The cost of conservation

City may eliminate recycling program


By recycling instead of discarding unwanted plastic and paper Wednesday morning, Craig resident Joyce Balleck did her daily good deed for the environment.

Balleck deposited the items into bins at the city of Craig recycling center, a community amenity approaching its one-year anniversary. She wishes more people would do the same.

"I've been waiting a long time for (the recycling center)," Balleck said. "I wish more people would use it."

The city of Craig operates the recycling center, 1775 Yampa Ave. The center accepts cardboard, newspapers, tin, aluminum and plastic.

City officials said the center has been little trouble to operate.

"It's operating pretty smoothly," said Rod Durham, crew supervisor with the Craig Solid Waste Department. "Every now and then people put things in the wrong container, but I think it's an honest mistake."

Yet the future of the recycling center is unclear.

Financial concerns could cause the city to stop offering the recycling service, said Randy Call, director of the city's Road and Bridge Department.

"We save $4,000 to $5,000 (per year) on landfill fees," Call said. "But we are spending $11,000 (per year) to haul the loads to Steamboat Springs."

Call doubts that the program can be maintained on such shaky financial ground.

"We never will recoup the costs the way the program is going now," he said, adding that a possible remedy to save the recycling center would be an increase in sanitation fees.

The recycling center has three containers.

The cardboard container is for corrugated cardboard only, Durham said. Beer, soda and produce boxes and wax finish cardboard are not allowed. The bin is a semi-trailer-sized container that gets filled about three times every two weeks.

The second bin at the site is known as the commingle container, which is for aluminum, tin cans and plastic containers. Durham says recycling plastic is sometimes tricky.

"On the bottom (of the plastic product), it will have a number 1 or 2 on it if it's recyclable," he said. "Plastic bags are not a recycle item."

The final container at the site is the mixed-paper container. Newspaper and office paper, as well as paper bags and magazines, are fine. Phone books, types of waxy or plastic paper and catalogs are not.

The center also has a large tank for used oil. Containers that hold oil can be disposed of in trashcans on the site. Only oil itself should be placed into the oil container, Durham said.

Like Balleck, Kourtney Gelvin and Jennifer Holloway arrived Wednesday morning with an assortment of items to place in the bins.

They said they come to the center about every two weeks.

"This is a great setup," Holloway said. "This is nice. We used to take our recycle stuff to Steamboat."

Instead of seeing the recycling program eliminated, both of the women said they would like to see it expanded.

They are hoping to see a recycling bin for glass as well as curbside pick-up at homes for people that don't have a truck.

"I'd like to see (recycle bins) all around town," Gelvin said.

Dan Olsen can be reached at 824-7031, ext. 207, or

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