Recycling Contamination Defeats Program Mission



Rotting meat is just one of the inappropriate and somewhat unpleasant items that have been found in downtown recycle containers in recent months. Other items that have turned up in recycle bins in both Aspen and the Town of Basalt that are not recyclable include cereal boxes, Styrofoam, and waxy fruit boxes.


 “Sadly, when items like these are stuffed into our recycling containers they can contaminate the entire container and force us to dump everything into our landfill,” said Director of Pitkin County Public Works, Brian Pettet.  “The majority of our community puts tremendous effort into recycling. We don’t want to see that effort literally – go to waste,” Pettet said.


Recycling centers in Aspen and Basalt have also become dumping grounds for electronics, worn out furniture, and yard and hazardous waste, among other things. Items like these must be properly disposed of at the landfill. Recycling drop off points are not equipped to manage this kind of solid waste.


 “Our landfill has a limited lifespan and we pride ourselves with having an excellent recycling and waste diversion program that recycles or diverts more than 70% of the waste that arrives there. We understand that recycling can be confusing but unfortunately we believe there are just a few, frequent offenders who are just looking for a convenient place to dump their junk,” Pettet said.


Both Aspen and Basalt Recycling Centers are equipped with video surveillance. The Aspen and Basalt Police Departments are responsible for enforcement of recycling rules and will ticket violators observed on camera. City and County law enforcement officials are stepping up enforcement because of the recent increase in violations.


“There are so many resources for businesses and residents to properly dispose of waste and recyclables,” said City of Aspen Senior Environmental Health Specialist, Ashley Perl. “For example, the City of Aspen hosts regular e-waste drop-off days and keeps regular information about recycling and composting on our website, under the “Go Green” tab,” Perl said.


A complete list of accepted recyclables and other landfill information is available on Pitkin County’s website:

All Pitkin County households are entitled to a $100 credit at the landfill to accommodate those wishing to get rid of things like furniture, broken television sets and computers, refrigerators, motor oil, paint, yard waste and other non-recyclable items.     

Posted on Monday, February 11, 2013