Weyerhaeuser Executive, Descendant Urges Colorado to Recycle More
George Weyerhaeuser Jr. of the paper-making giant Weyerhaeuser Co. looks at Colorado and fails to see the environmentally activist state that others perceive.
Rather, Weyerhaeuser sees mountains of discarded waste that aren't being recycled.
Colorado is the nation's fourth-worst recycler, a victim of cheap landfill space that makes for poor recycling economics.
"We've got to do better," said Weyerhaeuser, senior vice president of technology in the company founded in 1900 by his great-great grandfather, Frederick Weyerhaeuser.
He was in Colorado this week to meet with government and business leaders and to encourage more paper recycling, an act that would benefit his company and its Denver recycling operation.
"Call it enlightened self-interest," Weyerhaeuser said of his plea to help the environment by helping his company's recycling business.
Demand for paper is growing worldwide, particularly in developing Asian countries, yet the growth rate of paper recycled in 9,000 municipal collection programs in the U.S. is starting to flatten, said Pete Grogan, Weyerhaeuser's manager of market development.
Denver's landfill fees of $12 per ton make it cheaper to dump paper than to recycle it.
The national average for landfill fees is $36 a ton. In densely populated East Coast areas with limited landfill areas, fees approach $80 a ton, making recycling a better alternative economically.
Next month, Denver will roll out an expanded recycling program in which junk mail, office paper, magazines, cardboard and phone books will be accepted. Currently, only newspapers, cans and bottles are recycled.
The city will begin distributing new recycling bins in which all items can be collected together.
The new plan should help narrow the gap between the city's expenses and revenues on recycling, said recycling manager Charlotte Pitt.
Denver now spends $1.4 million a year on the program and collects $1.1 million from selling recycled materials to contractors.
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Source: Knight Ridder/Tribune Business News