Aspen achieves 14% recycling rate |

Aspen achieves 14% recycling rate

ASPEN ” Aspen residents and businesses recycle 14 percent of the overall waste produced in the resort, reducing greenhouse gas emissions by 8,703 tons in the process, according to a review of the city’s stepped-up recycling requirements.

A four-page report, detailing the impact of a waste reduction/recycling ordinance adopted in the fall of 2005, was released Tuesday.

The ordinance requires the curbside pickup of recyclables as part of trash service for all residential, commercial and multi-family customers; it also outlawed the disposal of yard waste with trash.

Cardboard made up nearly half of all the recyclables diverted from the waste stream (49 percent), according to the city report, followed by co-mingled glass, plastic and cans (29 percent), newspaper (20 percent), magazines (2 percent) and office paper (1 percent).

The collection figures include the recyclables picked up by haulers, plus items dropped off at the city’s Rio Grande recycling center. Aspen’s 14 percent recycling rate is slightly above the state average of about 12.5 percent, but well below the national average of close to 30 percent. Without a study before the initiative began, the city has no way to calculate any change in the local recycling rate that resulted from the ordinance, according to the report.

In addition to the collection of recyclable materials, the city collected more than 40 tons of grass and leaves at its recycle center by the end of last fall, according to the report.

While the overall effect of the recycling initiative was a savings of 8,703 tons of greenhouse gas emissions associated with global warming, the effort did increase trash hauling by 1.7 truck trips per day, according to the city.

And, while the initiative apparently created cost savings for some customers ” at least one building complex has saved $594 a month as a result of recycling efforts, a medium/large mixed-use building including a restaurant saw a cost increase of $240 per month, split between multiple businesses, according to the report. Costs for a small/medium Aspen office for the pickup of cardboard and other recyclables once a month amount to $55 a month; a restaurant mixed with other small businesses incurred increased costs of $95 per month.

A small apartment complex that added the pickup of cardboard to other materials that were already being picked up saw a $20-per-month increase ” or about $1.25 per unit.

The report can be found on the web at

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