Grand County asks waste haulers for ideas about recycling, waste management
March 23, 2008
Recycling in Grand County is a multi-pronged dilemma.
Town and county officials and devout recyclers attended the latest recycling meeting Thursday to try and hammer out a plan.
But officials got caught up in unknowns. How do we provide immediate recycling services for Winter Park and Fraser Valley residents? they quizzed, and how do we come up with a long-term solution that combines recycling with overall waste management and the landfill?
After all the towns rejected the recent $310,000 bid a waste management company proposed to haul municipal recyclables, rejections that took no one by surprise, the county unveiled its next move.
Request for proposals have been authored and sent out to Waste Connections (the local Trash Company), Waste Management (which does 50 percent of trash hauling in Grand County), and Twin Enviro Services of Steamboat.
The proposals are due in April 1, and a meeting is scheduled to conduct interviews on April 8.
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It’s hoped one or more of these companies will have the golden ticket to a solution.
Companies are being asked to bring their ideas to the table about how trash removal, hauling, recycling services and landfill operations could be combined to create an efficient and more environmentally sound waste management system in Grand County.
Liz McIntyre, waste management expert who has volunteered to be an information liaison as the county progresses in this fashion, says towns should not be so blurry-eyed from witnessing increased recycling costs.
The cost of fuel has taken its toll on the industry, but even with those increases, specifically Grand Lake’s latest news, recycling is still cheaper for its constituents than having recyclables hauled as trash to the local landfill. To haul trash it costs about $25 to $35 a pound, she said following the meeting. To haul a pound of recyclables, it costs less than half that.
But the way many government agencies progress, McIntyre continued, is they end up with a scenario entailing users paying for recycling services. Grand County is in the genesis of this progression.
“You become smart about what’s in the waste stream,” McIntyre explained during the meeting, “about how to use it, and how to limit liability, and the users of the system fund it…. It’s not structured based on property tax or sales tax.”
But citizen Pat Person of Granby, who sat at the table with elected officials and county staff members, said she’d be opposed to paying for recycling loads. She cleans houses and condominiums owned by second homeowners who leave their trash.
She takes that trash to the landfill, which she pays, and recycles what can be salvaged.
But she would be discouraged from recycling, she said, if she had to pay for it.
“I think that even if it’s more money that the towns and county want to spend, they need to have recycling bins out by this summer,” she said.
Granby resident Dan Osborne asked what the hurdles are, why it is so hard for Grand County to figure out a way to provide recycling and divert waste when other cities in the nation already have state-of-the-art solutions in operation.
The response to Osborne was that Grand County is under-populated, with 14,000-plus residents spread out from west to east, north to south. It’s about economy of scale, they said. And each segment of the county has unique circumstances, with full-time residents to second homeowners who leave the county and their trash out on Sunday to be picked up mid-week, to condominium dwellers. Some towns are rich and some towns aren’t, making it difficult to find an answer that fits everyone’s budget.
“It’s not cookie-cutter,” said Winter Park Town Manager Dave Torgler.
Towns such as Winter Park have explored hauling recyclables to Denver with town trucks and staff, but found that cost overwhelming.
As a temporary fix, a light bulb went on in the room when County Manager Lurline Underbrink Curran suggested that towns explore hauling recyclables with their equipment to Granby to a pick-up location. Then, perhaps, Valley Recycling could transport hauls from there to the Parshall-based Valley Recycling plant.
For the long-term, a solution to Grand County’s overall trash-recycling management is within reach, according to David Epstein, vice president and general manager of Twin Enviro Services, Steamboat Springs. Epstein attended the meeting to find out more about the direction of Grand County’s leaders.
After the meeting, Epstein said there are ways Grand County can cut costs in recycling, such as processing some recyclables, such as glass, locally. For example, with a crushing machine, glass can be turned into landscaping material, he said.
Citizen Caren Welcome of Granby sat at the brainstorming table and told officials she wants to remain involved.
Why the interest?
“I was spoiled,” she said. “I’ve been up here 20 years, and we used to have a great recycling program. When I lost that ability to recycle at my convenience, I wanted to know more. I want to know what it takes to get recycling back by working together. But I was not realizing there is so much to it.”
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