Carbondale updates trash rules, picks single hauler

Thomas Phippen
Glenwood Springs Post Independent
Dionicio Clemente conducts trash collection for Waste Management in Carbondale's Thompson Corner neighborhood on August 29, 2018.
John Stroud/Post Independent

Carbondale has been talking trash for years, and leaders hope the new system coming in September will encourage residents to produce less garbage and to stop feeding the bears.

The Carbondale Board of Trustees this week selected Mountain Waste & Recycling, Inc., as the single waste hauler for most residential areas. Trustees also passed an ordinance to tighten rules on trash practices — including mandating bear-resistant containers in certain cases.

“We’ve all been talking about this for probably about a year-and-a-half now, so what you’re seeing before you tonight is kind of the culmination” of the processes, Carbondale Public Works Director Kevin Schorzman said at the Tuesday town board meeting.

The town also received a proposal from Waste Management, but selected Mountain Waste to provide curbside trash pickup services, town facilities waste hauling, and run seasonal yard waste drop-off sites.

For residential collection, Mountain Waste’s prices were around 6 percent lower.

When service kicks off at the end of September, the trash service fee will be added to the water service bill.

Carbondale started the trash discussion several years ago after one fall season that saw a record number of bears feasting on trash in the community.

The goals of moving to a single hauler were to decrease the amount of trash the town sent to a landfill, cut back on the traffic associated with multiple trash haulers, and reduce the wildlife feeding off the town’s rubbish.

The contract and new ordinance aims to help reduce that by mandating bear-proof containers, at $10 extra per month under the current contract, for households that habitually leave trash on the street.

Another problem the town hopes to solve with the new contract and tiered volumetric pricing is public dumping in street and park trash cans.

“If you talk to our crew come summer when we’re emptying trash cans three to five days a week in parks and Main Street, they’re quite regularly stuffed with household trash. It’s amazing what people go through to save trash pickup, and I think some of these programs that we’ve built into this will help reduce that,” Town Manager Jay Harrington said.

The town and Mountain Waste will begin outreach in both English and Spanish to educate the community on the various options. Households will have to select a service level in June for the pickup that begins in September.

Some neighborhoods with homeowners associations have contracts with other haulers, and will be phased in to the Mountain Waste service as contracts expire.

The volumetric pricing ranges from the “super saver” option, a 32-gallon trash container and medium recycling collected every other week, to a 96-gallon trash can, collected weekly and a large recycling container picked up ever other week.

Prices will range from under $15 to more than $50 per month, including the town’s 17.5 percent administration fee.

The default service, however, is the 64-gallon medium trash can picked up weekly and a medium recycling container collected biweekly for about $30.

Mountain Waste will provide bear-proof containers for an additional $10 per month.

The ordinance passed Tuesday night makes bear containers mandatory after a household’s third violation of the town’s trash storage code. According to the updated code, standard trash cans may only be placed on the street between 6 a.m. and 8 p.m. on the day of collection. Bear-proof containers can go out at 5 p.m. the day before collection.

The first violation of the code incurs a $100 fine, which can be waived by purchasing a bear-proof can. The second violation is a $250 fine, the third, a $500 fine, after which the offending household will be automatically signed up and billed for a bear-proof container.

Trash talk in Carbondale won’t end with the board’s decision on the contractor. Town staff and Mountain Waste will spend the next several months communicating the various service levels so residents can make an informed choice.

During the first 60 days of service, residents will have the option to change levels once without incurring additional fees,