Melanie Wong

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July 16, 2014
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Vail recycling program underway

VAIL — On July 1, the town of Vail’s new recycling program went into effect after months of planning — now with the policy part finalized, the new challenge comes with putting the program into action.

The new campaign, dubbed Love Vail, makes recycling mandatory in town and offers residents and businesses rebates for bin purchases and hauling fees. The Love Vail message seemed to resonate most strongly across the town, said Kristen Bertuglia, Vail’s environmental sustainability coordinator

“Green for the sake of being green didn’t resonate,” she said. “Everyone had a different idea and opinion of environmental sustainability law, but everyone agreed that when it came to Vail, they loved it and wanted to preserve it.”


The town itself will help make recycling easier in public places with new signs and a series of question and answer sessions held in partnership with Walking Mountains Science and Nature Center. The first session will be Tuesday from 9:30 to 10:30 a.m. at the Lionshead Welcome Center, and anyone who wants to learn more about the new recycling laws is welcome to attend and have their questions answered.

The new law requires residents to purchase wildlife-resistant recycling container that is at least 64 gallons. Businesses must provide a recycling container alongside any trash can, and condominiums and apartments most have a dedicated recycling dumpster along with the trash dumpster. The town is offering rebates for residents to purchase their new bins and for businesses to help with hauling fees.

To aid with the transition, the town is giving people until Jan. 1 to adapt to the new laws.

“For now we won’t be ticketing people who aren’t doing it right,” said Bertuglia. “We want people to try and do it correctly, but enforcement won’t start until winter. We want everybody to start their program now. We understand if guests are there and accidentally throw something out. Trash is not a perfect science. You won’t get a ticket or go to jail over a misplaced pizza box.”

Working it out

The change is pretty simple for most residents, but some businesses in the villages, homeowners and condo associations will need to make bigger changes in order to accommodate a recycling-specific dumpster. Some business owners in Vail Village are especially struggling to find a place to store the large amount recycling they generate before it gets hauled away. A combination of residential properties and businesses make the process a bit complicated as well.

“We are trying to exhaust all creative options first in those cases,” said Bertuglia. “For many business, it’s not a big deal. Some folks didn’t need a law because they were already doing it. Some places, it’s more challenging because there isn’t any room for extra bins.”

The Vail Racquet Club has found some low-cost creative solutions to comply with the new laws. The club’s dumpsters were located in enclosures that didn’t allow room for additional recycling containers.

At first, the club considered building an additional enclosure for recycling, said grounds and facilities director Steve Loftus. However, the new building would have cost about $30,000, so the club decided to dedicate one of the dumpster sheds to recycling instead. New signs and helpful information guided residents with the new layout. Loftus said the new system has tripled recycling storage capacity and has been well received by residents.

“We were a little worried at first that there would be a lot of contamination with people throwing trash in there or not doing it right, but it’s worked pretty well so far,” Loftus said. “Getting people to break down cardboard is always a challenge, so that creates a little more work for the staff, but it’s not a nightmare. To do the right thing, sometimes it take a little extra work.”

Assistant Managing Editor Melanie Wong can be reached at 970-748-2927 and

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The VailDaily Updated Jul 16, 2014 09:29PM Published Jul 16, 2014 10:21PM Copyright 2014 The VailDaily. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.