Area recycling a mixed bag

Lynn BurtonPost Independent Staff

When Glenwood Springs opens its regional recycling center this spring, the facility will expand household recycling opportunities for area residents. Recycling programs elsewhere in the county are a patchwork effort dependent on private waste haulers and government support.-Waste haulers who serve individual residents in Carbondale and Glenwood Springs offer curbside recycling at no extra charge to their customers. Glenwood Springs also allows commercial waste hauler BFI to park recycling bins at the South Canyon landfill.-New Castle and Silt contract with BFI for residential trash hauling, and curbside recycling is included at no extra cost.-Rifle operates its own municipal trash service, but does not offer a curbside recycling program or operate a recycling center.-Garfield County recycles construction materials and other items, such as washing machines and other large appliances, at its Anvil Points landfill. It does not accept cans, glass, newsprint or cardboard.-Rural residents from Rifle to Carbondale may or may not receive recycling service from private trash haulers, depending on where they live.”We offer recycling in some areas that we are able to,” said Kathy McCann, customer service representative for Waste Management Inc., another commercial trash hauler serving Garfield County.Residents inside the Rifle city limits have the fewest household recycling opportunities, and most folks know why.”We had a Saturday morning drop-off arrangement with Elmer Blackmore,” said Selby Myers, Rifle’s city manager.Blackmore operated a salvage yard, and accepted household recycling items. When Blackmore retired, no one stepped up to take his place.”He performed a great service,” Myers said. “He was Mr. Recycling.”Myers said the city used money from its trash fund to pay Blackmore to operate the Saturday morning drop-off center, and is willing to pay for a recycling center again. The problem is finding a large parking lot with significant pedestrian traffic where the city can park recycling containers. Pedestrians are needed to help police a recycling center, so people don’t dump garbage in the aluminum, glass or newsprint bins.”The community has to own this thing,” Myers said. “We can’t staff it. We’d lose our shirt.”Carbondale knows about shirt-losing drop-off centers. The town operated a recycling center in the 1980s and ’90s, using funds from the town landfill to subsidize the operation. When the town closed the landfill, it also closed the recycling center. Public works director Larry Ballenger said it would cost the town $70,000 per year to operate a recycling center. Much of the projected loss would result from weak markets for newsprint and other materials.”There were times when Elmer had to pay people to haul things off,” Myers said, referring to the old Rifle recycling center. “Sometimes there’s not even enough money to pay for the transportation. That’s the problem. You can’t break even on recycling. That’s a fact.”In Garfield County, a polite discussion on recycling has started between commissioners Trsi Houpt and John Martin.”I’d like to see a recycling center in each community,” Houpt said. “It’s part of the function of owning a landfill, and it’s a service people expect.”Martin disagrees. “Recycling operations run at a deficit. Private enterprise should handle it.”Pitkin County operates the valley’s most complete recycling operation, with drop-off points scattered around the county and a sorting and shipping facility at its landfill. Pitkin County also spends $500,000 per year to subsidize the program.”About 20 percent of our tipping fees go toward subsidizing recycling,” said Miles Stotts, Pitkin County public works director.At Anvil Points, landfill manager Kraig Kuberry said the county hopes to start accepting aluminum cans one of these days. “We’re taking it in small steps,” Kuberry said. “I have a landfill budget, and I have to stick to it.”Garfield County manager Ed Green said he wouldn’t rule out Anvil Points instituting a tipping surcharge like Pitkin County’s to subsidize a recycling program.”I suppose anything is possible,” Green said. “It’s up to the commissioners, and if the taxpayers want it.”Contact Lynn Burton: 945-8515, ext.

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