‘A goal of zero waste’ | VailDaily.com

‘A goal of zero waste’

Julie Sutor
Summit Daily/Kristin Skvorc

SUMMIT COUNTY ” When it comes to trash, Summit County government has its sights set low ” all the way to zero.

The Summit Board of County Commissioners has given an informal nod to a “zero-waste” approach to garbage.

“We think it’s important to set a goal of zero waste, as a theoretical endpoint in our waste stream,” assistant county manager Thad Noll said.

“Much of what we put into the landfill is recyclable,” he added. “If we get to a point of 70 percent diversion from the landfill, we don’t say, ‘Hey, that’s great. Everybody gets an A.’ Our next goal would be 71 percent, and we’d keep moving in that direction.”

Officials admit that Summit County is still a long way from zero. Last year, the county landfill swallowed about 51,250 tons of trash. And the nonprofit Summit Recycling Project estimates that 15 percent of the county’s waste is kept out of the landfill through recycling efforts.

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But a zero-waste philosophy would mean the county will continue to pursue new methods and markets for waste disposal. The goal is to reduce consumption and increase reuse and recycle until the concept of a landfill is obsolete.

“Our goal would be to change the landfill from a disposal site to a resource-recovery park,” Summit recycling executive director Carly Wier said.

“First, we’ll have to work really hard at getting things we accept now for recycling out of the landfill,” she said. “We’re still throwing away a lot of cardboard, which is really easy and profitable to recycle.”

Wier said textiles, tennis shoes, broken plates and dishes also are recyclable. “One of the things that’s really important is to recycle our food scraps ” you’ll find a lot of your trash is actually food waste, especially when you consider restaurants,” Wier added.

A “materials recovery facility” is scheduled to open at the county landfill in January. The facility will enable the county to collect and recycle more material. The facility is also meant to make recycling more convenient by requiring less sorting of garbage.

The materials recovery facility should increase recycling by 30 percent within a year, Wier said.

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