Recycling plan may affect Eagle County Landfill

How many streams?

Recycling in this area is generally one of two types: “single stream” or “dual stream.” Here’s a quick explanation.

• Single stream is the most convenient for businesses and residents, requiring just one bin. But, that material is harder to process, and less valuable.

• Dual stream requires residents and businesses to separate paper from glass and plastics. It’s harder to do, but the material is easier to process, and worth more on the market.

VAIL — Town officials got some new information as they continue to ponder a recycling ordinance — the possible effects on the Eagle County Landfill.

Ken Whitehead, landfill manager, this week told the Vail Town Council that mandating a particular type of recycling — either “single stream” or “dual stream” — could have a significant impact on the “material recovery facility” at the landfill. That $5 million facility was set up to accommodate “dual stream” recycling, in which residents and businesses separate paper from glass and plastic.

A big part of the discussion around the town’s potential recycling regulations has been whether or not to mandate dual stream or single stream recycling, which involves residents and business putting everything into one bin.

Trash haulers in Vail now offer a form of single stream recycling, but that material is shipped out of Eagle County. Whitehead said it could cost as much as another $5 million to convert the existing $5 million facility to single stream, because of the added complexity of separating everything at a facility.

In fact, Whitehead said, even if the county’s recycling facility loses all its dual stream recycling beyond its current contracts, the county will lose less money than it would by converting to the more complex system.

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Kristin Bertuglia, town sustainability director, told council members they could help the county facility by not mandating a specific type of recycling in an ordinance ­— which council members could see later this year.

Town Manager Stan Zemler said he’d have staff members take a more in-depth look at the town’s options before putting a requirement for recycling methods into a draft ordinance.

Vail Daily Business Editor Scott Miller can be reached at 970-748-2939 or at

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