Vail Valley recycling gets a boost |

Vail Valley recycling gets a boost

Scott Miller/Vail DailyWorkers at the Eagle County Landfill separate a load of recyclable material Monday at the new material recycling facility. While much of the work is automated, humans still have to separate cardboard from plastic, glass and metal. They also have to make sure there's no non-recyclable trash in the material going through the machine

WOLCOTT – As Mauri Nottingham watched a truck full of cardboard, cans and bottles being unloaded Monday, his first instinct was to scold whoever put all that trash in with their recyclables. But then he smiled and looked around the large building with the big machine.

“I never imagined anything like this when we started 20 years ago,” he said.

Nottingham, a lifelong valley resident, 20 years ago started a project called We Recycle. Two decades on, he stood in the middle of the new, 14,000 square-foot building and smiled.

Eagle County Monday held the official grand opening for the new “material recycling facility” at the Eagle County Landfill. The $5.5 million facility has been running since early January, and running smoothly.

While a conveyor belt sends glass, plastic and metal through a machine that separates those materials and dumps them into large holding rooms to be baled and boxed, keeping trash out of the mix still requires quite a bit of sorting from the time trucks dump their loads on the concrete floor.

Still, there’s a lot of automation. Sensors can determine whether cans are aluminum or tin, and can scan plastics to determine which bin they need to be dropped into. Air jets blow the plastics one direction or another, depending on what the scanners say.

The building was also built to reuse heat, and with plenty of panels in the roof to cut down on the amount of electric light needed inside.

The building was built with funds already in the landfill’s account, and manager Ron Rasnic said material has already been sold out of the facility and sent to buyers from Iowa to Arizona to Oklahoma.

While the bales and bundles are taking some long trips, the idea was to cut transportation costs for the un-processed items the county used to have trucked out to other processors. Other communities, including Glenwood Springs, are already sending recyclables to Eagle County to cut down on their transportation costs.

“This really brings the market to us,” Rasnic said.

Eagle County Commissioner Sara Fisher said the facility will also stretch the life of the landfill.

“And this gives us a chance to re-use a lot of this material,” Fisher said.

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