Sustainability Tip: This is how recycling works in Eagle County |

Sustainability Tip: This is how recycling works in Eagle County

By Walking Mountains Science Center
Special to the Daily
Eagle County is looking at tipping fees at its landfill, shown above, as a way to spur recycling options.
Daily file photo

As our community moves towards protecting visitors in turbulent times, this week’s Sustainability Tip is about protecting functions in place that are saving our environment. Whatever outdoor activity drew you to the valley, there are plenty of ways that you can help us keep our mountains pristine. 

As a community, we work really hard to be sustainable stewards. Eagle County has a Climate Action Plan that guides a lot of the environmental work we do. In that plan, we have a goal of 30% waste diversion by 2030, meaning we want to recycle or compost at least 30% of the materials that typically end up in the landfill but don’t need to. Organics like food and yard waste, which could be composted locally, make up about 37% of our landfills. Recyclables make up another 37%.

A vital part of achieving our goals is the recycling program here in the county. In many of the public areas on the mountains and in the towns you’ll notice recycling bins paired with trash cans. Recycling is easy and important, but it can be confusing. The rules sometimes change when you’re not looking, and what can and cannot be recyclable varies depending on where you are and how you recycle. What is recyclable where you live may not be recyclable up here given our location, geology, and infrastructure.

Even within our county, we have two different types of recycling: single stream and dual stream. Some people have recycling picked up from their homes and businesses, and some people take their recycling to our drop sites located throughout the county. 

But if you’re visiting, you don’t need to know the nitty gritty of all that. The most important thing to remember is to always double check when you’re not sure which bin an item goes into. By following these simple tips, you can help us recycle right, reach our climate goals and preserve our environment. 

  • Pay attention to signs. Rules vary by town in Eagle County so take note of what can be recycled where. Plastics are the most confusing: Only plastic bottles, tubs, and jugs can be recycled in Vail, Avon, and Beaver Creek. That means no plastic cups!
  • When in doubt, throw it out. Contamination is no good for recycling, so if you’re not sure if an item is recyclable, it’s better to just throw it in the trash.
  • Always look for opportunities to reduce or reuse, then recycle. The three R’s are listed in order of how positively they impact the environment, so start by looking for chances to use less or repurpose things you already have. Small actions like carrying a reusable water bottle or shopping bag add up to make a big difference.
  • Download the free Eagle County Waste Wizard app. You can check if your item is recyclable – it’s always best to know before you throw.

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