Chook Chicken Takes Flight in Colorado’s Recycling Revolution

Chook Chicken restaurant leads the charge in Colorado’s efforts to improve its abysmal recycling rate.

Colorado’s recycling rate has long been a cause for concern, with the state consistently hovering at a dismal 16% of materials being recycled. However, small victories like Chook Chicken’s adoption of reusable takeout containers are offering a glimmer of hope. With the state’s annual State of Recycling report highlighting the need for change, Colorado is now implementing a series of laws and initiatives aimed at boosting recycling rates and creating a more sustainable future.

Chook Chicken’s Innovative Approach to Recycling

Chook Chicken, a popular restaurant chain in metro Denver, has partnered with Deliver Zero to introduce reusable plastic takeout containers. Customers who opt for this service pay an additional 99 cents and have up to three weeks to return the containers or face a $3 charge. These #5 plastic containers can be reused up to 1,000 times after being picked up and washed by Deliver Zero. Not only does this initiative contribute to reducing waste, but it also serves as a marketing tool for Chook Chicken, enticing customers to buy more when they drop off their used containers.

Colorado’s Recycling Woes

Colorado’s recycling rate of 16% is half the national average of 32%, highlighting the urgent need for improvement. The State of Recycling report acknowledges this issue and emphasizes the importance of addressing it. Despite Colorado’s green self-image, the state has struggled to make significant progress in recycling over the past seven years. However, recent policy changes and initiatives offer hope for a brighter future.

Policy Changes and Initiatives

To combat Colorado’s recycling challenges, state and local governments have implemented several key policy changes:

1. Producer Responsibility Board: A 2022 state law established a producer responsibility board with the power to tax packaging-makers and use the proceeds to fund universal curbside recycling across the state. This program aims to fill gaps in recycling access and create a more robust market for recycled materials.

2. Mandatory Recycling for Multifamily Apartments: Denver voters passed a law mandating recycling for previously neglected multifamily apartments, improving recycling rates among residents with better access.

3. Plastic Bag Restrictions: New state laws restrict the use of plastic grocery bags, with a complete ban set to take effect in 2024. These restrictions aim to reduce plastic waste and prevent contamination in recycling and compost streams.

The Importance of Waste Reduction

While recycling is crucial, advocates stress the importance of waste reduction. Initiatives like Breckenridge Grand Vacations’ switch from single-use shampoo bottles to refillable containers have proven successful in reducing waste and lowering costs. The goal is to create a circular economy, where recyclables are collected and sorted efficiently, and companies use these materials to create new packaging.

Overcoming Challenges and Expanding Efforts

While Chook Chicken’s reusable container initiative has shown promise, there are still challenges to overcome. Getting third-party delivery services involved in the process, such as Grubhub or DoorDash, could help facilitate pickups and returns. Additionally, more restaurants need to embrace change and adopt similar sustainable practices.


Colorado’s recycling rate has long been a cause for concern, but recent policy changes and innovative initiatives are offering hope for improvement. Chook Chicken’s reusable container program is just one example of how businesses and individuals can contribute to a more sustainable future. By embracing waste reduction and building a circular economy, Colorado can pave the way for other states to follow suit. While challenges remain, the progress made so far indicates a positive trajectory for the state’s recycling efforts.






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