Yampa Valley Recycles Depot opens Wednesday

Location provides year-round disposal for some hard-to-recycle items

Winn Cowman, the new waste diversion director for the Yampa Valley Sustainability Council, gets a helping hand from her dad, Bud LaFoe, while setting up a scale at the new Yampa Valley Recycles Depot in Steamboat Springs.
John F. Russell/Steamboat Pilot & Today

Proper disposal of many hard-to-recycle items just got easier in the Yampa Valley.

Nonprofit Yampa Valley Sustainability Council, with funding support from the city of Steamboat Springs and Routt County, will open its new Yampa Valley Recycles Depot on Wednesday afternoon at 1801 W. Lincoln Ave., the former location of Windemere Garden Center.

The YVR Depot is intended to serve residents and small businesses. The year-round location takes the place of a decade of annual or bi-annual recycling drop-off events hosted by YVSC with help from sponsors and volunteers. The popular drop-off hosted in local parking lots attracts some 400 to 500 recyclers each event.

Winn Cowman, YVSC waste diversion director, said the items accepted initially at the YVR Depot are based on the most-searched hard-to-recycle items on the Yampa Valley Recycles app. Those items often contain materials that are banned from landfills because they leach toxic contaminants, spark fires or otherwise create nuisance conditions, Cowman said.

“We are trying to simplify recycling, so we are starting with the top five items on the app,” Cowman said. “We are starting with low-hanging fruit, the materials we know we are needing to get rid of.”

In general, the YVR Depot will accept, for set fees, such items as electronics, TVs, light bulbs of all types, batteries (not vehicle), ballasts, printer ink cartridges, mattresses, box springs, mercury containing devices, such as old thermostats and CO and smoke detectors. A complete list of accepted items and recycling prices can be found at

Winn Cowman, new waste diversion director for the Yampa Valley Sustainability Council, sets up boxes at the Yampa Valley Recycles Depot that will be used to store electronics that will be recycled.
John F. Russell/Steamboat Pilot & Today

The facility will be open from noon to 4 p.m. Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays and managed by Cowman along with Dakota Dolan, YVSC waste diversion coordinator. Parking is relatively limited, and recycling customers must carry items into the facility on their own, with wagons available on-site for use.

“Recycling these materials helps to 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 virgin materials,” Cowman explained.

The YVR Depot collection location, which is being leased, is modeled after similar year-round centers, such as in Boulder, Eagle, Garfield, Pitkin and Summit counties.

Hard-to-recycle items, such as electronics and mattresses, are typically disassembled and sorted into various components for recycling, Cowman said. YVSC is working with vendors Brite Ideas Bulb Recycling in Glenwood Springs and nonprofits Blue Star Recyclers and Spring Back Colorado Mattress Recycling. Blue Star in Denver creates jobs for individuals with autism and other disabilities. Spring Back in Commerce City provides employment for disenfranchised men who are in addiction recovery programs.

City of Steamboat Springs Facilities Manager Brian Ashley said he is excited the YVR Depot project is moving forward and hopes this can help increase recycling levels in the city. Ashley hopes other recycling categories will be added in the future such as compostable materials.

Routt County Environmental Health Director Scott Cowman said his department will continue to host a separate household hazardous waste event with the next collection set for October 2022. Residents are recommended to conservatively purchase, hold on to, properly use up or share household hazardous chemicals until that collection. He said household hazardous waste has more difficult requirements for storage, so those items are more challenging to incorporate into Depot collections at this time.

Winn Cowman said recent recycling studies show rural areas, such as Routt County, currently divert only 12% of overall municipal solid waste due in part to long distances to recycling processors and high hauling costs. The national average is 45%, and the state of Colorado has set waste diversion goals of 45% materials recovery by 2036. However, the Routt County Climate Action Plan has a more ambitious goal of increasing community solid waste diversion to 46% by 2030.

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