has worldwide.

By Greg Avery – Reporter, Denver Business Journal

Robotics industry growth to be gigantic in next five years

Jul 5, 2017, 7:15am MDT

Industries & Tags

Manufacturing

Growth in the global robotics market is expected to be massive in the next five years, according to Boulder market intelligence firm.

Revenue from sales of industrial and non-industrial robots is expected to rise from $31 billion in 2016 to $237.3 billion by 2022, according to Tractica research.

Most of the growth will come from the massive increase in sales of consumer robots, enterprise robots, autonomous vehicles, and unmanned aerial vehicles (drones), which will overtake traditional industrial robots, according to Tractica.

“The key underlying story emerging in the industry is that industrial robotics, which has been the traditional pillar of the robotics market, has given way to non-industrial robot categories like personal assistant robots, UAVs, and autonomous vehicles,” said Aditya Kaul,Tractica research director, in a statement.

Locally, that growth in robots is evident with last month’s announcement that Misty Robotics was spun off from Sphero, the Boulder-based maker of the smartphone-controlled BB-8 robot, and has launched with an initial backing of $11.5 million.

And Amazon.com said it will staff its new Thornton fulfillment center with a fleet of robots, as well as human workers

 

Out of top 25 US cities for tech, where does Denver rank?

Ben Miller Contributing Writer

Out of the top 25 U.S. cities for technologies, Denver ranks in the top 10.

According to a new report by real estate services firm Cushman & Wakefield, Denver ranks eighth nationally when it comes “talent, capital and growth opportunity.” The company called the ingredients a “tech stew,” involving “local universities, capital, tech workers, knowledge workers, educated workers, and entrepreneurial spirit.”

According to Cushman & Wakefield’s “Tech Cities 1.0” report, San Jose-Silicon Valley is rated No. 1, followed by San Francisco, Washington, D.C., Boston, Raleigh/Durham/Chapel Hill, North Carolina, Seattle and Austin, Texas.

While Denver is not the headquarters location for many big technology companies, we’ve continued to see larger, more established firms opening offices in Denver, including Google, Apple, and Amazon,” said Steve Billigimeier, executive managing director, Cushman & Wakefield in Denver, in a statement. He added “in addition to Colorado’s impressive list of colleges and universities, Denver continues to draw employees from across the country and finished first in Forbes’ 2015 and 2016 ‘Best Places for Business’ list.”

Last month, Colorado was ranked in the top tier of most innovative U.S. states in rankings compiled by the Consumer Technology Association.

And in October, Colorado was ranked second among U.S. states in turning technology and science capabilities into high-paying jobs.

Making Denver a friendly place for cyclists is a big issue for city leaders.

Kathleen Lavine | Denver Business Journal

At a city council meeting last March, Denver Council President Albus Brooks said that decreasing reliance on cars is “the area that most of us on City Council agree on — that this is the direction that we want to go.”

Some argue that putting so much effort into this is bad news for cars and will only increase congestion further. Others advocate for it as being a way to provide routes for all modes of transportation and promote exercise and better air quality. For now, it appears city officials are making progress on bikes. A pair of recent reports named the Mile High City among the best in the nation for being bike-friendly.

RewardExpert, an online travel service company, said Denver was the 10th most bike-friendly city for tourists.

The report ranked the U.S.’s 53 largest cities based on 13 metrics, such as biking infrastructure, city profile, bike-sharing availability and biking safety.

“Denver is historically a very bike-friendly city. It scored well across all our dimensions. The city has 267 miles of paved biking paths, which ranks third of all the cities we analyzed,” RewardExpert’s report said.

“Denver’s B-cycle has many stations and bikes in its fleet. Denver ranked fourth in regard to number of bike share stations per capita. Travelers should have no problem biking through the city.”

And late last month, WalkScore.com ranked Denver as the 4th most bike-friendly in the U.S.. Denver received a bike-score of 71, calculated by measuring bike infrastructure (lanes, trails, etc.), hills, destinations and road connectivity, and the number of bike commuters.

Denver also receives relatively high marks for its walkability, a long-time focus of state leaders. In the WalkScore report, it ranked 16th overall, and a recent Thrillist ranking put it 10th in the nation.

Adding to both Denver’s walkability and bicycle-friendliness is something Denver Parks and Recreation is tackling, too. The city will begin improvements to the Washington Park Loop Road with the of goal of making it safer for visitors.

The 2.2-mile road follows the perimeter of the park and is popular for cycling, walking, rollerblading and jogging. Modifications will include a new configuration aimed at addressing major congestion points along the loop

They include:

Lane configuration improvements comprised of a two-way pedestrian lane separated by a two-foot painted buffer from two unidirectional lanes that accommodate wheel-based recreation

Crosswalk and car traffic zone improvements with hatched buffers, flexible bollards, green dashed pavement markings, shared lane markings, pavement markings, and painted crosswalks.

Signage improvements and the addition of new lane configuration signs, speed limit signs and vehicular regulatory traffic signs. These signs will be installed in strategic areas throughout the park to ensure maximum opportunity for education and awareness of the rules and regulation along Loop Road and throughout Washington Park.

Construction on the Washington Park loop improvement project will begin June 19 and is slated for completion by the end of July.

 

Beyond spaghetti and meatballs: 11 must-visit Italian restaurants in Denver

There’s nothing quite like a plate of good old-fashioned spaghetti and meatballs, but these restaurants? They take that classic dish to the next level.

Zagat — a unit of Google parent Alphabet Inc. (Nasdaq: GOOG) — put together a list of 11 must-visit Italian restaurants in Denver, consisting mostly of spots that have just popped up in the last few years.

Spuntino. 2639 W. 32nd Ave. “All the warmth of a mom-and-pop trattoria, all the savvy of… more

From polenta-stuffed agnolotti dal plin with ‘nduja and shrimp, and pappardelle, to pizzas topped creamed leeks and fennel pollen, to bucatini all’Amatriciana, pollo alla diavola, tartufo, and much more.

Caitlin Hendee is digital producer and social engagement manager for the Denver Business Journal and covers education. Email: chendee@bizjournals.com. Phone

 

Sushi bowl spot doubles down in Glendale

Kailyn Lamb May 18, 2017

PokeCity’s second location will open soon in Glendale off of South Colorado Boulevard.

Jay Yoon is poking around new retail locations all over Denver as he expands his sushi bowl chain. Yoon opened the first PokeCity restaurant in October in the Denver Tech Center.

The restaurant offers Hawaiian-style bowls, filled with raw fish and rice with vegetables and sauce.

By January, he decided to expand, picking up a larger location in Glendale on South Colorado Boulevard and East Mississippi Avenue. He said that spot should open this month and is 2,000 square feet, which Yoon said will allow him to add more dining seating space, as well as take-out and delivery services.

“I’m trying to make the dining area bigger,” Yoon said. “Poke places in California are very small.”

Yoon is hoping the traffic on Colorado Boulevard will help to keep the restaurant busy. A third location at South Broadway and Englewood Parkway is also in the works. Yoon, who has been working with David Hicks and Lampert to find new spaces, said he wants to also add locations on the 16th Street Mall and in Westminster. But hiring staff has been a challenge, despite a social media push on Facebook and offering signing bonuses for employees who work with the restaurant for six months, Yoon said.

He’s up against a booming poke land grab by competing chains. Chicago-based Aloha Poke Co. announced this week that it’s coming to RiNo.

The first PokeCity restaurant opened in October in the Denver Tech Center.

Platte Street will get two new poke restaurants. Poke House will open on Platte and 17th Street this summer and Denver Poke Co. will open across the street at 1550 Plate St.

Yoon’s Broadway location won’t be open until June of next year, giving him time to find people. One way that he copes with hiring woes has been to bring in friends from California to help with management at PokeCity. His family members also work at the restaurant. Other locations will have to wait until he can find staff.“I know how to set up businesses easily and fast,” he said. “I think there’s a lot of opportunity in Denver, she’s growing.”

Yoon first moved to Colorado from Korea more than 25 years ago. He spent 10 years in Denver before moving to California. There, he spent more than 15 years working in the restaurant industry. Once he came back to the Denver, he decided to open a poke restaurant. While poke spots were popular in California, Colorado had yet to catch on, and Yoon saw an opportunity. Now that PokeCity has gotten off the ground, Yoon is hoping to start other restaurants as well. He’s looking into starting a Korean barbecue restaurant as well as another bowl themed restaurant with different