21-year veteran of curbside recycling to receive award

Steve Foss of Curbside Recycling Indefinitely will receive a lifetime achievement award.

Steve Foss started 21 years ago in the business of collecting recyclable material on Grand Junction’s city streets.

On June 8, he’ll be collecting something else: a lifetime achievement award from Colorado Association for Recycling.

Foss back in 1989 volunteered to conduct a waste-diversion study with 50 households in the Spring Valley subdivision.

That marked the beginning of Curbside Recycling Indefinitely, a venture Foss has nurtured on the city streets for 21 years.

“The first year, we did about 100,000 pounds, and we’re now up to about 4 million and the expansion will take us to 9 million pounds” Foss said Friday.

The expansion includes a new building at the Grand Junction city maintenance yard that will house a new baler and new conveyor. The new baler will enable him to better handle fiber materials such as cardboard, Foss said.

Both the building and baler were purchased with grant money obtained by the city.

It’s a far cry from the beginning of the business, when he drove an old Volkswagen Rabbit pickup and weighed the recyclable material left out for collection at 50 households with a meat scale he bought for $30.

Curbside Recycling Indefinitely graduated to a 1976 Jeep driven by his wife, Elaine, while he collected and sorted the material.

The Jeep had no floorboard and no muffler, “so people had no trouble remembering to set (recyclable material) out because they could hear us several blocks away,” Foss said.

Curbside Recyling Indefinitely, which incorporated in 1992, now employs 14 people.

Foss still remembers taking seriously a challenge from Councilman Paul Nelson at Mesa College to become involved in city government.

“You could see he was and is a serious person,” Nelson said. “It was plain to see he was dedicated to the effort, and the program has been in good hands while he’s been in charge of it. Clearly he’s one of the leading proponents of recycling.”

Foss and the city have what Foss said is a unique arrangement by which the city collects and keep $1.75 a month for the residential service, and Curbside Recycling Indefinitely and the city split the money from the sales of recycled material.

The program has saved the city the cost of purchasing a trash truck, Foss said.

Foss will receive the lifetime achievement award at the Colorado Association for Recycling 2010 Summit for Recycling on June 8 at the Sheraton Steamboat Resort in Steamboat Springs.


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