Where does your recycling go, Vail Valley? | VailDaily.com

Where does your recycling go, Vail Valley?

Melanie Wong
Vail, CO Colorado

EAGLE COUNTY, Colorado ” Jake Orlowitz doesn’t like the thought of all his trash ending up in a landfill, but he admits that’s where it often goes.

He said he tries to recycle, and gets as far as setting it aside, but often it doesn’t make it to the drop-off site.

“I try, I really try to,” he said. “But if the place doesn’t have curbside (pickup) most of the time it turns to trash.”

However, he always recycles if there is a bin nearby at a public place or at Battle Mountain High School where he works, he said.

Colorado residents generate approximately 7.5 million tons of solid waste annually, an increase of approximately 60 percent from 1995, according to the Governor’s Energy Office.

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency estimates that each Coloradan generates 6.1 pounds of waste per person per day, while the national average for waste generation is 4.5 pounds per person per day.

Eagle County wants to lower those numbers. There are plans for a new $2.8 million recycling facility at the landfill, which will allow the county and area garbage companies to sort and process recyclable materials more quickly and cheaply.

Right now there are recycling drop-off sites in Vail, Avon, Edwards, Eagle and Gypsum.

To cover the costs and get more materials through the facility, county officials have discussed which materials fetch the highest price, and have even considered making recycling mandatory countywide.

However, as County Manager Bruce Baumgartner pointed out, “You don’t recycle because it makes money. You recycle because it’s the right thing to do.”

Eagle residents Chrissy Welch and James Parsons also admitted they do not recycle as much as they would like.

“It’s a good thing for the environment, but it’s honestly I don’t do it because of laziness in general. You have to separate it all and drive it over,” Parsons said.

They said they would both be far more inclined to recycle if there were curbside pickup.

Avon resident Scott Leonard said he doesn’t think getting the recyclables to the drop-off sites is too much of a hassle. His family saves most of their plastic containers and cardboard for drop-off every two weeks or so.

“Once in a while I just take the long way home,” he said, shrugging. “It’s not really that much effort. It’s a small extra step.”

Making recycling mandatory is a great idea, he said, but adding even more drop-off sites and making the process even easier would also encourage people to recycle more.

“We want the easy and quick whatever. If each community had one, for example at the entrance of each neighborhood, it’d be well used,” Leonard said.

But others aren’t as keen on the idea of being required to recycle.

“I think it’s a bad idea anytime the government forces people to do something they would otherwise do voluntarily,” Orlowitz said.

Doing a rebate system or providing incentives for businesses to recycle might be a better alternative, he said.

“(Getting people to recycle) takes education, and it takes time,” he said.

Staff Writer Melanie Wong can be reached at 748-2928 or mwong@vaildaily.com.

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