Hub-and-spoke recycling model

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In its simplest form, the hub-and-spoke recycling model consists of a centralized processing center, or “hub,” where recyclable material is sorted, baled and/or sold to market, and “spokes,” the surrounding communities that feed the recyclables they collect to the main hub. Typically the hub and spoke communities have a formal agreement that ensures the recyclables collected in the region flow from the spokes to the hub for processing. 


  • Hub-and-spoke creates economies of scale that avoid communities investing in duplicative recycling infrastructure. Costs for equipment, personnel, processing, transportation and marketing are shared.
  • Equally important is the development of a regional partnership to sustain the hub-and-spoke system. Many small communities struggle to generate enough recyclables to attract investment from large recyclers.
    • These communities can’t financially support a full-scale recycling program on their own.
    • Consolidating recyclables from multiple communities via a hub-and-spoke partnership increases the volume of recyclables collected, adding to revenue potential.  

Recycling Resources Economic Opportunity Grant Program
The program recognizes the benefits of the hub-and-spoke concept, especially for rural Colorado, and has made it a top priority to fund projects that employ this model. The lack of recycling processing capacity (hubs) and collection sites (spokes) in rural areas has created a disparity in the availability of recycling opportunities. The RREO Grant Program uses available grant funding to address this disparity. 

  • Any proposal that seeks to build or retrofit a facility to process, consolidate and store recyclables (hub) AND includes plans to offer public drop-off locations for recyclables in AT LEAST TWO outlying communities (spokes) qualifies as a hub-and-spoke recycling system.
    • Equally important will be evidence of a partnership that exists between the hub and the spokes, ensuring the recyclables collected in the region flow from the spokes to the hub for processing.
  • Hub-and-spoke proposals will be considered Tier 1 under the RREO Grant Program’s list of priorities; however, the proposal may be bumped to a lower priority tier if it’s determined that it doesn’t meet the definition of a hub-and-spoke system. 
  • Please review the tier determination flowchart, which clarifies what makes a Tier 1 proposal.


Grant application guidelines
Specific guidelines for hub-and-spoke proposals can be found on the Recycling Grants and Rebates page. All hub-and-spoke proposals will be expected to: 

  • Increase resource conservation by creating new recycling and waste diversion collection and processing programs. 
  • Provide an opportunity for small, rural communities to process and/or collect materials for marketing. 
  • Create greater recycling economies of scale in rural, underserved areas of the state.
  • Maintain current solid waste jobs and/or create new and permanent jobs directly and indirectly.
  • Provide a long-term, sustainable operational and financial commitment.  
  • Improve transportation energy efficiency by consolidating recycling materials. 
  • Reduce environmental impact, from resource extraction to products made from virgin materials.
Hub-and-spoke projects may focus on materials traditionally found in the municipal solid waste (MSW) stream, including some combination of paper and containers. “Paper” includes cardboard, paperboard, newspaper/magazines and office paper/opened mail. “Containers” include No. 1 and No. 2 plastic containers (and may include plastics No. 3-No. 7), aluminum/steel cans, and glass bottles/jars. Projects may also focus on other recyclables, such as electronic waste, construction and demolition waste, and other hard-to-recycle materials. These projects will also be considered Tier 1 projects.

Whenever practical, applicants should consider organizing their hub-and-spoke system to collect source-separated recyclables, or recyclables that are segregated by type at the collection point. Source-separated recyclables maintain a higher value for each commodity and help address a growing concern within the recycling industry about contamination. However, proposals won’t be penalized if the applicant prefers to collect single-stream recyclables.

Appropriate signage communicates to the public what materials they can recycle.

  • You should consider signage needs at the collection facility and on individual containers, and how they might differ.
  • Signs printed in a language other than English may be needed.
  • Consider incorporating pictures to show examples of what’s acceptable and/or what isn’t.
  • Allow space within the poster’s design to credit the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment for our assistance in funding the project.
  • Focus on how the signage used in this project can be designed so it can be understood at a glance.
    • It’s widely accepted that with any signage there’s a three-second window to capture viewers’ attention and convey a message. Signage should be developed with this in mind.
A “'letter of commitment”' is different from a “letter of support.”
  • A letter of support states that a local government agent or community group endorses or approves of the project.
  • A letter of commitment is a statement of active participation in the project by an entity that will play an important role in the project’s implementation. It specifies resources that the entity will commit to the project and identifies what role it will play in achieving the project’s goals.
Address each letter of commitment to the department, as shown in the above examples. These letters are not meant to be legally binding. The intent is to clarify the anticipated roles and responsibilities of partners in a hub-and-spoke project for the benefit of the application review committee. When entities other than the grant applicant play an important role in a proposed project’s implementation, it is important for the review committee to see letters of commitment from these partners to assess the project’s feasibility. Hub-and-spoke applicants must submit, at the very least, a letter of commitment signed by each partner in the hub-and-spoke network being proposed. A memorandum of understanding, an inter-agency agreement or formal contracts with each entity are also acceptable, but not required