Vail Town Council: Beefed-up enforcement needed to boost town’s recycling rates
Council rejects idea to switch to a single trash hauler for the town
- 27%: Recycling rate for Eagle County, 2019.
- 28%: Recycling rate for the town of Vail, 2019.
- 17%: Recycling rate for Colorado, 2019.
- 35%: National recycling rate.
Vail has had a townwide recycling ordinance since 2014. Town officials say progress has been made, but they hope to do better. But how will that work?
The Vail Town Council on Tuesday rejected an idea to move away from the three companies that now haul materials out of town and contract with just one firm.
In presenting the idea to the council, Beth Markham, Vail environmental sustainability coordinator, said a single-hauler system could create a more uniform system of trash containers and billing. Moving away from the current system could also reduce truck traffic on town streets, she said.
“We have trash and recycling trucks on our roads six days a week,” Markham said, adding the number of trucks on the roads adds to traffic congestion, environmental concerns and wear and tear on town streets.
Markham said the single-hauler system could reduce rates for users and could allow the town to require everyone to have trash service.
In addition to requesting action to create a single-hauler system for the town, Markham noted that the town hasn’t done much enforcement of the current ordinance, choosing instead to use education with residents.
Responding to a question from councilmember Jenn Bruno, Markham acknowledged that the town has never issued its maximum fine of $1,000 for violations.
Bruno noted that when visiting the New York home of her parents, she and her family are made aware that not putting the right thing in the right container can create higher bills.
Vail needs to start enforcing fines on those who don’t comply with the town ordinance, she said.
Councilmember Travis Coggin agreed that enforcement of the town’s current rules would be a good place to start before changing the current system. Coggin added that if officials are still talking about increasing compliance in a couple of years of better enforcement, it might be time then to talk about changing the system.
“Single-hauler is not the right first step,” Coggin said.
Councilmember Kim Langmaid said a single-hauler system in town could be helpful. The current system leads to confusion for residents and guests, Langmaid said.
“I feel like this is the right direction,” Langmaid said.
While the council rejected the idea of changing the town’s trash hauling system now, the door isn’t closed.
But, Mayor Dave Chapin said, “Before we ever make a move like this, there will be plenty of public input.”
Vail Daily Business Editor Scott Miller can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.