Recycling in Steamboat: Everyone is Responsible
- Recycling is collapsing in the U.S. due to public confusion about recycling.
- U.S. recycling levels are currently 21.4% (recent EPA funded Yale University Study)
- When U.S. recycling levels reach 75% it will be the environmental and CO2 equivalent of removing 55 million cars from U.S. roads each year.
- When U.S. recycling levels reach 75% it will generate 1.5 million new jobs in the U.S. (net).
- Manufacturers truly want these materials back to reuse in their manufacturing, but they aren't able to reuse the materials if people don't recycle right.
- The nonprofit standardized label mission is the #1 solution to help society begin to recycle right and therefore, help recycling begin to thrive.
It’s up to every resident and visitor to preserve this beautiful environment for future generations
By Lauren Glendenning
Brought to you by Aces High Garbage and Waste Services
In an environment as beautiful as the Yampa Valley and Steamboat Springs, keeping trash out of the landfill isn’t just a priority, it’s a responsibility.
By reducing, reusing and recycling, residents and visitors to the Yampa Valley contribute to its beauty, economy and sustainability. These reasons are why Joe O’Brian has made educating the community about the importance of recycling one of his business’s top missions, in addition to providing services that make it easier for the community to do their part.
“Tourists who come to Steamboat are used to highly established recycling programs, and they expect the same when they visit any resort community,” O’Brian, who owns Aces High Garbage and Waste Services, said. “We need to do a better job of educating the public on what happens after the put trash or recycling into the bin.”
Coloradans might place a high value on conservation, but more than 40 percent of residents in the state do not recycle regularly, according to the 2017 The State of Recycling in Colorado report. One of the largest barriers is a lack of curbside recycling availability, the report states.
O’Brian said the Steamboat community’s general awareness of recycling options could stand to improve. He’s hoping that by partnering with nonprofits such as the Yampa Valley Sustainability Council and Friends of the Yampa, sustainability knowledge and practices will increase.
Here are some of the things you should consider when recycling in Steamboat Springs.
Steamboat Springs is a relatively remote location in terms of proximity to major recycling centers in Grand Junction or Denver. O’Brian said this presents unique challenges and forces the community to think outside the box.
“It’s our responsibility to do what we can to keep trash out of the landfill,” he said. “While it can be logistically challenging to recycle, we are finding innovative solutions.”
Recycling isn’t just about putting recyclable materials into the correct bins, either. It can also mean simplifying you life by reusing materials and products in the home, and buying less.
When recyclables are put into the wrong container, this can cause what’s known as recycling contamination. Essentially, it creates more sorting work, and sometimes it can even mean that every single item in the bin heads to the landfill rather than to the recycling facility.
“We always deal with contamination of recyclable materials,” O’Brian said. “We’re trying to push information out to customers, and we’re going into the schools to talk to kids about recycling. By pushing education, we’re hoping to eliminate these contamination issues.”
Think about the entire process
O’Brian said he understands that most people don’t think about trash the way Aces High does, which is why he feels a responsibility to the community to share that knowledge.
“Most people just throw their trash into a bin and expect it to go away,” he said. “In reality, that’s just the beginning of the process.”
Sorting out different materials is very labor intensive on the back end. Aces High’s recycling heads to Alpine Waste & Recycling in Denver, where employees have to sort through the recycling by hand to pick out the items that aren’t recyclable.
“If we can get it sorted better from the customer, we can eliminate a lot of this time-consuming labor,” O’Brian said. “Think about these steps — what can you do as a consumer to make it better.”
The right thing to do
The diversion rate in Routt County is 24 percent, meaning it diverts about 24 percent of waste from heading to the landfill. Summit County diverts 23 percent, Eagle County diverts 17 percent, and Pitkin County diverts 40 percent, according to the State of Recycling report.
O’Brian said Steamboat and the surrounding communities should be among the communities with the highest diversion rates in Colorado. He hopes that by offering convenient services at Aces High, and by educating the community, this number will grow.
“We’re looking at ways to incentivize businesses to help motivate our commercial customers to do better job at recycling,” he said. “It’s best for the environment, best for our community — it’s just the right thing to do.”
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