County mulls solutions to reduce trash costs, concerns
September 15, 2017
Grand County is considering options to reduce the cost of the collection and disposal of garbage and recycling in the county, a reaction to prohibitively high costs related to the disposal of construction materials.
Grand County Commissioner Richard Cimino raised the issue in the most recent meeting of the Board of County Commissioners, initiating a lengthy process of determining the best course of action to mitigate costs and emphasize recycling.
"During construction, or if builders ever have to tear down a structure, the disposal costs are just exorbitantly high because we don't have a landfill in our county," said Cimino.
The county previously had two landfills, one in Granby and Kremmling, but both were closed in 2010. The Trash Company opened the Granby Transfer Station that year, and is currently one of the preeminent garbage collection and disposal businesses in the county.
Grand County's garbage is currently hauled to the Front Range Landfill located in Erie, over 100 miles away.
Cimino said that The Trash Company isn't to blame for the high costs, but rather it is the extreme distances.
Recommended Stories For You
The Trash Company declined commenting on its current rates for this story.
Steve Jensen, president of Mountain Top Builders, however, was able to shed some light on the specific costs.
"We're generally building single-family custom homes, and we budget somewhere in the neighborhood of $5,000 for Dumpster fees," said Jensen, who also serves as the president of the Grand County Builders Association.
"The cost for sure is an impact. Nobody is complaining about construction costs on new buildings being too inexpensive," he explained.
Jensen said The Trash Company charges about $830 for removal of their biggest 30-yard Dumpsters that carry a five-ton weight limit.
There are also extra charges for going over in weight, and a one-time delivery charge of $180.
He also added that, since the closure of the county's landfills, there is a major lack of availability of locations to effectively dispose of large quantities of stumps and slash that the transfer station won't take.
An environmental concern
The first option for reducing costs is to reopen one of the former landfills, according to Cimino, though neither are promising solutions.
Cimino said the Granby landfill is an environmental concern, and that it was passed capacity and bulging when it was closed.
The county still closely monitors the landfill to ensure that it doesn't slide or move.
The Kremmling landfill was closed under capacity, but reopening it may only be a very short-term solution, he explained.
"We got our hopes up a little bit, but estimating how much trash the average person produces in a population of about 15,000 people we concluded the life of that landfill would probably be less than a year," said Cimino. "It might only be a few months."
The county also considered expanding the Kremmling landfill, though the Bureau of Land Management, which owns the land, has been resistant to approve any expansions.
A more realistic option would be for the county to open a new landfill, and Cimino said if they do end up building a new one, they would seek out a location away from water sources, away from populous areas, likely near the center of the county around Granby.
Cimino said that if plans move forward, he intends to push for as large a landfill as possible, and to emphasize a greater need for recycling.
"Some estimates say that 80 percent of Americans' trash is recyclable," he said. "So if we had effective recycling going on, we might be able to make the landfill capacity double or triple its normal lifespan."
Cimino said the analysis is far from done, and that the county plans on having a meeting with residents, businesses and community leaders either at the end of 2017 or early next year to gain a better perspective on the garbage and recycling needs of the community, and the best ways to remedy them.
The commissioner also noted that there is already opposition to the idea of a new county landfill, with major concerns for residents being that they don't want a landfill in their backyard, and that they don't want their taxes subsidizing builders' costs.
"We're very far from any conclusion that it's a step we want to take, or put on a ballot initiative or something like that," said Cimino. "It's probably going to be a year of two of talks. But the next step is to hear from the builders themselves, and anybody else who wants to discuss the issue."