Pitkin County proposes sharing recycling costs with Aspen
ASPEN, Colorado – Pitkin County’s top solid waste official began discussions with City Council Tuesday to find a new funding model for its recycling program, citing a sharp drop in certain revenues.
Chris Hoofnagle, the county’s solid waste manager, told the council this year’s landfill budget is largely unsustainable – it has $600,000 deficit – and asked the council to mull a number of options, which include a cost-sharing agreement with the city, to knock loose some of that money.
Aspen Mayor Mick Ireland posed the option of requiring trash hauling companies to pick up recycle bins.
But Hoofnagle said that only addresses part of the problem, and could potentially take away revenue for the landfill budget as residents would no longer bring their recycling to the center.
He said it would take a number of initiatives to alleviate the program’s budget woes.
“None of these [proposed actions] are silver bullets,” he said. “It’s gonna be a combination of any and all of those things that works.”
County Commissioner Michael Owsley said the recycling program is an essential community asset, and should not be done away with.
Currently, trash hauling companies can carry three different types of separated recyclables. Pitkin County commissioners discussed commingling the different recyclables and investing in a “single stream machine,” which can separate them.
But Hoofnagle said the machine would cost around $9 million.
He proposed eliminating glass recycling, as much of the glass, by the time it reaches its recycling destination in Denver, is crushed to the point that it is useless. The glass could be crushed and used to cover the trash at the landfill, which is a state law.
Glass accounts for nearly 80 percent of the weight of recyclable material, Hoofnagle said, because it is the heaviest. It costs much more to ship than any other item.
The council will continue discussion on the cost-sharing model in future meetings.
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