Vail Daily column: Learn the ins and outs of local recycling
Recycling is all the buzz lately in Vail, and throughout Eagle County, but why? The best reason, of course, is because it’s the right thing to do for our environment, economy and public health. Another reason locally is because the town of Vail has a recycling ordinance in place; this means whether you live, visit or work in Vail you are asked to recycle (more info at http://www.vailgov.com/recycling).
The thing is, the more we recycle, the more questions we have, right? Explained here are some helpful hints for what can and can’t be recycled with your household recycling. It is important to not contaminate the recycling stream, and applying the below information can help ensure you are putting the right items in recycling.
If you are in the town of Vail, then you need to have recycling picked up curbside. Contact your waste hauler about curbside pick-up options throughout Eagle County. Recycling drop sites are available to the public; accepted is cardboard, paper and co-mingle (plastics Nos. 1-7, glass bottles and jars, tin/steel cans and aluminum cans); you can find a detailed list of acceptable items at http://www.eaglecounty.us/RecyclingWaste/Recycling/Where_to_Recycle/.
Here are the public recycling drop-site locations:
Vail: West of the Community Development Building at 75 South Frontage Road.
Red Cliff: Red Cliff Community Center at 400 Pine St.
Avon: Between Walmart and U.S. Highway 6 at 160 Nottingham Ranch Road.
Edwards: Edwards Rest Area near the Interstate 70 exit.
Eagle: 1050 Chambers Ave. at the Town of Eagle Public Works Facility.
Gypsum: Northwest corner of Bella’s Market parking lot.
Here are some tips about what to recycle.
Cardboard: Always break down boxes. Accepted are corrugated cardboard boxes, brown paper bags, paper towel rolls, cereal boxes and the like. Please do not recycle cardboard if it has food residue, is wax coated like frozen food boxes, or has a special liner or a plastic spout (mixed materials). You should check with your waste hauler to determine if they will pick up cardboard curbside, or if you need to take it to a drop site.
Paper: Accepted are newspapers with all inserts, magazines, paperback books, phone books, office paper and junk mail. Please do not recycle the hardcover of books, wrapping paper or tissue paper. If you have small amounts of loose shredded paper, then you may be able to place it in a paper bag and completely secure it closed with staples (but be sure to check that this is OK with your waste hauler). The best thing to do would be to add the shredded paper to your home composting. There are also companies that will securely shred and recycle paper for you; a couple options are: http://www.filefindersltd.com, http://www.paperwise.net, http://www.allamericanshredding.com.
Metals: Accepted are all sizes of steel, tin and aluminum cans; examples are: soda and beer cans, soup cans and the metal ends of frozen juice concentrate containers. Please do not recycle any car parts, paint cans, scrap steel and iron. Aluminum foil can be recycled only if it is completely free from food particles.
Glass: Accepted are bottles of any color and most jars; examples are: beer and soda bottles, wine bottles and condiment (mayo, pickles) jars. Please do not recycle window glass, Pyrex cookware, ceramics, porcelain, drinking glasses, dishes or light bulbs.
Plastics: Accepted are plastics labeled Nos. 1-7; examples are water, juice and soda bottles, milk containers, laundry-detergent containers and empty, clean 5-gallon buckets. Please empty all liquids. Please do not recycle plastic bags, films, utensils, straws, foam, bubble wrap, PVC pipe or PLA No. 7 plastics. PLA No. 7 plastics are made from plant fibers, so they are not a recyclable plastic. PLA No. 7 would need to be commercially composted or thrown away.
Plastic bags, films and wraps are the worst contaminates in the recycle bin; at the recycle center they can cause sorting machines to clog. Most recycling centers will not open plastic bags and sort through them and unfortunately this causes all the recyclables inside the bag to also be trashed to the landfill. Clean, dry, and empty plastic bags, films and wraps can be recycled at most grocery stores. I recommend not using bags in your recycling containers and taking the container directly to the recycling dumpster to dump (no money needs to be spent on bags).
Foam cups, containers and packing peanuts are not recyclable with your household recycling. It is best to avoid Styrofoam and purchase safer, reusable or recyclable counterparts. In the landfill there is no sign that Styrofoam material will ever break down; it will stay there forever, and the Styrene in this material is classified as a possible human carcinogen by the EPA.
Rinsing containers is a pain, but all co-mingle materials (plastic, glass and metal) must be rinsed or wiped out. Everything you put in the recycling bin needs to be free from food residue and liquid. So, please make sure all liquid is drained from containers and wiped or rinsed free of any food residue. Some people put containers needing rinsed in with dirty dishes in the sink or dishwasher, other people wipe out residue with a napkin and either compost the napkin or throw it away.
HOUSEHOLD HAZARDOUS WASTE
Hazardous waste is not safe to put in the recycling or trash. Residents can take up to 20 household hazardous waste items for free to Eagle County’s Household Hazardous Waste facility located next to the Eagle County Landfill at 815 Ute Creek Road in Wolcott. Items accepted at the Household Hazardous Waste facility include insect sprays, fertilizers, weed killers, fungicide, herbicide, paints and paint-related products, paint thinner, turpentine, varnishes, ammonia and bleach-based cleaners, auto fluids and batteries including filters, mercury thermostats, batteries, swimming pool chemicals, sharps and syringes. If you have questions about what the Household Hazardous Waste facility accepts, give them a call at 970-328-3463.
Electronics: It is against Colorado state law to put electronics in the landfill, and not allowed in your household recycling. Computers, TVs, cell phones, old VCRs, printers, fax machines, video game consoles and other electronics can be dropped off at the Household Hazardous Waste facility in Wolcott for 20 cents per pound.
It’s OK to ask your waste hauler what they accept in your recycling, as well as if you need to sort your recycling into separate bins. And, if you have special items like electronics, then your hauler may pick those up for a fee. Still have recycling questions? Check out Walking Mountains Science Center’s recycling page: http://www.walkingmountains.org/recycling-waste-reduction/.
Nikki Maline is the Sustainability Programs Associate at Walking Mountains Science Center and provides recycling support and education. Do you have recycling questions or need help with making sure you are recycling compliant in Vail? Call Nikki at 970-827-9725 x135 or email her at firstname.lastname@example.org.