ASPEN - Police will keep a closer watch on the recycling drop-off facilities in Aspen and Basalt in response to the dumping of nonrecyclable materials, according to Pitkin County, which manages the sites.
Rotting meat is just one of the inappropriate and somewhat unpleasant items that have been found in downtown recycle containers in recent months, according to the county. Other items that have turned up in recycle bins in both Aspen and Basalt that are not recyclable include cereal boxes, Styrofoam and waxy fruit boxes.
"Sadly, when items like these are stuffed into our recycling containers, they can contaminate the entire container and force us to dump everything into our landfill," said Brian Pettet, county director of public works, in a prepared statement. "The majority of our community puts tremendous effort into recycling. We don't want to see that effort literally go to waste."
Recycling centers in Aspen and Basalt also have become dumping grounds for electronics, worn-out furniture, and yard and hazardous waste, among other things. Items such as these must be properly disposed of at the landfill. Recycling drop-off points are not equipped to manage that kind of solid waste, according to the county.
The county landfill has a recycling program that diverts more than 70 percent of the waste that arrives there, according to Pettet. Not everything is, however, recyclable.
"We understand that recycling can be confusing, but unfortunately we believe there are just a few frequent offenders who are just looking for a convenient place to dump their junk," he said in the statement.
Both the Aspen and Basalt recycling centers are equipped with surveillance equipment. Local police in the two communities are responsible for enforcement of recycling rules and will ticket violators observed on camera. City and county law enforcement officials are stepping up enforcement because of the recent increase in violations, according to the county.
There are resources to help businesses and residents properly dispose of waste and recyclables, said Ashley Perl, Aspen senior environmental health specialist. For example, the city offers regular drop-off days for electronic items and posts information about composting and recycling at www.aspenpitkin.com - look for the "Go Green" tab.
Go to www.aspenpitkin.com/resourcerecovery for a complete list of accepted recyclables and other landfill information.
All Pitkin County households are entitled to a $100 credit at the landfill to accommodate those wishing to get rid of things such as furniture, broken television sets and computers, refrigerators, motor oil, paint, yard waste and other nonrecyclable items.