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Toilets recycled for road paving in Colorado Springs

By Rana Novini, Anchor/Reporter, r.novini@krdo.com
Published On: May 01 2014 07:05:34 PM CDT

A unique recycling program is paving the way of the future in Colorado Springs.

COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. -

A unique recycling program is paving the way of the future in Colorado Springs. 

Since 2012, Colorado Springs Utilities has been collecting your old, broken or unwanted toilets and offering a rebate for a WaterSense toilet. It saves customers money on utilities bills by saving 6,900 gallons of water or more per year.

But what CSU does with the toilets after you hand them over may surprise you.

The porcelain is crushed into 3/4-inch pieces then used for road base -- an aggregate mixture that lies beneath the asphalt.

"This product has structural stability," said Frank Kinder, senior conservation specialist at Colorado Springs Utilities.  "It has good weight, and it has moisture qualities that allow it to be very stable.  It's heavy, too, so it's a good component of old construction and new construction."

The pilot program started in 2012 and Kinder said it has been a boom to the local conservation community.  CSU won an award in 2012 for the program from the Colorado Association of Recycling.

In 2013, CSU processed more than 6,600 toilets and urinals amounting to nearly 500,000 pounds.  The crushed porcelain made more than 275 cubic yards of material and was used in Pikes Peak Rural Transportation Authority paving projects.

The product is free for contractors and environmentally safe, and the program reduces landfill waste.

Colorado Springs is among a handful of cities implementing a porcelain recycling program. 

"We've done presentations nationally to utilities across  the country," Kinder said. "They're looking to implement the same thing."

CSU asks that customers remove metal, plastic and rubber from toilets before having them recycled. You can drop off unwanted toilets at El Paso County's Household Hazardous Waste Facility, at 3255 Akers Drive.  Commercial customers can recycle at Olson Plumbing at 121 W. Cucharras Street.  For more information on times and options, click here.

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