Curbside recycling for all in Vail? |

Curbside recycling for all in Vail?

Melanie Wong
Vail, CO Colorado
Daily file photoThe new cardboard compactor at Vail's drop-off site has made the site cleaner and cut the cost of hauling the materials down to Denver

VAIL, Colorado ” Every Vail, Colorado resident might be putting out their recycling along with their trash if the town starts a new trash and recycling program.

The town will hire a recycling expert to study the start of a program that would charge residents for trash pickup according to how much they throw away, and encourage all residents to put out their recycling along with their trash for pick up.

Right now, Vail residents have the option of taking their recycling to a drop-off site near the Vail municipal buildings, or trash hauler Vail Honeywagon picks up recycling by request, but for no extra fee.

The idea for the “pay-as-you-throw” program is that residents buy a certain sized trash container and pay more or less depending on how much trash they throw away, said Vail’s environmental health officer Bill Carlson.

Recycling pick up would be included in the base price of the trash pickup, encouraging residents to recycle more and pay less for their trash, he said.

Programs like that can be difficult to establish for resort communities like Vail, where many people only come for a few weeks and many properties are hotels and condos.

The town received a grant from the Northwest Colorado Council of Governments to study the program, Carlson said.

Vail Honeywagon owner Matt Donovan said he doesn’t know how such a program would affect his business, but that the company already offers and promotes the curbside recycling pickup to all its customers.

“It’s been growing through the years,” Donovan said. “We’ve been seeing the volume (of recycling) increase substantially.”

Right now, Honeywagon must sort the recyclables and transport them to Denver, a

process that can be very costly. Prices for recycled materials have dropped substantially in the last six months, Donovan said, meaning that the company actually looses money on its recycling service.

“But we’re happy to do it,” Donovan said. “A viable recycling program is vital to any solid waste program.”

Eagle County wants to build a sorting facility in Wolcott, which would save trash haulers on shipping costs in the future, he said.

Aspen has had pay-as-you-throw and curbside recycling service since 2005. Aspen requires that trash haulers pick up recycling. In addition, residents can buy a 32-gallon, 64-gallon or 96-gallon trash bin, and pay accordingly.

The city does significant advertising and outreach so that people know about the recycling service and trash options, said Ashley Cantrell, environmental health specialist for city of Aspen.

“It just incentivizes people to recycle more,” she said. “When you start recycling, you take a lot of those things out of your trash bin. Then your trash bill will go down.

She said the town works closely with hotels and property management companies, so the city’s transient population isn’t a problem for the recycling and trash program.

While Vail is studying the pros and cons of such a program, the town is still trying to make it easier for residents to recycle.

A new cardboard compactor at Vail’s drop-off site has made the site cleaner and cut the cost of hauling the materials down to Denver, Carlson said.

“It’s growing and we’re getting more material,” Carlson said of the town’s recycling program. “Some businesses haul all their cardboard over here, and we also accept comingleds and mixed paper such as magazines, office papers, newspapers, phone books.”

He said Vail Resorts and the town have also considered putting recycling bins in Timber Ridge, Vail’s largest employee housing complex. Residents throw out many cans and bottles, and much of it doesn’t make it to the drop-off site, he said.

“We talked about doing a pilot program at the end of last ski season,” he said. “It’s something that’s needed.”

Staff Writer Melanie Wong can be reached at 970-748-2928 or

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