Steamboat to explore banning plastic containers in parks, other measures to incentivize recycling
Steamboat Springs City Council has made it a priority to explore measures that will promote greater recycling in the city, following initial discussions last week.
City Council members broached the topic of local recycling during their regular meeting Tuesday, when they opted to prohibit alcohol consumption at certain city parks. To go along with the city’s alcohol ban, council members initially suggested the city also ban plastic alcohol containers in parks.
Steamboat City Manager Gary Suiter said, however, that differentiating between plastic and nonplastic would be incredibly difficult to enforce.
“If you’re going to ban plastic and liquor in parks, that puts it upon a police officer to go up to a private party and say, ‘OK, let’s inventory what’s in your cooler,’” Suiter told council Tuesday.
Suiter instead suggested the city consider a separate ban on plastic containers, which would go beyond its alcohol ordinance.
In addition to a potential ban on plastics in parks, the city plans to explore other ideas that would motivate citizens and businesses to recycle.
The city, in conjunction with the Yampa Valley Sustainability Council, set out to identify issues with local recycling and how Steamboat’s recycling compared with other Colorado mountain towns.
Laurie Batchelder Adams, president of Denver-based recycling feasibility company LBA Associates, was tasked with developing a study to examine how many local people actively recycle. But she said the data has been difficult to gather, a result of COVID-19 and an unwillingness or inability of trash haulers to provide accurate information.
Batchelder Adams did say, however, that one issue is that much of the city’s recyclable materials has to be transported to Broomfield. That, she said, inherently increases the carbon footprint for a vehicle having to drive over three hours from Steamboat to Broomfield.
Other issues, she explained, included recyclables and regular waste being mixed, as well as recycling bins not requiring bear-proof containers — they are not supposed to include food waste but often do.
To solve some of these issues, Batchelder Adams suggested a pay-as-you-throw model, which would involve households being charged for how much they waste, rather than paying a flat fee for a dumpster regardless of use. The program is used in over 2,000 communities across the country and encourages residents to reduce their waste, she said.
Other ways to improve local recycling that Steamboat Springs City Council is expected to explore include:
• Requiring quarterly hauler reporting with city enforcement.
• Requiring haulers to provide volume-based trash fees with variable pricing for bundled trash and recycling to residents, also known as pay as you throw.
• Requiring haulers to provide recycling to multifamily units bundled with trash pricing.
• Requiring haulers to provide recycling to commercial businesses bundled with trash pricing.
• Establishing a recycling drop facility in partnership with Routt County and the Yampa Valley Sustainability Council.
• Requiring recycling at special events.
• Requiring new and renovated buildings to include equal space for recycling.
While council generally supported exploring the idea, council member Heather Sloop, who represents the series of multifamily homes in the area of Steamboat Resort, said she had concerns as to how that model would work when a dumpster is shared between multiple households.
“I’m looking at Shadow Run, Whistler Village and some of these others, and I’m looking at that going, ‘OK, how would that work?’” Sloop said.
Council President Robin Crossan, who also works as an ambassador for Steamboat Resort, said guests frequently ask why their lodging doesn’t offer recycling. She believed that to be an issue.
“Guests from other parts of our country and world want us to recycle,” Crossan said. “We should be doing it, not only for them but for us and for the rest of the country and the planet.”
Council made no motions Tuesday related to the issue and expects to continue the conversation on recycling at its Dec. 4 retreat.
To reach Alison Berg, call 970-871-4229 or email aberg@SteamboatPilot.com.
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With abnormally low snow levels, most of the snow skiers and snowboarders will encounter Saturday during Steamboat Resort’s Opening Day will be manufactured.