Snowmass, landfill formalize recycling contract |

Snowmass, landfill formalize recycling contract

Michael McLaughlin
The Aspen Times
Pitkin County Landfill Manager Cathy Hall is the first woman in the State of Colorado to earn a Solid Waste Management Board Certification from the American Academy of Environmental Engineers and Scientists.
Michael McLaughlin/The Aspen Times |

After more than 15 years of working together with a handshake for a contract, the Pitkin County Solid Waste Center and the town of Snowmass Village Public Works Department will finally have a written agreement to provide recycling and material transfer between the two entities.

During the 2014 changes in recycling operations as the waste center converted to single-stream recycling, the waste center and Snowmass Village staff realized there was no formal contract between the two.

“We literally have never had anything in writing,” said Cathy Hall, solid waste manager at the county landfill. “We realized we needed to have a contract that covers the operations and makes sure that if I leave or Dave Ogren, the solid waste and recycling supervisor for Snowmass, leaves there’s something in writing and this partnership continues.”

The waste center will continue to serve as a transfer point with no weight limits for recyclable materials generated and hauled by Snowmass Village.

Other recycling providers have a 40-ton annual limit on the amount of recycling they can drop off at the landfill.

The waste center has been providing Snowmass with a $10,000 subsidy for its recycling collections. Both parties have agreed to do away with that subsidy. Snowmass will continue to pay the $25-a-ton tip fee for single-stream recycling, and the waste center will continue to subsidize the cost to transfer the recycling materials to the Waste Management material recovery facility in Denver.

Hall said she couldn’t give an exact figure on the subsidy amount for transferring materials to Denver until she has at least one year of data.

The agreement between the waste center and Snowmass will be revisited and potentially renegotiated every five years or in the event recycling at the waste center undergoes a significant change.


Hall is now the first woman in Colorado to earn a Solid Waste Management Board certification from the American Academy of Environmental Engineers and Scientists. She is only the second person in Colorado to receive the distinction.

“We are very proud of Hall’s most recent accomplishment,” Public Works Director Brian Pettet said. “She can add this certification to her impressive quiver of accomplishments at the landfill since she joined us less than two years ago.”

To apply for the award, one requirement was having a degree in an environmental science or engineering. Hall has a Bachelor of Arts and Master of Business Administration degrees in geology, which is an environmental science.

She was then given an oral exam and a two-part written exam and passed them. Hall studied for several months before taking the exams.

“It’s a prestigious organization in the world of environmental engineering and science,” Hall said.

There were some tense moments as Hall had to wait for a letter confirming her test results. When the letter was delivered to the landfill, co-worker Jack Johnson had already grabbed the daily mail and left the landfill for the day.

When Hall learned Johnson had already taken the mail, she texted him at his home, and he confirmed that a letter had arrived from the American Academy of Environmental Engineers and Scientists.

Hall then asked Johnson to open the letter and had to wait another 10 minutes before Johnson replied.

“He said he felt like he was a senior looking for his college acceptance letter,” Hall said. “He then opened the latter, paused, then asked if I really wanted to know the results. Yes, he was teasing me, but then he drove back to landfill and gave me the letter of confirmation.”

Since becoming manager in 2013, Hall has made several significant changes at the landfill. In February, she introduced single-stream recycling at the landfill, which will save more than $250,000 a year. Hall also instituted a septic-waste disposal system at the landfill that’s in the process of being designed, and she expanded the life of the landfill by 10 years with creative use of current landfill space.

She made significant environmental improvements to landfill operations and embraced the Living Lab Workshops in response to inquiries from the public to learn about recycling and organic gardening.

According to Pettet, all those improvements occurred in addition to rekindling relationships with the city of Aspen, waste haulers and other landfill partners.

“It wasn’t easy getting the certification,” Hall admitted. “My background is solid-waste management. I had to study up on the scientific and environmental aspects. All in all, I think it will add credibility to our operation, the team who runs it and our expertise.”

Hall also is a member of the Solid Waste Association of America.


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