More people taking recycling to the curb

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— The number of Steamboat Springs residents participating in curbside recycling has increased slightly to 543 single-family households since the service was rolled into the cost of regular trash pickup one month ago. That number is up from 389 before the new curbside program debuted April 24.

"I'm surprised at the number of people who still don't know about curbside recycling," Sue Oakley said. "We're trying to figure out how to reach the right people." Oakley is chairwoman of Yampa Valley Recycles.

Waste Management is the primary trash hauler for residential customers in Steamboat and has also provided curbside recycling for about five years.

The company marked a significant change in direction April 24, when it eliminated the $5 monthly fee it charged for curbside recycling. Waste Management now includes curbside recycling in its trash pickup fee, but did not increase the rates.

Waste Management Site Manager Mike Stinson said he's happy to have 54 new households participating in the program, but when he compares that number to the 1,500 single-family households Waste Management serves with trash pickup, he'd like to see recycling participation double.

"I'm shooting for 1,000," Stinson said. "I think that's realistic."

Stinson pointed out that the 1,500 households don't include people living in condominiums and townhomes. He encouraged those customers to work through their homeowners associations to arrange for "curbside" recycling.

One thing Yampa Valley Recycles is doing to educate the public about curbside recycling is staffing the Waste Management yard from 8 a.m. until 3 p.m. on Saturdays with volunteers. "Recycling Wranglers" have been on hand in the Waste Management yard every Saturday for a month. They have been there to help people with the new commingling guidelines, and make certain they realize that unless they live outside the city, there's no need to make the car trip to Downhill Drive a couple of Saturdays a month.

"We're finding on Saturday's that about 30 percent of the people who visit the yard don't know (curbside recycling) is available," Oakley said. "We have run across people for whom that's become a habit and they prefer it to curbside."

Oakley estimates that 75 to 100 cars visit the Waste Management yard on a typical Saturday. That's still the best plan for most county residents outside the city limits (the yard is also open on weekdays). A number of people who live outside the city in Steamboat II, Heritage Park. Strawberry Park and Tree Haus also have curbside recycling included in their basic trash removal bill.

People who want to begin curbside recycling for the first time will have to pay a one-time fee of $20 for the purchase of recycling bins.

Also new to the recycling program this spring is the ability to recycle corrugated cardboard and magazines together with newspapers at the curb.

Corrugated cardboard, which brings in about $100 a ton, is the most lucrative recyclable for Waste Management. The company shipped 44 tons to Pruett, N.M., in March.

Nos. 1 and 2 plastic, by contrast, only bring about $20 a ton. Consumers can check to see if their waste plastic is recyclable locally by looking for the number on the bottom of the container.

People wishing to sign up for curbside recycling may do so by calling 879-2400. Volunteers interested in the Recycling Wanglers program may call the recycling hotline at 870-7575 and leave their name and telephone number.

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