Talking Green: Recycling drop-off is tip of the iceberg | SteamboatToday.com

Talking Green: Recycling drop-off is tip of the iceberg

Cameron Hawkins
For Steamboat Pilot & Today

STEAMBOAT SPRINGS — Start setting aside your old electronics, lightbulbs, mattresses and more because Yampa Valley Sustainability Council's Recycling Drop-Off is coming up Oct. 27. While this event is a great opportunity to help locals keep waste out of the landfill, we know our community wants to — and can — do more.

Environmental sustainability is important to the citizens of Routt County. The Routt County Vision 2030 report identified sustainability as a core community value, and this sentiment is also echoed in the city of Steamboat Springs' vision.

How we manage our natural resources and waste are critical to meeting our community goals for an economically, culturally and environmentally sustainable future, both locally and in Colorado as a whole.

In 2017, the Colorado Solid and Hazardous Waste Commission approved the state's first-ever waste diversion goals, aiming to increase recycling and composting over the next 20 years. Colorado's current municipal waste diversion rate is only 12 percent, far below the national average of 35 percent. The new goal for Colorado is 45 percent recovery by 2036. It is anticipated that within the next few years, local municipalities will be required to develop and implement strategies to meet this goal.

In response to both the state goal and strong community support to improve recycling and composting, Yampa Valley Sustainability Council formed a comprehensive group of community stakeholders to develop a Waste Diversion Strategic Plan for Routt County. At the same time, a Northwest Colorado Regional Waste Diversion Study was recently completed and identified opportunities to improve waste diversion on  regional and local levels.

Since January, community stakeholders have been meeting monthly to identify and discuss opportunities to expand waste diversion options in Routt County. These stakeholders represent a broad coalition of community members and interests, including representatives from Routt County, city of Steamboat Springs, Steamboat Ski and Resort Corp., all three waste haulers, nonprofits, businesses, the oil and gas industry, as well as concerned citizens, high school students and others.

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Six waste diversion priorities were identified by the group: curbside recycling; organics recovery; business waste diversion; construction materials; a year-round one-stop-drop location; and education/events. Once the strategic plan is complete, task forces will form to address the priorities individually. There is great enthusiasm for all the priority areas, especially organics recovery with the loss of local curbside food waste composting in 2017.

The strategic plan is far from complete, and we need your input. There are several ways to get involved.

Attend YVSC's Talking Green event at 6:30 p.m. Wednesday, Oct. 10 at Bud Werner Memorial Library to hear national Zero Waste leader Kate Bailey from Eco-Cycle in Boulder talk about how increasing waste diversion is one of the easiest ways to fight climate change. Following Bailey's presentation, there will be an opportunity to learn more about the strategic plan and provide feedback.

Visit http://www.yvsc.org/wastediversionstrategicplan to read more about the plan and provide feedback online.

Cameron Hawkins is Yampa Valley Sustainability Council’s waste diversion director.

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