City commission trashes recycling plan | AspenTimes.com

City commission trashes recycling plan

Janet Urquhart

A handful of business owners continued to blast the city Wednesday for pushing forward a recycling initiative without addressing the potential consequences or costs to be borne by the business community.Members of the Commercial Core and Lodging Commission reiterated their gripes with the initiative in a sometimes testy exchange with Environmental Health Department staffers who brought the initiative forward at the City Council’s direction. The lodging commission again urged the city to postpone implementing a recycling ordinance until its concerns are addressed.Garbage haulers, meanwhile, voiced their own reservations about the initiative but said they are preparing to work with it if it goes into effect as planned in November. The council is scheduled to take up the ordinance again on Sept. 26.The initiative, which is expected to boost participation in recycling, requires the base rate haulers charge to both residential and commercial customers for trash service to include the pickup of recycling. The ordinance won’t apply to customers until their current contract with a hauler expires.Lodging commission members Terry Butler and Stan Hajenga, both downtown hotel operators, again said the city has failed to address the increased noise that will result from additional truck traffic in the alleyways, as haulers pick up both garbage and various containers of recyclable materials.”I’ve had people move out because of the trash – the steel-on-steel noise,” Butler said. She suggested the city require centralized trash compactors in its downtown alleyways before tackling recycling.”There’s hardly a day that goes by that I don’t get a complaint from a guest,” Hajenga added.Restaurant owner and lodging commission Chairman Bill Dinsmoor has long maintained that the business community has no idea what’s coming or what it will cost to fold recycling into the rate for garbage pickup.Last month, Mayor Helen Klanderud argued it’s time for Aspen to put its money where its mouth is, when it comes to environmental efforts. She advocated passage of the recycling ordinance.”The mayor is putting our money where her mouth is,” Dinsmoor said.Environmental health staffers are compiling information about the costs associated with similar recycling initiatives in other communities.Local haulers, meanwhile, are working on their own rate structures to reflect the pending recycling mandate but are keeping their numbers close to their chests, since they’re competing with one another.Businesses that currently pay for trash pickup but haul their recyclables to the drop-off site at Rio Grande Park will likely see the biggest jump in rates, said Wally Graham, owner of Waste Solutions. Other businesses that already pay for recycling pickup won’t see big changes, he said.From the haulers’ perspective, the initiative means a capital investment in order to provide containers for the various recyclables, said David Sanders of Rocky Mountain Disposal.Haulers will also have to check recycling containers to make sure they’re not contaminated with garbage, said Herman Aardsma, Waste Management district manager.”There’s certain things in here that put a lot of onus on the hauler,” he said.The haulers predicted more trucks, containers and work.Dinsmoor predicted that the resulting costs would be passed to customers.Since the ordinance doesn’t make recycling mandatory – people can still throw recyclables out with their trash – Sanders also questioned the initiative’s effectiveness.”It has to be mandatory for it to work,” he said.Lodging commission members suggested the city start with just cardboard recycling, as cardboard is a large-volume material that could be diverted from the local landfill.One hauler suggested shared compactors in the commercial core – for trash, cardboard and co-mingled bottles and cans – could streamline recycling, but the compactors, too, come at a cost to customers.Former lodging commission member Andrew Kole argued the city should take a closer look at “single-stream” recycling – in which all the material goes in one container and is sorted elsewhere. Currently, the only mechanized sorting operation in Colorado recently began in Denver, according to Aardsma.Setting up such a sorting operation in Pitkin County would require what has been estimated as a $5 million to $6 million piece of equipment, according to Lee Cassin, environmental health director.”Single stream is out in the future. It’s not something we can make happen,” she said.Janet Urquhart’s e-mail address is janet@aspentimes.com

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