Guest commentary: Pitkin County’s new waste, recycling ordinance has started
January 28, 2019
The last time the county updated the waste and recycling ordinance was in 1991, a time when Pearl Jam, Nirvana and REM topped the music charts, cellphones were not a thing, we watched movies on a VCR, the internet was just going mainstream and the Soviet Union was beginning to break up. Needless to say, a lot has changed since 1991, and that includes trash and recycling.
We have spent the past year and a half updating the county's waste ordinance, which included forming a stakeholder group with neighboring communities, meetings with the valley's haulers and public outreach.
The most notable change is now residents of unincorporated Pitkin County will have an option on the size of their trash container. Customers of curbside trash service can choose from a 96-gallon, 64-gallon and 32-gallon container. Curbside recycling will be included in your trash bill, haulers must provide a recycling container equal to at least half the size of your trash can. If you are big into recycling and composting, you can potentially reduce your trash can size and reduce your trash bill along with it.
Nationwide data show communities with mandatory curbside recycling have the highest diversion rates. We are at a critical juncture for solid waste management in the county, our landfill is filling up fast, and we need to find a way to make it easier for residents and businesses to divert waste.
Residents are not the only ones affected; businesses will be required to provide recycling collection in the same area they have trash cans. Composting isn't mandatory but is encouraged; there are companies in the valley that provide curbside compost collection. We have a successful commercial scale compost facility located at the Solid Waste Center.
The goal of the new ordinance is to increase diversion and allow the county to collect vital data on trash and recycling. We need to know what is working and what is not in regards to diversion. Pitkin County ranks third in the state in respect to diversion rates; I suspect we will be higher once we learn what the haulers are collecting that is not coming to the Pitkin County Solid Waste Center.
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Haulers have until July to fully implement the new waste and recycling ordinance. We also will be rolling out an outreach campaign on the ordinance and holding outreach workshops on how you can reduce your trash and divert more.
For more information, contact your hauler or visit landfillrules.com. For questions regarding the new ordinance, contact the Solid Waste Center at wasteandrecycling email@example.com or call 970-429-2882. You also can stop in and ask us questions, and while you are here, recycle that old VCR, as well.
Cathy Hall is the manager of the Pitkin County Solid Waste Center.