City ready to adopt recycling ordinance | AspenTimes.com

City ready to adopt recycling ordinance

Janet Urquhart

Paul Conrad/The Aspen Times

New rules that will force Aspen residents and businesses to pay for the pickup of recyclables along with their trash appear destined for approval, though the City Council delayed action Monday.The council voted 3-2 to continue action on the initiative to Sept. 26, with two members dissenting because they wanted to approve the ordinance Monday.In the works for about a year, the ordinance will prohibit yard waste in trash and require private garbage haulers to include the pickup of recyclables in the base price for trash hauling.The new law doesn’t outlaw the disposing of recyclable materials in the trash, but since residents and businesses will be paying to have them picked up separately, it’s presumably an incentive to recycle. In addition, garbage pickup charges are based on volume so, theoretically, the more recyclables, the less the customer pays for the garbage piece of the service.The most strenuous objections to the ordinance came from members of the Commercial Core and Lodging Commission. They guessed the added cost to the business community could run in the hundreds of thousands of dollars – maybe $1 million.”This is going to create huge capital outlay – either for the haulers or the customers,” agreed Jim Smith, vice president of the Colorado market area of Waste Management, one of the garbage haulers in town. “And if it’s a huge capital outlay for the haulers, it’s eventually going to be paid for by the customers.”Most business owners don’t know even know the recycling initiative is coming, added restaurant owner Bill Dinsmoor, CCLC chairman, urging the council to hold off on the ordinance’s passage.”I’m the only lodge guy I know that has read the ordinance,” said CCLC member Stan Hajenga, general manager of the Mountain Chalet. “Business owners don’t know what’s going on. I think this going forward now would be a disservice to them.””Our membership is basically uninformed on this issue,” said Rick Jones, chairman of the Aspen Chamber Resort Association board of directors. “I personally agree with the CCLC. I think this needs to be presented at large to the business community.”The ordinance, however, isn’t scheduled to go into effect until mid-November and won’t impact existing contracts with garbage haulers. That gives the city time to educate the community and work with businesses on a coordinated approach to implementing recycling in the downtown alleyways, council members reasoned.They agreed to a month’s delay to explore several issues, though, including the potential added cost to customers who contract for trash pickup.”We’re not going to get a perfect ordinance. I think we need to pull the trigger here,” said Councilman J.E. DeVilbiss.”The bottom line for me is the landfill,” said Councilman Jack Johnson. “I understand the more we recycle, the longer that dump’s going to last.”Garbage disposal costs are likely to jump for everybody when the Pitkin County Landfill is full, he noted. It’s currently expected to last for another 15 to 20 years.Mayor Helen Klanderud decried what she called “a decreasing environmental ethic in this community” as evidenced by the trash that gets dumped in the recycling center at Rio Grande Park and the careless co-mingling of recyclables with stuff that doesn’t belong there.”At some point, you’ve got to put your money where your mouth is,” she said. “You can’t just talk about how green we are … and not do anything with it.”In other Colorado communities that have instituted recycling as part of the base rate for residential garbage pickup, participation in recycling has jumped dramatically, noted Jannette Murison, the city’s senior environmental health specialist.Aspen’s ordinance would be groundbreaking in that it would apply to commercial customers, as well.”The most important and the biggest piece is commercial recycling,” Murison said.Janet Urquhart’s e-mail address is janet@aspentimes.com