Yampa Valley Recycle Depot proves value, becomes year-round fixture in Steamboat
A pilot program that began in December 2021 to provide a year-round location for citizens to drop off hard-to-recycle items ranging from electronics to mattresses has proven its necessity in the Yampa Valley, organizers say.
“The success of the facility has shown there is a great need for a facility like this in the Yampa Valley, and we hope to see it grow and expand in the items that we can accept,” said Winn Cowman, waste diversion director at the nonprofit Yampa Valley Sustainability Council. “There is a great need in the Yampa Valley and beyond for this service, and a long-term facility is needed.”
The Yampa Valley Recycles Depot — open from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. on Monday, Wednesday and Friday — is at 2851 Riverside Plaza, across the parking lot from Steamboat Powersports. The depot accepts eight categories of items in the small facility, including items that are illegal to throw in the trash.
On April 1, the depot will become a third location in Steamboat Springs to drop off paints and stains as part of the state-level PaintCare program due to the high volume of demand, said Conner Byrnes, YVSC zero waste program and waste diversion technician.
Electronics, liquid paint products and lead acid batteries are prohibited from landfill disposal in Colorado, Cowman noted, and other items such as lightbulbs, non-lead acid batteries, thermostats, ballasts and carbon monoxide detectors contain small amounts of hazardous chemicals and precious metals that can be recycled.
Items can leach toxic contaminants or spark fires in a landfill, Cowman said, and recycling these materials helps protect public health and the environment by keeping them out of landfills and reduces greenhouse gas emissions by reusing in lieu of mining and harvesting new materials.
The collection numbers in the first year of depot operations surpassed the usual one-day drop-off events hosted by the nonprofit, which required a large amount of annual coordination, volunteers and often long waits for customers during those events. Organizers counted 938 vehicles lined up for the one-day drop-off event in October 2020.
“I’m pleased because we have more materials than we did for a one-day event, and people don’t have to hold onto items for months waiting for a one-time event,” Cowman said.
In 2022, 1,466 people came to the Yampa Valley Recycles Depot to recycle 42,537 pounds of electronics, 3,949 light bulbs, 615 ballasts, 2,682 pounds of batteries, 313 mattresses, 383 pounds printer cartridges, 24 thermostats and 95 carbon monoxide or smoke detectors. Currently, the depot is accepting mattresses for recycling by appointment only.
Cowman said the recycling depot is co-sponsored financially by Steamboat Springs and Routt County as a break-even operation that charges limited fees for recycling items. The operational costs include facility rent, labor, and shipping and recycling fees for vendors on the Front Range or in Glenwood Springs.
Residents from Moffat County also have utilized the recycling depot, Byrnes said. He noted that depot customers often ask about how to drop off household hazardous waste liquids, which are not collected at the depot but are collected by Routt County Environmental Health Department during an annual drop-off day usually hosted in the Steamboat Springs Middle School parking lot in October.
Other hard-to-recycle items that are not accepted at the depot may be collected or donated at other businesses or nonprofit locations throughout the Yampa Valley, with locations found on the Yampa Valley Recycles app or online at YVSC.org/yampa-valley-recycles-web-app.
Cowman said many people also ask about recycling of construction and demolition reusable materials, so she reminded residents about the Yampa Valley Construction Salvage Facebook that YVSC started in early 2020 and now has about 1,000 members. Current listings on the Facebook group range from a table saw to track lighting, a ceramic sink and horse barn stalls.
To reach Suzie Romig, call 970-871-4205 or email sromig@SteamboatPilot.com.
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