Cheaper, cleaner recycling on its way
Vail, CO Colorado
EAGLE COUNTY ” When the recycling bins are overflowing, Michele Keane has been known to jump in and bounce on the towering cardboard like a trampoline.
She’s smashing down the refrigerator-sized boxes that well-intentioned people often forget to flatten themselves. Cardboard can be pretty springy actually, unless it’s sitting on top of a wooden bedroom dresser or a pile of car batteries, which someone deemed as recyclable for some reason.
People are used to seeing messy, overflowing and garbage-filled recycling bins around here, but the county wants to change that.
Soon, the big green Dumpsters will be replaced by specialized recycling trailers that are commonly seen in grocery-store parking lots. These portable, spiffy looking trailers can be hauled away at a moment’s notice by a county truck when they’re full.
Also, these trucks will soon have a nice local place to dump recycled goods. Instead of costly drives to Grand Junction, trucks will be able to drop off recyclables at a new “transfer station” at the landfill in Wolcott.
Take away the cost burden and logistical nightmare of regular pickups, and your recycling bins should become cleaner and more user friendly, officials say.
Then it’s up to you, the recycler, to refrain from dropping tires in the bins.
“They could definitely pick up the loads more often, but the community has to take recycling more seriously,” Keane said. “They use it as a trash bin now.”
The transfer station would be a large, open warehouse that would act as a drop off point for any of the recycling groups in the county, thus stopping the need for constant trips to processing plants in Grand Junction, Summit County and the Front Range.
Recycled materials will be consolidated into a semi-truck trailer and shipped to those processing plants in bulk, which is expected to dramatically shrink driving costs.
“With fuel costs going up, that’s what kills us,” said Ron Rasnic, the solid waste and recycling manager for the county. “Now we can send it all in one big chunk, we can send full loads.”
The transfer station will also allow the county to sell a lot of those recycled goods. It’s possible that a company like Coors for instance, which extensively uses recycled glass, could buy and pick up old bottles from the transfer station, County Manager Bruce Baumgartner said.
While this won’t be a big source of revenue, the county hopes to offset the transfer station’s operating costs. The station itself could cost around $3.4 million.
Moving away from that Dumpster look could be a big boost to the recycling program.
Since these trailers would be portable, they could be placed in easily seen areas like grocery store parking lots, which should discourage garbage dumping and entice people to recycle, said Matt Scherr, director of the Eagle Valley Alliance for Sustainability, which currently manages recycling operations in the county.
“People could recycle before they buy groceries,” Scherr said. “That’s a lot more convenient.”
And since the county would have its own truck to drive away filled up bins, there wouldn’t be the added expense of contracting a hauler, something the Alliance has to do regularly. Basically, nothing about recycling here is efficient, Scherr said.
“It’s expensive to collect, our drop off sites are a mess and they aren’t easy to use ” but that’s the best system we have with the infrastructure that exists,” Scherr said. “We’ve got a large part of our population who are formerly urban people, and they’re aghast at the state of recycling.”
The county’s plans will dramatically improve the quality of recycling in the county, Scherr said.
The county currently has Dumpsters out in Avon, Eagle, Gypsum and Edwards. Each one of those will be replaced with a trailer, and the county will probably buy two new ones to place somewhere that doesn’t have recycling, some place like Bond or Red Cliff, Rasnic said.
And with the decreased costs of hauling recycled goods, the county is working on developing curbside recycling in Eagle and Gypsum.
Staff writer Matt Terrell can be reached at 748-2955 or firstname.lastname@example.org.