Recycling Challenges

Mountain Waste & Recycling offers recycling services as a way to reduce our collective impact on resources. We also believe in transparency when it comes to the costs of our services. Mountain communities share a unique set of challenges when it comes to recycling. We are located a great distance from the large materials processing facilities that sort recyclables and prepare them for shipment to mills.

 

WE ARE FORCED TO PASS ALONG THE DRAMATICALLY INCREASING COSTS OF RECYCLING.

Please read below to learn about the factors affecting all of us in western Colorado.

 


 

Past:

For many years, haulers were able to empty 100% of their recycling collection trucks at a facility owned by Pitkin County (Aspen). The County Commissioners were faced with a $350,000 annual loss by operating this facility.

November 2014:
Commissioners decide to restrict the amount of recyclable materials they accept from haulers and reduce the number of county-sponsored recycling drop off sites. THIS MEANS THAT WE MUST TRANSPORT THE VAST MAJORITY OF RECYCLABLES THAT WE COLLECT TO WOLCOTT, COLORADO OR DENVER.

Present:

Transportation Cost Increases:
95% of the recyclables that we collect are transported to processing facilities out of the area because there is limited local processing available. 80% of our total recyclable materials collected are transported 60 miles to a processing plant owned by Eagle County. 20% of our total recyclables are transported 180 miles to Denver.recycling-map

 

Processing Cost Increases:
Pitkin County charges a $26 per ton fee for us to empty our recycling collection trucks at their facility. We are limited by Pitkin County to bringing them 40 tons per year – or about two weeks’ worth of what we collect during the year.

The Denver processors have begun charging haulers a fee to empty their recycling loads at the processing plants. Five years ago they paid us for the materials. Today we pay them approximately $25 per ton to empty our trucks.


These increased costs now mean that our cost to collect, transport and unload recyclables at a distant sorting facility is nearly double the cost to collect and landfill trash.

WE HAVE NOT YET ADJUSTED OUR PRICING TO A LEVEL THAT COVERS THESE ADDITIONAL COSTS!


Future:

Possible Additional Transportation Cost Increases:
We are concerned that the Eagle County government will join Pitkin County in making the decision to close its recycling facility. If this happens we will be forced to transport 100% of our recyclables to Denver at a dramatically increased cost.

Processing Cost Increases:
We have no way of determining the “ceiling” on the amounts that the Denver processing facilities will charge us to process the recyclable materials that we collect on your behalf.

Nationally, there’s an ongoing effort to effectively recycle materials using methods that are environmentally friendly and monetarily successful, but in our area we face immediate challenges that cause each of us to evaluate our own participation in the recycling system that exists at present.

We believe in what we do, and the promise of recycling and reducing our overall personal waste. As we navigate the intricacies of the recycling industry and how it affects our business practices, we remain committed to providing our customers with accurate, honest information about these issues.

 


 

Other Recycling Challenges

 

  • Recycling is in trouble – and it might be your fault thumbnail

    Recycling is in trouble – and it might be your fault

    Posted April 27, 2017

    Paul Singer, Staff Writer
    USA TODAY

    If you are recycling at home, you are probably doing it wrong.

    That is why a worker lunged to grab a garden hose off the conveyor belt at a Waste Management recycling facility here Wednesday before it got caught in a giant sorting… learn more »

  • Recycling is growing, but Southwest Colorado is sending more trash to landfills thumbnail

    Recycling is growing, but Southwest Colorado is sending more trash to landfills

    Posted August 3, 2016

    Mary Shinn, Herald Staff Writer
    Durango Herald

    Even though recycling is on the rise regionally, consumers in Southwest Colorado are sending more trash to landfills than they were in 2007. For example, WCA Waste, which operates the Bondad Landfill, has seen an almost 7 percent increase from 243,487 cubic… learn more »

  • Through the looking glass, some envisioning a recycling rebound thumbnail

    Through the looking glass, some envisioning a recycling rebound

    Posted April 28, 2016

    Jason Blevins
    The Denver Post

    Momentum Recycling, Alpine Waste see opportunity in shattered bottles, bailed Styrofoam

    John Lair rattles a plastic bag full of broken glass.

    There are bits of plastic, paper labels and chunks of food mixed in with the green, amber and clear — or flint —… learn more »

  • Partnership to keep 
Basalt recycling facility running thumbnail

    Partnership to keep 
Basalt recycling facility running

    Posted January 29, 2016
    County, town talk 50-50 split on operations cost A popular recycling center in Willits will remain open for the time being after the town of Basalt and Pitkin County discussed an informal agreement during Tuesday evening’s joint meeting. The county is looking at a 50-50 share of costs with the town to keep the needed facility operating and recyclables out of the landfill. Basalt had said it would no longer help fund the facility, which is operated by Waste Management, come the end of April. The town has been subsidizing the recycling drop-off center to the tune of $3,300 per month since September. learn more »
  • Low Oil Prices Interfere With What Recyclers Are Paid For Plastic thumbnail

    Low Oil Prices Interfere With What Recyclers Are Paid For Plastic

    Posted January 26, 2016

    The price of oil has been on a downward dive for a couple of years. This has been great for some businesses and not so for others. One industry hit especially hard is the recycling business. DAVID GREENE, HOST: The price of oil has been on a downward dive for a couple years now, and one business hit especially hard by low oil prices is the recycling business. Here's Stacey Vanek Smith from our Planet Money team. STACEY VANEK SMITH, BYLINE: Last spring, oil prices had just dropped in half from $120 a barrel to about $60 a barrel, and all of these recycling plants were going out of business. To figure out why, I visited Tom Outerbridge at Sims Recycling in Brooklyn, right near where live. learn more »

  • Reduce, Reuse, Remove The Cellophane: Recycling Demystified thumbnail

    Reduce, Reuse, Remove The Cellophane: Recycling Demystified

    Posted January 26, 2016

    It's easy to think we're being virtuous when we fill up the blue recycling bin and put it on the curb. But it's clear we have embraced some magical thinking when it comes to what can be recycled. NPR's Dianna Douglas visited a waste management plant in Elkridge, Md., to get the answers from Michael Taylor, director of recycling operations for the plant. Taylor's No. 1 tip: Don't recycle plastic bags, even if they're full of newspaper. They gum up the whole processing system. Every few hours Taylor has to shut down the machines to remove all the plastic. learn more »

  • single-stream-recycling

    With 'Single-Stream' Recycling, Convenience Comes At A Cost

    Posted January 26, 2016

    "In many municipalities around the country, the days of sorting your recyclables for curbside pickup are long gone, replaced by a system called "single stream" recycling. But what happens after all those bits of plastic, paper, glass and metal get put in the bin? Because it's often collected by the same workers who pick up the garbage, it's easy to wonder if the recyclables make their way to the dump, too. But single-stream recycling ends up at a place called a materials recovery facility. An MRF is part warehouse, part industrial plant; a single facility can process hundreds of tons every day, using workers and high-tech machines." learn more »

  • Pitkin County wants more equitable contributions for recycling service thumbnail

    Pitkin County wants more equitable contributions for recycling service

    Posted January 20, 2016

    Basalt only covering cost of Willits facility through April Pitkin County commissioners had a long discussion on the moral benefits of the area’s recycling program on Tuesday, but stressed that municipalities need to step up their share of funding to support the costly amenity into the future. The high cost of recycling service is being compounded by the commodity markets falling drastically in the last few years, making recycling facilities unprofitable. The county is now looking at having municipalities share the cost of service at a possible 50-50 clip. That would mean an annual match of $97,000 from the city of Aspen, $23,300 from Basalt, and $56,600 from Snowmass Village for operations. learn more »

  • Recycling Poses Conundrum for Waste Companies, Local Governments thumbnail

    Recycling Poses Conundrum for Waste Companies, Local Governments

    Posted January 19, 2016

    The vast majority of recyclable materials from the Roaring Fork Valley are being shipped across the Pacific Ocean. That’s according to a major area trash and recycling hauler. Recycling has been a hot topic among leaders in the Valley, as the price of collecting and trucking plastic, glass, and other materials out of the area is getting more expensive.

    "The chances of your recyclables going to China are probably in the 95% - 100% range,” says Scott Eden. He’s founder and President of Carbondale-based Mountain Waste and Recycling, the combination of the two companies Intermountain Waste & Recycling and Mountain Roll-Offs, Inc. “And there are a bunch of factors, that none of us control, that impact [sending recyclables to China]." learn more »