Steamboat Springs It's big, it's mobile and it's green.
Yampa Valley Recycles' "Green Machine" recycling bin saved more than 10 tons of trash from entering the Milner Landfill during its first month touring Routt County.
The bin, which is placed in various Routt County locations on a rotating, weekly basis, collects No. 1 (drink bottles) and No. 2 (milk jugs) plastics, aluminum, tin and steel cans, and all paper products, including cardboard.
"We had very little contamination from people putting trash in there with the recyclables," said Jay Harris, site manager for Waste Management. "We were expecting some furniture, maybe some paint, but everyone seemed to be respectful of what to put in there."
This week, the Green Machine will be in Alpine Bank's parking lot off Pine Grove Road, where the bin can be found the first week of every month. The bin will be moved Nov. 12 to Yampa before returning to Steamboat on Nov.19 in the Safeway parking lot. The fourth week of the month, beginning Nov. 26, the bin will be in Oak Creek behind the Colorado Bar.
Yampa Valley Recycles, a volunteer-driven nonprofit agency, purchased the bin and placed it this summer near the baseball fields at Howelsen Hill.
"It was so successful and people kept asking when it would be back that we decided to have it traveling through the community this October as a pilot program," said Barb Parnell of Yampa Valley Recycles.
"We are so pleased at the number of people who used the container that we are going to keep it," she said.
Waste Management painted the container its signature green, and Parnell said Yampa Valley Recycles pays for the transportation costs - about $400 per month - of moving the bin from site to site.
Materials collected from the Green Machine are measured in terms of yards. The bin can hold about 20 yards of recyclables.
"Normally, when full, the bin weighs on average about 3 to 4 tons," Harris said.
Another development in Waste Management's recycling efforts was the company's move toward single-stream collection methods in which recyclables aren't separated.
"We are in the process of relabeling all the bins in town," Harris said. "The only thing I do that is not single stream are large volumes of cardboard and newspapers. I can ship that directly to the mills, and it doesn't have to go to a source center."
All recycled materials in Routt County are sent to Waste Management's Recycle America Center in Denver.
"We are shipping from up here anywhere between 240 and 300 tons per month, and that's three to four semi-truck loads per week," Harris said. "That's a whole lot of stuff not going into the landfill for sure."
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