Aspen hosts recycling conference |

Aspen hosts recycling conference

Katie ReddingThe Aspen TimesAspen, CO Colorado

ASPEN Green is a tough color.Saying that those who would green America must prepare like a Viking walking into battle, the director of environmental affairs for Aspen Skiing Co. spoke about the challenges of environmental stewardship on Monday. Auden Schendler talked to recycling professionals in Aspen for the 2008 Colorado Summit for Recycling. Approximately 165 people spent the past three days discussing recycling and climate change at the St. Regis Resort in Aspen. Schendler has made a name for himself in the business world by helping Skico react creatively to climate change. But on Monday, Schendler also discussed the failures that come with innovation. His first idea compact fluorescent lighting for The Little Nell hotel never got off the ground. Hotel managers worried they might lose their five-star rating if the their lights buzzed and flickered, he said. His proposal to stop buying Kleenex from Kimberly-Clark Corp. met with more success, at least among company executives. Skico boycotted the company because of its treatment of ancient forests. But Schendler said Skico was annihilated in the local press for the decision. Local newspapers saw the decision as greenwashing, he explained. However, Schendler felt the decision had paid off. Concerned about the publicity, the CEO of Kimberly Clark soon called the CEO of Skico. Skico eventually convinced Kimberly-Clark to broach discussions with the National Resources Defense Council and the Sierra Club. Aspen leads the waySkico wasnt the only Aspen entity offering advice to conference attendees. Many also toured the Pitkin County landfill.Because it would be nearly impossible to buy more Pitkin County land for another landfill, the landfill is a recycling leader in Colorado, said Marjorie Griek, executive director of the Colorado Association for Recycling (CAFR). She was particularly impressed with their asphalt, concrete and fill-dirt recycling program. The county expects that program alone to add 3 to 5 years of life to its landfill. Theyre just doing a bang-up job of diverting waste, Griek said. At the request of conference organizers, the St. Regis Resort also worked toward being an environmental leader in time for the summit, said Griek. The hotel recently replaced all of its toilets with more efficient ones and now purchases paper products that use post-consumer waste, according to director of engineering David Twitchell. Next week, theyll put compact fluorescent bulbs in the hallway sconces. Beginning June 1, theyll provide guests the option to not have their sheets and towels washed every night. The changes were driven by the conference, but also the city of Aspens ZGreen program (which certifies businesses for having green practices) and general market pressure, said Twitchell. Whats comingCity of Aspen environmental health program coordinator Jannette Whitcomb was excited about the waste-hauling ideas at this years conference. In Aspen, as in most municipalities, waste haulers pick up unlimited recycling for a set fee. So making profits isnt as straightforward as it is in other businesses. Whitcomb said shell spend some time researching the most innovative strategies, with the hopes of bringing some to Aspen. On the state level, CAFR began discussing legislation for a statewide pay-as-you-throw program at the conference, Griek said. Such a program would charge people according to the amount of trash they toss. It just makes sense, said Griek, pointing out that people pay for other utilities, such as gas and electricity, according to use. She expected the legislation to be introduced next year.Work to be doneDespite a reportedly great conference, CAFR has its work cut out for it. Colorado recycling rates still fall well below the nations average of 33 percent, said Griek. A reputable study hasnt been done, she explained, but some industry professionals quote a number as low as 12 percent. But Schendler had advice for uphill battles in his address. He argued that environmentalists are similar to amateur boxers who end up in the ring with a professional. They have two options, he said: Let the pro beat them up or try to fight anyway. He advocated for the latter tactic. Youre going to get your ass kicked anyway, he said. But at least fighting back is more fun.

This correction was published May 30 in The Aspen Times:A May 21 article by reporter Katie Redding titled Aspen hosts recycling conference, misrepresented an explanation by Marjorie Griek, executive director of the Colorado Assocation for Recycling. It should have made clear that it would be up to the CAFR Policy Committee and Board of Directors to decide what, if any, legislative options would be introduced next legislative session.

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