Yampa Valley Recycles Depot well-received, used by hundreds
8,600 pounds of e-waste collected so far
Carting in items ranging from giant, aging televisions to mattresses, almost 300 people have taken advantage of the Yampa Valley Recycles Depot on West Lincoln Avenue since the facility opened Dec. 1.
“The majority of the comments we are getting are positive, and people are really happy to have this facility in our community,” said Winn Cowman, waste diversion director at the nonprofit Yampa Valley Sustainability Council. “They’re excited to have a year-round option to take their materials and not have to hold on to them for six to 12 months.”
Instead of storing hard-to-recycle items waiting for a community drop-off event or trying to find a mix of local and regional places to recycle items, area residents and businesses can recycle many items from noon to 4 p.m. on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays at the YVR Depot, 1801 Lincoln Ave.
In almost three months, the depot has received 8,614 pounds of electronics, 729 pounds of batteries, 577 light bulbs and 25 mattresses. The site has served 282 community members.
In general, the depot will accept — for set fees — electronics, TVs, phones, light bulbs of all types, batteries, ballasts, printer ink cartridges, mattresses, box springs, mercury-containing devices such as old thermostats, and CO and smoke detectors. More information is available at YVSC.org/DepotInfo.
“We do feel like this is tackling a really big portion of what people have been looking for,” said Dakota Dolan, YVSC zero waste coordinator, as she sorted small electronics a Routt County resident brought in for recycling Monday afternoon, Feb. 28.
Dolan said that when the depot initially opened, 20 to 30 people dropped off items each afternoon. Since then, the numbers have declined to a slow stream.
“We’ve had a lot of positive feedback, and I think it’s going to get busier and busier when the weather warms up,” Dolan said.
Dolan said some residents without traditional co-mingled recycling have stopped by hoping to drop off standard recyclables. Co-mingled traditional recycling is not accepted at the depot, but the Waste Management transfer station on Downhill Drive in Steamboat accepts co-mingled recycling for a $13 minimum charge for three bags or 96 gallons, said Nate Burns, Waste Management senior account executive for Steamboat.
Lacie Coupe, assistant general manager at Twin Enviro Services, said all Twin Enviro trash customers, including apartment and condo residents, can recycle co-mingled standard items for free at the Milner Landfill. People who are not Twin Enviro customers are charged $5 for a large bag or $20 for a carload of co-mingled recycling.
In terms of fees, Cowman said the nonprofit effort tries to break even while providing a convenient local drop-off location. The costs to accommodate the materials include the site lease, staff labor and payment to contracted recyclers to pick up and transport items to urban recycling facilities.
The depot offers a 50-cent donation program, in which each recycler can opt to give toward low-income vouchers to help recyclers in need of financial support.
With overall waste diversion in mind, Cowman and Dolan encourage residents bringing in functioning televisions, speakers and stereos to try first to donate those working items through local Facebook groups or to regional thrift stores that may accept them.
Electronics, or e-waste, from both residential and commercial sources are banned by Colorado law from disposal in landfills, as the items often contain hazardous or toxic materials, as well as valuable metals that can be recycled.
Cowman noted the depot is still a pilot program in a temporary location with funding support from the city of Steamboat Springs and Routt County, so community input is requested.
“We are gathering a ton of data. It is a pilot to determine if it makes sense to have a facility like this long term,” Cowman said.
The waste diversion director encouraged interested residents to review the city of Steamboat Springs recycling study completed in January and posted on the city website. The study addresses potential improvements for optimizing the current waste management system by increasing recycling incentives, hauler accountability and generator responsibility in a practical and effective manner.
To reach Suzie Romig, call 970-871-4205 or email sromig@SteamboatPilot.com.
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