The Circular Economy Development Center

Innovative, Collaborative End Market Solutions Built for Colorado


Advancing Business Development in Colorado: Innovative Solutions for a Sustainable Circular Economy

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Every year, Americans throw out approximately 300 million tons of products—and just a fraction of those products are revitalized, recycled, and/or reused. That figure likely includes your product(s), along with thousands of others that were thrown out well before the end of their usable lifespan.

So, consider this: you know where your product’s life cycle begins, but where does it end? For many business owners, that’s not an easy question to answer—and that’s why we’re here. 

The Circular Economy Development Center is dedicated to helping Colorado’s businesses transition toward a more sustainable future, achieve the maximum value from their products, and ultimately, reimagine the relationship between our economy and the environment.

A better future for products (and the planet) starts with you. Keep reading to learn more about the CEDC, what we do, and how we’re helping Colorado’s industry move toward a circular economy.

Our Key Objectives

1  Expand three end markets that already exist in Colorado and create three new end markets.

End Market

An end market typically refers to the end user of a product, the individual or organization for whom the product or service has been created, and who is not expected to resell that product or service.

New Market

A new market, by CEDC definition, is a market for a material that does not currently have any existing market in Colorado and minimal (if any) options outside of Colorado. An example would be demolition of post-consumer drywall.

Existing Market

An existing market, by CEDC definition, is a market for a material that has market options but the majority of the material is currently leaving Colorado to get to market.  Example materials would be aluminum, cardboard, and most plastics.

2  Engage with stakeholders state-wide, creating physical and virtual spaces for collaboration and innovation.

Creating sustainable, circular economies requires a holistic approach. We aim to work closely with stakeholders (statewide and regionally) to provide a platform for business collaboration, innovation, and problem-solving.

3  Analyze markets and supply chains, including transportation and manufacturing, to show how materials flow within Colorado and regionally.

Understanding regional markets and supply chains is critical to identifying opportunities for circularity. We will complete a gap analysis that focuses on commodity movement, Colorado’s manufacturing opportunities, local and regional end markets, and business development prospects.


What is a Circular Economy?

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Circular Economy: An industrial system that is restorative or regenerative by design. In other words, a circular business model uses resources efficiently and prioritizes renewable inputs. 

Circular economies maximize a product’s usable lifespan to achieve maximum value. At the end of the product’s life, the product and any by-products in its manufacturing are recovered and reused to make new materials or products. 

In a circular economy, products are no longer designed to have a life cycle with a distinct beginning, middle, and end. 

Designers and business owners play an essential role in choosing materials that are fit for the circular economy. Not all materials are suitable for use in circular products because they contain chemicals that may be polluting or potentially hazardous for humans and/or the environment.

Similarly, recyclers, waste disposal professionals, and many others are vital to the success of a circular economy, particularly when it comes to keeping products out of our landfills. 


What is the Circular Economy Development Center?

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The Circular Economy Development Center is a program of the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment aimed at empowering and facilitating connections between sectors in Colorado and regionally to create circular economy solutions using materials that Coloradans recycle.

In other words, we aim to provide both end market solutions and to foster the round-table discussions that lead us there. We’re not here to “paint with a broad brush.” We engage and work closely with stakeholders to mediate solutions that work for our businesses, communities, and environment alike. 

Ultimately, our goal is to create individual, scalable pathways toward circular economies—and step one is creating beneficial collaboration and innovation between Colorado businesses.

Our mission: We assist companies striving for circularity by helping them advance their business or locate to Colorado.

Interested in Establishing or Expanding Your Own End Market Solution in Colorado?

We’re here to help! Click the link below and fill out a brief questionnaire. Our team will get in touch with you within 3 business days!


Circular Economy and Extended Producer Responsibility

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Extended producer responsibility (EPR) plays a critical role in a circular economy—these concepts are connected. 

Extended Producer Responsibility is defined as…

“An environmental policy approach in which a producer’s responsibility for a product is extended to the post-consumer stage of a product’s life cycle.”

The development of extended producer responsibility (EPR) encourages the development of circular business models by directly involving manufacturers in end-of-life solutions for the products they make. 

Click here to learn more about EPR in the state of Colorado.


Who We Work With & How to Get Involved

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Developing a more sustainable standard of business is a group effort—it takes all of us to create meaningful change. We’re committed to getting as many stakeholders involved as possible. Stakeholders are invited to participate in regional meetings throughout 2024 to create tangible action plans to advance the expansion and creation of end markets in support of circularity goals. 

These meetings will align and organize stakeholders around material projects which are already underway. Alternatively, they will be the jumping-off point for targeting materials/products for circular economy development.

If you represent any of the following sectors, we would love to hear from you! All of these sectors (and more) play a pivotal role in helping create circular economies.

Rural Communities
Federal, State & Local Governments
Higher Education
Economic Development Programs
Funders and Investors

Convening can happen virtually, but the richest interactions are most often in person.  Our vision for the CEDC is to branch out and work with partners and collaborators to create satellite work spaces to foster innovation, workshops, strategic planning, and community connection.

Take Part in Growing Colorado’s Circular Economies

Are you interested in establishing or expanding an end market solution in Colorado? Could your end market solution benefit from the CEDC’s expertise in project management and network building?

If so, CEDC staff would welcome the opportunity to learn more about your project. Click the link below to complete a short questionnaire. Within three business days, CEDC staff will touch base to discuss your project in more detail.

Our Partners

Analysis & Assessment

Stakeholder Facilitation

Website & Branding

R&D Higher Education

Program Marketing

Technical Assist & Partnerships

Thank You Circular Colorado Founding Supporter


Target Markets

The Center will explore public-private partnerships to leverage the strength of both sectors and help provide economies of scale to expand a circular economy.

The goal of the CEDC is to expand three end markets that already exist in Colorado and create three new end markets in Colorado. Watch for more information as the CEDC pursues these goals

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A hand shake

Our Staff

Laurie Johnson


Laurie Johnson is the founder and CEO of Circular Colorado, a nonprofit working on waste diversion and end-market creation in Colorado.  Prior to this, Laurie was the Chief Operating Officer for a local Colorado roll-off hauling company and served as the Executive Director for Recycle Colorado for three years. Outside of Colorado, Laurie served as VP of Client Services for Recyclebank, and she owned a retail product distribution business in Phoenix for eight years. She has served on multiple boards in Colorado including as a founding member of the Front Range Waste Diversion Board, now Colorado Circular Communities.  Laurie holds a B.A. in Urban Affairs and an MBA in Sustainable Business. 

Susan Renaud

Susan Renaud

Director of Special Projects

Susan has more than 20 years of experience in zero waste, circular economy, business sustainability, project management and design. Splitting her time between the public and private sectors, she worked for the City of Denver, City of Boulder and Boulder County in resource conservation roles where she developed circular pilot programs, managed Denver’s green business program and worked with stakeholders to translate sustainability goals to actionable plans. In the private sector, she worked for project management and design-build firms in New York, Arizona and Colorado. Susan holds bachelor’s degrees in Architecture and Spanish, a master’s in Urban and Regional Planning and a certificate in Business.

Eric Heyboer

Administrator and Project Coordinator

Eric started his career packing paints and chemicals into drums at the Boulder County Household Hazardous Waste Facility. He eventually transitioned into a role that helped implement and administer a comprehensive zero waste program for Boulder County offices. For nearly a decade, Eric served as a grants administrator for the Recycling Resources Economic Opportunity grant program at the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment. During his tenure, he served two terms on the Recycle Colorado Board of Directors. After a three year stint as a US Department of Energy contractor, Eric is excited to return to his roots in recycling, waste reduction, and infrastructure development. Eric has a bachelor’s degree in Environmental Studies.

Amy Randell

Administrative Director

Amy has more than 19 years of experience working with the recycling industry.  She worked for Recycle Colorado from 2005 to 2016, beginning as the membership coordinator and eventually serving as the interim executive director.  Amy served on the Assistance Committee to the Pollution Prevention Advisory Board for seven years and still volunteers for Recycle Colorado. She has a bachelor’s degree in ecological restoration from Colorado State University.

Alicia Archibald

Alicia Archibald

Satellite Office Coordinator

Alicia has been developing partnerships and assisting communities throughout Colorado for over 20 years. She has excelled in private and nonprofit business management, environmental education, and research and development of various sustainability strategies. Most of her career has centered around waste diversion, sustainable procurement, and recycling systems. Alicia has experience with commodities logistics, solid waste collection, transfer station management, as well as safety and personnel management.  She enjoys working in a team setting and using systems thinking to create innovative solutions. Alicia is based in Colorado Springs where she has resided for over 30 years.

Mike Ritter

Satellite Office Coordinator

Mike brings his expertise as the Economic Development Director at the Grand Junction Business Incubator Center driven by a profound dedication to empowering entrepreneurs and fostering business growth. His prior role as the Workforce and Business Development Director at the Fruita Area Chamber of Commerce underscores his adeptness in shaping future workforce strategies. Holding a bachelor’s degree in communications with a Minor in Political Science from Colorado Mesa University. Originally hailing from Arvada, Colorado, Mike made the move to the western slope in 2017 to attend CMU.



The Circular Economy Development Center was established by the Colorado state legislature via HB22-1159 to grow existing markets; create new markets; and provide necessary infrastructure, systems, logistics, and marketing to create a sustainable circular economy for recycled commodities in Colorado. The CEDC is funded through the Colorado Circular Communities (C3) Enterprise housed at the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment.


Get in Touch

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Satellite Offices

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Colorado Springs

Coordinator: Alicia Archibald

Office Address (by appt only):
704 East Boulder Street
Colorado Springs, CO 80903

Grand Junction

Coordinator: Mike Ritter

Office Address:
Business Incubator Center
2591 Legacy Way
Grand Junction, CO 81503