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It will soon cost some cash to recycle trash

Jeremy Heiman

Waste Management, one of the largest trash haulers locally and nationally, will begin charging for curbside recycling in the near future.

Herman Aardsma, district manager for Waste Management, said a $5 charge will be instituted soon. Customers will receive a letter within the next couple weeks informing them of the change.

“What I want to do is provide the service to people who really are interested in recycling,” Aardsma said. He said charging all customers for recycling won’t necessarily get more people to recycle.

Aardsma said the move is being made because Waste Management loses money picking up and hauling recyclable materials.

“Since we don’t receive any revenue from the recycling, that was our only option,” he said. Customers who have signed up for Waste Management pickup since the beginning of the year are already paying the added fee for recycling.

Miles Stotts, Pitkin County’s solid waste manager, said it’s not wrong for Waste Management to charge for recycling, because there’s a cost involved. But he said it’s important that the trash hauler charges by volume for trash pickup, so there’s an incentive for customers to separate out their recyclables. The more stuff they recycle, he said, the less they have to pay for trash pickup.

Aardsma confirmed that Waste Management does charge by volume, with separate rates for one garbage can, two cans, or more per pickup day. More and more communities are adopting volume-based pricing, or “pay-as-you-throw” pricing for trash pickup, Stotts said.

Aardsma, who’s been involved in recycling for 12 years, took over as local manager of Waste Management last December. He wants to see whether people will pay for recycling.

“Once people see what the cost of recycling is, they may start buying products that are made of recycled materials,” he said. This would bring up the price paid for recyclable materials, making it more worthwhile to recycle, he explained.

“We as consumers don’t always look at what’s recycled. We just buy what’s cheaper,” he said.

Waste Management picks up newspapers, aluminum and tin cans, but doesn’t pick up glass, plastic bottles or corrugated cardboard, all materials the Pitkin County Landfill receives without charging a tipping fee. Those materials are not taken because they take up too much space in the company’s trucks, necessitating too many trips to the landfill, Aardsma said. But the company’s drivers don’t reject customer recyclables if they include glass and plastic bottles, he said.

Judging from comments Stotts has received, customer demand exists for curbside recycling of glass and plastic. “I get more complaints about that than anything else,” Stotts said.

The public response to the $5 fee will help the company decide whether there’s enough interest to justify picking up additional materials, Aardsma said.

Henry Fox, a local manager at BFI, another large waste hauler, said his company currently has no plans to charge for recycling.


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