(Aspen, CO – 3/18/2013) Entire container loads of recyclables are being rejected at the Pitkin County Recycling Center located at the Landfill as a result of what officials believe is a misunderstanding about what can be recycled, and in some cases a blatant disregard, of recycling guidelines.
“When we have this much contamination in a public recycling container we are forced to bury everything, including the legitimate recyclables, in the landfill,” said Solid Waste Manager, Cathy Hall. “We do not have the staff to go through the recycling containers and pick out things like food waste, plastic bags, Styrofoam, cereal boxes and other non-recyclables,” Hall said. “It is hard to see because many people are doing the right thing, it just takes a few that are misinformed to screw up the system.”
Last week landfill officials photographed the contents of a recycling container from the recycling center in the Town of Basalt as it was dumped into and buried in the landfill. Plastic bags, Styrofoam peanuts, office paper and wax covered boxes are clearly visible in the photograph, not to mention entire bags of unrecyclable household garbage. Similar contamination occurs at the City of Aspen recycling center. “If there is any doubt about the recyclability of an item, best to hang on to it and ask the solid waste department if it can be recycled, rather than randomly throwing it into a recycling bin,” added Hall.
“This kind of recycling disregard here seems to come in waves,” said longtime landfill administrator, Hilary Burgess. “We’ll have several good months and then folks seem to forget the rules and we have to remind them,” Burgess said.
A major Pitkin County Landfill public awareness campaign will get underway this spring. The goal is to remind the community about what is and is not recyclable at the landfill, and to promote the $100 landfill credit per local household. Programs including construction waste diversion and compost for sale will also be promoted.
“We hope our increased public education campaign will ease the contamination problem and inspire folks to take advantage of the $100 credit to get rid of things like old furniture, electronics, and hazardous waste. While they’re at it they can check out our gardening and landscaping compost, wood chips and rocks for sale.”
A complete list of accepted recyclables and other landfill information is available on Pitkin County’s website: www.aspenpitkin.com/resourcerecovery.