Steamboat Springs The convenient recycling drop-off that Steamboat residents have enjoyed in the Safeway grocery parking lot for years is poised to undergo a significant change May 10. That’s when the service provider shifts from Waste Management to Twin Enviro Services and the hours of availability are pulled back to 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. Saturdays only.
The new hours for drop-off recycling at the Safeway parking lot are in contrast to the previous service by Waste Management, which left large green recycling Dumpsters in the parking lot off U.S. Highway 40 between downtown and the ski mountain starting Friday mornings and leaving them there through Sunday.
The new service comes without a fee “for the time being,” but the service itself is only temporary — drop-off recycling will cease at the parking lot in October.
The growing awareness that recycling is not free, the city of Steamboat Springs' realization that the Green Machines did not conform to its zoning codes and the knowledge that the recycling service available with trash pickup in the city is underutilized have all contributed to the change.
“We don’t know what will happen in November and December,” the Yampa Valley Sustainability Council’s Emilie Rogers said Friday. “We really don’t.”
Rogers, who administers Yampa Valley Recycles for YVSC, said her nonprofit is focused on an effort to develop a permanent facility that will meet community standards while making it possible to take in a broader range of hard-to-recycle materials.
“The long-term goal of YVSC is to have a facility which will adhere to the codes of the city that will be limited access, manned and fenced,” Rogers said.
When the change takes place May 10, single stream recycling also will change — Twin Enviro will offer single stream recycling for paper and paperboard, plastics numbered 1 to 7 and aluminum. Recyclables like glass and cardboard will be collected in separate Dumpsters.
Twin Enviro President David Epstein told the Routt County Board of Commissioners in April that his company has acquired a baler for the cardboard and will not haul glass to the Materials Recycling Facility on the Front Range because there is a financial disincentive to do so. Instead, per state guidelines, it will spread recycled glass in the Milner Landfill either to create a drainage layer or to over-layer trash in the landfill.
Drop-off recycling hours in the Safeway parking lot have been pulled back in part to allow Twin Landfill to staff the site with someone who can answer questions and to direct people on proper recycling habits.
But it’s also plain that the limited hours are part of weaning people who already have access to other recycling options besides the recycling drop-off in the grocery’s parking lot. YVR has surveyed Green Machine customers and found a significant number were unaware that their residential trash pickup came with recycling pickup.
Rogers said she she felt fortunate that Twin Enviro was willing to take on recycling drop-off in the Safeway parking lot until October and also praised Safeway and Waste Management for their years of collaboration.
“Without Waste Management’s partnership, these recycling opportunities would not have existed,” she said.
A contributing factor to the change in the Safeway parking lot is that the Green Machines were being overused to the point of creating an eyesore.
“In the last year this once-tidy drop-off location has been growing into an eye sore with increasing yards and yards of recycling overflow sitting next to the containers every Sunday,” YVSC Program and Marketing Director Andy Kennedy said.
She added there is a possibility that if recyclers continue to leave materials in the parking lot on Fridays and Sundays, there is the possibility the program will end sooner than October.
Rogers said the Sustainability Council needs the cooperation of community members.
“People are doing the right thing, but we live in a community that is a significant distance from an end source, and there has to be accountability,” Rogers said. “We’re hoping people will be more accountable for their own materials.”
To reach Tom Ross, call 970-871-4205, email tross@SteamboatToday.com or follow him on Twitter @ThomasSRoss1