Zero Waste Tip on the CHaRM

What to do with hard-to-recycle stuff?


Do you have a pile of stuff in your garage that you think might be recyclable, but you have an inkling that the folks at the Boulder County Recycling Center would be might unhappy if it showed up there?


We know how you feel. If the county’s guidelines say it does not go in the blue bin or curbside recycling cart, then you are right not to put the stuff there. What we call “wishful” recycling is a bad idea, because it contaminates the materials that are recyclable at the BCRC and winds up in the landfill.


So what’s the answer? Check out the Eco-Cycle/City of Boulder Center for Hard-to-Recycle Materials, or the CHaRM for short.


Since its founding in 2001, the Center for Hard-to-Recycle Materials has collected literally millions of pounds of hard-to-recycle items ranging from electronics to scrap metal and yoga mats. There is a $3 facility fee, which helps cover costs for staff and recycling equipment. The fee is waived for anyone biking or driving an electric vehicle. And there are fees for a few materials, such as some but not all electronics and mattresses and box springs.


Here’s a short list of items accepted at the CHaRM:


  • Electronics
  • Plastic appliances
  • Scrap metal
  • Plate glass windows
  • Plastic bags and bubble wrap
  • Mattresses and box springs
  • Bicycles
  • Books
  • Concrete
  • Porcelain toilets
  • Reusable shoes and clothes
  • Yoga Mats


All materials should be clean and dry.


For a complete list of items accepted at the CHaRM, go to


It’s always a good idea to check the website before coming because we periodically add new items and fees may change.


Why is it important to recycle absolutely everything we can? Because that helps get our community farther down the road to Zero Waste. Hard-to-Recycle Materials make up about 15 percent of the average municipal waste stream. When we keep these materials cycling through the economy, we create local jobs, conserve natural resources, and reduce our carbon footprint.


Got an item that’s not accepted at the CHaRM? Check out Eco-Cycle’s A to Z Recycling Guide. You can find a link at the top right corner of our homepage. Our guide covers more than 200 items, and if can’t be recycled at the CHaRM, then we’ll give you other options.


Got recycling questions? Contact [email protected] or call Eco-Cycle’s recycling hotline at 303.444.6634, Mon-Fri, 9 am – 5 pm.


KGNU will bring you recycling tips and covering zero waste issues throughout the year in partnership with Eco-Cycle, thanks to a grant from Boulder County.

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