APRIL 2, 2019 BY 

Article adapted from Steamboat Pilot & Today

As you may know, since China closed its borders to our trash in 2018, the recycling industry has been forced to reinvent itself. There are many rumors that what we put in our recycle bin locally is not being recycled and is going straight to the landfill. This is not entirely true.

Our local Materials Recovery Facility — MRF — is working hard to make sure the materials we put in our recycle bins are being recycled; however, recycling is market dependent. Since China closed its borders, as a nation we are working to develop new domestic markets to sell recyclable material and manufacture new products out of that material. This means some items you put in your recycle bin might end up in the landfill in the short term.

If you want to learn more about the local recycling process, I urge you to take a tour of the Milner MRF. I also urge you to be patient and continue recycling, as this industry is redefined and new end markets are developed.

In addition, you can reduce the amount of waste you produce by choosing products with minimal to no packaging, which gets to the root of the issue. The current recycling crisis could have an upside if it leads to better solutions for managing waste and spurring manufacturers to redesign products for reuse.

Partially in response to these industry changes, a group of dedicated stakeholders and community members have been meeting since February 2018 to develop a waste diversion strategic plan for Routt County. The group identified existing infrastructure and new opportunities to decrease the amount of waste going to the landfill, ultimately leading to six priority areas. I hope you will take a minute to read the plan to learn more about waste diversion efforts locally at https://yvsc.org/wastediversionstrategicplan.

I want to thank each business, community group, resident and student that helped bring this plan to fruition and for their passion for keeping our environment clean and for seeing the economic value in reducing waste going to the landfill.

Tonight, we will present to City Council for adoption of the strategic plan, and on April 9, we will present to the Routt County commissioners. If you’re interested in getting involved in one of the task forces implementing the plan, have questions about recycling or want to learn how to reduce your waste, email cameron@yvsc.org.

Cameron Hawkins
Yampa Valley Sustainability Council