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.

Photo by Ben Ingersoll

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.

Green machines go away May 10; Twin Enviro assumes drop-off recycling on Saturdays only


— 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 or follow him on Twitter @ThomasSRoss1


Scott Wedel 2 years, 11 months ago

Pretty messed up how attempting to do it perfectly becomes the enemy of doing it at all.

Pretty messed up that the "solution" of people not sufficiently using curbside recycling is to remove those people's preferred method of drop off recycling.

Pretty weak to be blaming zoning regulations as if those regulations could not be modified to allow the public preferred method.

And now the desired zoning becomes a dedicated fenced in parcel? Well, that will be both less convenient and either steal away a piece of city parkland or require acquiring a hideously expensive parcel.

They should find a parking lot for a business that is mostly closed weekends (such as Alpine Lumber) and simply provide enough capacity via a large trailer instead of the relatively small Green Machines.

BTW, this is exactly what I predicted last year. That a recycling program hauling materials to Denver was unsustainable. And yet tens of thousands of dollars was spent continuing the existing instead of working towards switching to something sustainable.


Cresean Sterne 2 years, 11 months ago

Bingo!!! As Steamboat continues to grow and more and more people recycle, this was bound to happen without taking measures to prevent it. More containers were needed and not in one spot. They should be spread out maybe a couple at Ace (plenty of room in the back) or by Napa, and a couple maybe between Quadobas and Walmart.

Also the convenience of not sepeating most everything except cardboar is becoming a norm in many places. My question is "why does glass have to be seperated if the recycling still has to go through a seperation machine.?? I understand that taking glass to denver just doesnt financially make sense but this will only confuse people who dont have to seperate through waste managemaent but will have to through a couple other companies.

Western does curbside but brings a diferent vehicle to collect the seperated recycling once every 2 weeks. Kind of a pain in my but which is why we choose to drive our recycling to a bin or facility for drop off.. Unfortunatly it looks as if this is how the recycling will be untill a facility can truly figure out how many bins to place, where to put them and how to make it as convenient as possible.

May I also suggest looking into a free drop off site in the future for trees and slash that can be turned into mulch. The mulch can be sold back to the public either by bag or pick up load. We have a temporary one for Xmas trees but it is only seasonal. This is another problem I have seen in the area that Steamboat lacks but needs.

Best of luck to Twin Enviro. I hope over time that you can offer a clean, cheep and convenient recycling program in Stmbt that works well and and that people will repect. :-)


Scott Wedel 2 years, 11 months ago

The basic problem is that single stream recycling requires a $25M materials recovery facility.

Dual stream recycling is far easier to process and regionally there is one at the Eagle County landfill on hwy 131. We are way too remote to ever have a single stream processing facility.

I don't understand why the same people so quick to complain about big pharma or big Ag are so willing to fall for Waste Management's big recycling. Since they are the only ones big enough for a single stream processing center then it should be obvious why they promote single stream recycling over dual stream. And yet single stream has received government support for years from tipping fees.

The bins now fill up within hours at Safeway. That means the local population is willing to drop off in a small time frame. So all that we really need is a weekly drop off recycling option with enough capacity.

The Green Machines are horribly inefficient because they are small, the bin itself is heavy and it requires specialized equipment to move.

A far more effective solution would be to utilize two or three 30 foot or longer 5th wheel trailers with sidewalls with some windows for throwing the recycling materials in. There would need to be a minimum of two to handle dual stream. The one with glass and plastics could be driven directly to Eagle County's MRF to actually be recycled instead of consumed at the dump as planned by Twin Enviro. The one(s) with cardboard/paper could be taken to Milner to be baled.

That this technically violates some zoning regulation is easily enough handled by rewriting that zoning code to create an exemption for drop off recycling.


Cresean Sterne 2 years, 11 months ago

Safeway fills up within hours because everyone is trying to drop it off before they fill up. More then 2 bins in one spot is obviously not enough for this size of our community. (even with curbside).

WM puts one in Oak Creek the last week of every month. It does need a seperate cardboard bin but so far it seems to be working good.. Oak Creek has a population of around 850 and the bin seems to hold just enough. I do worry that in the future it will start looking like the photo above as it becomes abused with material being left outside the bin from over use. ...But so far it seems to be working.

You have a valid point Scott with Eagle county being not so far away. Something to consider and look into.

Either way, something has to change. ...That photo above says it all....


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