New recycling options for residents

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Craig residents will have several recycling options starting Friday.

The city's north Yampa Avenue recycling center will, at least partially, be open for the collection of plastic, cardboard and paper. Used motor oil collection will have to wait for a month until the receptacles arrive, but residents still can use the igloos in front of City Market.

Councilors are excited about the option, but they do have concerns about the effect recycling might have on the amount of trash the solid waste department hauls, which basically means revenue.

"If cardboard works out like it could, we stand to lose a lot of money," Mayor Don Jones said.

The concern is that the six to eight businesses that produce a large amount of cardboard waste will take the waste to the recycling center. Not only would that decrease amount of trash pickups the city has at the businesses, but the contribution also might overload the recycling center, requiring the city to pay for additional trips to Steamboat Springs to empty the recycling container.

It's a viable concern, said Chris Nichols, owner of McDonald's in Craig and Steamboat Springs. When he was provided a trash container just for cardboard, the number of trash pickups he needed decreased from six a week to three a week.

"That's how it impacted us," he said, "my trash bill went down."

Waste Management, the company that provides trash service in Steamboat, offers special cardboard-only dumpsters to clients at a reduced cost.

Road and Bridge Dep--artment Director Randy Call said he's not worried yet.

"I guess at this point in time, I'm willing to wait and see what happens," he said. "I don't know if (businesses) are going to keep their cardboard or bring it to the site."

He said it would be nearly impossible to enforce a limitation that allows only residential, not commercial, use of the recycling containers.

"I don't have any solutions," he said. "I don't know what to expect."

As the city gets set to launch the first citywide recycling effort, officials have another concern: How to educate the public.

City staff members won't be sorting recyclables -- that job is left to residents, and one resident can ruin an entire load by putting the wrong item in a container. When that happens, the entire load has to be taken to the landfill.

To avoid that, the recycling site is covered with signs explaining recycling dos and don'ts.

That's not enough, some council members said. They'd like to see refrigerator magnets made, or the list printed on heavy cardstock so that residents have it available before they get to the site.

"All I've heard is that educating the public is the key to your success," Councilor Tom Gilchrist said.

"If you don't educate us -- who have never done recycling -- it's going to fail," Councilor Bill Johnston said.

The issue is money. Call told council members the project already was over-budget and that the money just isn't there for an expensive educational campaign.

"Recycling is just one more expense we're adding to a fund that's already struggling," he said.

Councilors left it in the hands of city staff to determine the best method of community education.

Christina M. Currie can be reached at 824-7031 or at ccurrie@craigdailypress.com.

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