Circular economy models are evolving in southern Colorado


The Circular Economy Development Center’s recent stakeholder meeting explored concrete examples that show how circular models are evolving in southern Colorado, highlighting several businesses that derive their success from recovered plastics.

On February 7 at Microchip’s Colorado Springs facility, business owners, government representatives and elected officials heard from Front Range Transload, a Pueblo-based material-handling company that provides the opportunity to aggregate less than full loads of material until there is enough volume for a truck or rail carload to go to market. Direct Polymers, a recycling services provider, utilizes the space to aggregate plastics. The company is preparing to close the loop on plastics by launching a manufacturing business in Colorado. The CEDC is helping coordinate these projects as part of circular economy development and showing other recyclers how materials could be stored for combined transport by rail or truck.

Meeting participants also heard from ByFusion, a company looking to expand their operations to Colorado to serve as a local end market for plastic film and flexible packaging. Additionally, Replenysh shared their approach to capturing post-consumer plastics, confirming that bottle-to-bottle circularity can sustain a thriving business.

Using plastic products and packaging as a unifying theme for the discussion, those in attendance learned that a circular economy requires a systemic approach to economic development. How we transport materials in this system is key to improving how we reuse and recycle our waste materials, but it also requires collaboration, robust data tracking, and technical expertise.

“There is a need for better communication and connections between those who collect and process waste and those who can use it to create products,” said CEDC Director Laurie Johnson. “The CEDC is designed to be the portal where businesses receive guidance on logistics and compliance, and then are connected to local, regional or statewide networks.”

The recyclable materials Colorado landfills every year could have been sold for more than $100 million in commodity value, according to The State of Recycling & Composting in Colorado 2022 report. There is a significant opportunity to create the conditions for economic growth and opportunity for all communities through a focus on the circular economy.