City Council wants to boost recycling efforts | AspenTimes.com
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City Council wants to boost recycling efforts

Janet Urquhart

Steps to boost recycling in Aspen – whether it’s special receptacles on the malls or stiffer regulations for trash haulers – won endorsement from the City Council Tuesday, but members stopped short of committing more dollars to the cause.The financial decisions will have to wait until the council’s budget deliberations this fall and members conceded they may not be able to move on every recycling idea at once.”To me, this is very important,” said Mayor Helen Klanderud.”Government always has money for what’s important to it,” she continued. “We need to prioritize. We need to be cautious in our spending, but we need to put our money where our mouth is. If this is where our mouth is, we need to put our money here.””I think it’s a snowball that we need to get rolling down the hill,” said Councilman Torre.”I’m for whatever makes it happen.”The city’s Environmental Health Department suggested the city tackle several programs first: working with downtown businesses and restaurants to recycle cardboard and glass – two biggies that can be removed from the waste stream; facilitating a voluntary backyard composting program for yard waste; placing recycling receptacles at city parks and trails (and later expand it onto the malls); and work with Pitkin County to impose new rules for trash haulers.Private trash haulers could be required to include curbside pickup in their base rate for garbage collection, though they could up their rates to provide the service. The county already requires volume-based pricing by trash haulers, but the base volume is too high to entice customers to reduce their trash volume by recycling, according to city staffers. That volume could be adjusted downward.A half-time employee for the next three years would be needed to get the recommended programs running quickly, said Jannette Whitcomb, senior environmental health specialist for the city. And, 86 recycling containers – one next to each trash can at parks, trails and the golf course – would cost $94,600.”I think we’re going to have to start a lot slower and grow – maybe we don’t have one at every single trash container,” said Councilwoman Rachel Richards.Five containers to collect cans and bottles at special events – like the ones used during the Fanny Hill concerts in Snowmass Village this summer – would cost $250 total. Klanderud endorsed that investment.”Certainly at our own events, like the community picnic coming up, we should be doing recycling,” Klanderud said.Torre said he’d like to see the recycling receptacles on the malls.”That’s a big one for me,” he said. “I’d like to send the message that, yes, recycling is a priority for us.”Council members didn’t want to hear why cardboard can’t be collected for recycling at the Aspen Recreation Center, even if employees have to transport the material to the recycling center next to Rio Grande Park.”I would say it’s doable. Do it,” said Councilman Tim Semrau.Recyclables collected locally go to the Pitkin County landfill as the first stop on their way to various sites for reuse or recycling into new product materials. The county subsidizes the program by about $500,000 per year, but the efforts help extend the life of the landfill, said Becky Moller, county natural resources specialist.Janet Urquhart’s e-mail address is janet@aspentimes.com


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