Few using Fruita’s curbside recycling

Pascual Guerrero empties a comingled container of recyclable materials while Kevin Anway mans the controls inside the truck as the two work their recycling route in northeast Fruita. The right bucket on the front of the truck is for paper and cardboard, while the left holds such items as glass and plastic. Both men are employees of Waste Management.

Fruita city officials and council members see a conundrum. The city’s regular trash pickup service includes curbside recycling, at no additional cost, yet only about half the customers take advantage of the environmentally friendly perk.

The city is making an extra effort to spread the word, though, according to City Manager Clint Kinney.

“We’re just trying our best to get the information out so that people know that it’s a free service,” Kinney said. “You’re already paying for it, so you might as well use it.”

The issue is less about how many people participate in the program and more about how much waste the city is diverting away from the landfill, Kinney said.

He pointed to some mountain towns whose diversion rates—what they would expect to otherwise go to the dump getting recycled instead—are in the neighborhood of 30 percent. In 2010, Boulder diverted 46 percent of its municipal solid waste. The state’s diversion rate in 2011 was 23.8 percent, according to the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment.

Through August of this year, Fruita’s diversion rate was just 5.23 percent, according to the city’s contractor, Waste Management.

Based on the preliminary 2013 budget, Fruita residents will see a modest increase in trash collection fees next year, from $11.50 to $12.15 per month. That includes the two-bin curbside recycling service for glass, plastic, aluminum, paper and cardboard. Waste Management collects the recyclables twice a month.

Residents can request the bins by going to the city’s website at http://www.fruita.org, or get more information by calling 858-3663.

People in Fruita also have a less altruistic reason for participating in the recycling program. Every quarter, Waste Management identifies an outstanding recycling customer—based on quality, consistency and other factors—and awards that person $100.

Even without the lure of award money, recycling continues to be a push to which people are responding, as programs across the Grand Valley are swelling in numbers.

Steve Foss, general manager with Curbside Recycling Indefinitely—the recycling contractor for the city of Grand Junction since 1992—described 2012 as a “banner year.”

“Normally we’ll sign up 200 to 300 houses a year. This year it looks like we’re going to sign up somewhere just south of 400,” Foss said.

Overall, the city of Grand Junction is on pace this year to match its 2011 diversion rate of 11 percent, when the city diverted more than 2,100 tons of recyclables, compared to more than 19,760 tons that ended up in the landfill.

In Palisade, residents don’t have the option of curbside recycling with their municipal trash collection service, but for the past few years the town has provided a centralized drop-off point for non-glass recyclables.

Because the bins are filling up so fast, the town is planning for more frequent pickups at the site next year. Monthly trash collection rates are expected to go up 50 cents next year, to expand the recycling service, as a result.

“We can say that it is a good problem to have—at least people are recycling and we’re helping them,” Palisade Public Works Director Frank Watt told the town’s Board of Trustees last week.

“Because of the popularity of (the service), those costs were greater than we originally anticipated,” Watt said.

The rate raise is still proposed at this point and will need to be approved by the Board of Trustees sometime next year.


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“...two-bin curbside recycling service for glass, plastic, aluminum, paper and cardboard.”

I thought the recycling service was for just newspaper and cardboard.  I’m glad to know it’s for other materials as well.  I’ll be tossing more stuff into the bins now.

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