Recycling fix for Fraser Valley at least months away
December 19, 2007
The plates of cookies and fruit remained mostly untouched at last night’s recycling social in Granby, where about 16 people showed up for the informational meeting hosted by Grand County resident Liz McIntyre.
The good news? People are talking about recycling and looking into possible programs that will work for Grand County. The bad news: It’s going to take a while.
McIntyre, a recycling advocate who has waste hauling experience, is currently working with the county to send out a request for proposal (RFP) to trash companies, to find out what company would be willing to take on the project, and how much it would cost. To date, a final draft has not been completed, and Grand County Commissioner James Newberry, who attended the meeting, admitted it was going to take longer than others have anticipated. Having a bid by January or February is not likely, he said.
“I’m just being realistic,” Newberry said.
The price of a program will also probably be more than anyone anticipated, he added. The towns and the county are putting money aside, but no one knows for sure what type of program will be needed. In the meantime, the time for the county landfill is running out, and finding a new site is challenging.
“You think people don’t want timeshares in their backyard? Try a landfill,” Newberry said.
County Commissioner Nancy Stuart added that finding a site through the Bureau of Land Management is a 10-year process; it’s five years through a private entity.
“We’re trying to come up with many ideas, but … there’s so many alternatives. We’ve got to find what’s right for Grand County,” Newberry said. “And there’s going to be some pains.”
McIntrye mentioned several ideas for recycling in Grand County, including curb-side service or a recycling plant, and explained the pros and cons of each. She also compared other community models and discussed why certain programs would be challenging to incorporate into a community such as Grand County, which deals with winter conditions, high transportation costs and long distances between towns, to name a few.
The goal, she said, is to find a system that’s durable, flexible and enduring for solid waste management ” but reaching that goal will take more research. She also explained the importance of studying the current waste stream going into the county landfill and coming up with solutions through those findings.
“There’s a lot that can be diverted out of the landfill,” McIntyre said.
Cardboard, for instance, is one of the biggest. And construction materials make up more than half of the waste stream, which is a high percentage compared to other communities, McIntyre admitted. While Grand County’s construction waste makes up 52 percent of the waste stream, Larimer County’s construction waste, for example, makes up 16 percent.
Some in attendance suggested raising tipping fees for construction dumpsters. Stuart said the county has started taking steps toward that by raising the fees for slash and cement. Newberry added that it’s a two-pronged approach: If the county raises fees, it needs to provide an alternative. The county is meeting with the Home Builders Association to talk about incentives for construction waste, he added.
“But right now, it’s quicker for them to throw it away,” he said.
Other suggestions were made, including one by Pat Jacques, a computer consultant, who asked that the landfill discontinue accepting electronics. TV screens, computer monitors, cell phones, batteries ” even remote controls ” emit water soluble lead that seeps into the ground, Jacques explained. An alternative is needed for this type of trash, she said.
While no concrete answers were found last night, those in attendance seemed pleased at the open communication at the meeting. Former owner of Grand Recycles Katie Soles was in attendance, as well as the current owner of Valley Recycles Karen Bloomfield. Bloomfield said she plans to put in a bid when the RFP is sent out.
McIntyre suggested meeting again, perhaps after the RFPs come back and the county has an idea of what the bids will be. Until then, she advised residents to be creative about finding ways to go to Granby for recycling, such as grouping up with neighbors and taking turns. She understands Fraser Valley residents are frustrated, she added, but looking into what would work best for Grand County is in everybody’s interest.
“We can’t just adopt someone else’s system and expect it to work here. There’s a reason why communities do things,” McIntyre said.
The clock, however, is ticking.
“There’s nothing like a crisis to make communities do something. We have a bit of a crisis. If we continue to build and generate trash like we are, and the numbers stay the same, and there’s a glitch where the landfill is not (re-sited) in five years …”