HG: SustainAbility Column April 25, 2009

For 20 years, homegrown Curbside Recycling Indefinitely has been in the business of recycling commodities in Grand Junction.

Now, as a private contractor for the city, the company that also goes by GJ CRI picks up your recycling at your curb if you live within the city limits. In addition, it runs a recycling facility in conjunction with the city.

Originally a mom and pop operation, the company now has 13 employees who are responsible for everything. This includes picking up the goods, processing the materials, staffing the drop-off area, running the office, finding buyers and arranging shipping. Most employees wear several hats.

In fact, recycling educator Cyndi Albers had to postpone my tour of the facility because she had to help with a route. The facility is actually housed in a refurbished wastewater treatment plant at 333 West Ave. (formerly River Road).

Most weeks GJ CRI picks up recyclables on two to four routes every weekday. The commodities are taken back to the facility where they are sorted, baled and eventually shipped to mills.

Customers are supplied with three large, durable bags for materials and are asked to put glass in one bag, other containers made of steel, aluminum or No. 1 and No. 2 plastic in the second bag and a mix of paper in the remaining bag. Cardboard is flattened and stacked with brown paper bags. Plastic recycling bins can also be purchased from the company.

Once at the facility, brown glass is separated from clear and green glass. Fiber products, including cardboard and several mixes of paper, are stored until they are baled and shipped.

The container line begins in a covered area outside where “blister,” non-bottleneck No. 1 plastic, is separated by hand from the other containers. Then a magnetic head pulley picks up and removes steel cans.

Inside the main building, two employees hand sort No. 1 bottles, No. 2 translucent white bottles and No. 2 rainbow plastics. A machine blows aluminum into its own cage. Once all the different materials are sorted, they can be baled.

The number of customers signing up for curbside service has doubled since 2006. Albers said the key to having clean commodities is having educated participants. When you first sign up, you are given the option of having Albers teach you about the program in your home.

If you do not want that level of instruction, GJ CRI sends out guidelines and you can call with any questions. On the route, employees have pertinent information about customers and often talk to customers or leave a note if there seems to be confusion about what can be recycled.

When you go to the drop off area between 7 a.m. and 4 p.m. on weekdays or from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. on Saturday, a staff member will help you put your recyclables in the proper containers.

Cardboard and brown paper bags share a container and phone books have their own bin. All other recyclable papers can be grouped together.

There is one bin for brown glass while clear or other varieties go in another bin. All other recyclable containers go into one bin.

The e-waste collection area is open 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. Monday through Saturday. There is a fee for e-waste.

Steve Foss is the “pop” of the company. In order to find new homes for the commodities the company collects, he works with brokers, transportation companies and mills.

“It is a pretty streamlined process at this point,” Foss said. After years of experience, he has established relationships with numerous mills and the other players.

Everything is sold by weight. The facility does not have rail access so all the materials are shipped by truck, frequently as backhauls. Glass goes to Miller-Coors in Golden. Plastics are only sent to domestic mills, often in Ohio or South Carolina, so Foss can be sure to avoid “scary” scenarios.

GJ CRI is the only local recycler accepting all No. 1 and No. 2 plastics. You can also recycle paperback books. However, hardbacks are not OK.

Albers said the library takes unwanted hardbacks, other than encyclopedias, selling some of the books in its store, A Novel Idea. They have found a market for the remaining boxes of books.

Last year, GJ CRI recycled 3.47 million pounds of commodities. Not bad for a mom and pop operation.

To sign up for recycling or for more information, call Curbside Recycling at 242-1036.

Adele Israel is a Grand Junction writer who has been involved in sustainability efforts for some 20 years. Have a question or column idea for Adele? E-mail her at .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address).


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