Our View: Recycle like you mean it
May 10, 2014
The next four months could turn out to have been a critical test in the future of recycling in Routt County. And that ratchets up the importance of households in Steamboat Springs demonstrating their willingness to put more effort into recycling more responsibly.
The familiar Green Machines that Waste Management has maintained for years in the Safeway grocery parking lot are a thing of the past and will be replaced temporarily by recycling dumpsters overseen by Twin Resources with staff supervision from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. Saturdays only.
Service will continue only until October now that we know the presence of the Green Machines in the parking lots has never conformed to city of Steamboat Springs code on recycling centers. Efforts are underway to find a permanent solution, but the future of recycling here is uncertain.
The Green Machines already were overflowing every week, when Waste Management announced in January it would charge a $5 recycling fee at its yard on the city's west side to people who weren't already customers. Human nature is human nature, and the imposition of the fee drove even more people to the Green Machines.
That only exacerbated a troubling situation in the grocery parking lot. Even before the fee was announced, the Green Machine dumpsters were filling up every weekend, and a significant number of recyclers who arrived late to the recycling party were leaving bags of recyclables on the pavement, assuming that someone would pick up each bag and cart them away.
The result wasn't just unsightly, it was unacceptable to the operators and to the volunteer board members at the Yampa Valley Sustainability Council and Yampa Valley Recycles.
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They already have put the community on notice that if people continue to leave bags of recyclables on the ground, the service could end sooner than October.
That stance is informed by YVSC's survey that shows large numbers of recyclers here are unaware that curbside recycling comes at no additional charge to garbage pickup in the city of Steamboat Springs. It's been the case since the Steamboat Springs City Council passed an ordinance to that effect in April 2000. But too many people aren't taking advantage of it.
People who don't have that option can conserve space in the recycling dumpster at the grocery parking lot by taking the step of stomping plastic milk and juice jugs flat.
If you choose to continue to bring your recyclables to the Safeway parking lot, keep in mind that Twin Resources will be separating glass and newsprint from the rest of the single-stream recycling. It will save time and effort if individual households store those items separately to begin with. And take a few minutes to flatten cardboard boxes, too.
Recycling is an easy way to feel good about being "green." People with a real commitment to making the Yampa Valley more sustainable will support the effort to transition to a more permanent recycling facility and recycle like they mean it.