Rod Durham, solid waste department crew supervisor for the Road and Bridge Department, encourages residents of Craig to be thoughtful about how they recycle.

Photo by Erin Fenner

Rod Durham, solid waste department crew supervisor for the Road and Bridge Department, encourages residents of Craig to be thoughtful about how they recycle.

Recycling in Craig

— Recycling hasn’t changed much in Craig during the past 13 years.

But last summer, Craig recycling expanded the plastics it accepts, said Rod Durham, solid waste department crew supervisor for the Road and Bridge Department.

Originally, waste management just accepted No. 1 and No. 2 plastics, which are typically water bottles and milk jugs. But now, people can also dispose of plastics No. 3 to 7. So people can recycle plastics like yogurt cups, plastic take-out containers, long-use water bottles, plastic lids and plastic packaging.

Waste management still does not accept any plastic bags, Durham said. In fact, if people throw out their recyclable plastics in a plastic bag, it will most likely be sent to the landfill.

“They don’t want plastic bags. People think they are recycling, but if they’re throwing it in the bag, it goes to the landfill,” Durham said.

People should pull their plastics out of the bags to avoid this.

“They get pulled out, and especially the black bags,” he said, because waste management can’t tell what is in the bags.

The bags also can mess up the recycling center’s machines.

“Those bags will wrap up on their conveyer belts,” Durham said.

There are garbage bins on site for people to dump their trash that would otherwise contaminate the recycling containers.

It’s important for residents of Craig to be considerate of contamination because the city’s waste management doesn’t actually get any revenue from recycling.

Craig doesn’t have its own recycling center, so it takes the loads up to Steamboat Springs.

“Right now, we don’t derive any income from this recycle,” Durham said. “If the product isn’t clean, they might begin to charge them up there.”

Other things people can do to make recycling easier for waste management is to remove the plastic lids on plastic containers. Often, lids and their containers are made of different plastics, and separating them makes it that much easier to recycle. Recyclers also should remember to not recycle plastic containers that contained oil in them since oil is a contaminant.

Other mistakes people typically make have to do with recycling cardboard.

People can recycle corrugated cardboard and paper, but residents often mistakenly assume that means they can recycle paperboard. Corrugated cardboard is thick cardboard that is used for boxes. Paperboard is used for packaging in cereal boxes and pop boxes.

Unfortunately, the Steamboat Springs recycling center cannot recycle paperboard, so the Craig recycling bins also cannot accept them. They also can’t accept waxed cardboard that is often used to pack produce.

Tom Gilchrist was on the Craig City Council when the idea of recycling first came to Craig.

“Once Meeker got their recycling center, we asked, 'Why can’t we have one?'” he said.

The challenge was finding a way to recycle without a center.

“We looked into a number of different things,” he said. “Road and Bridge decided they could take our recycling up to Routt County.”

That was in 2000, and because Craig still doesn’t have a recycling center, not much has changed.

Road and Bridge still hauls the recycling bins up to Steamboat Springs even though it gets no revenue from it. While it might take a small portion of money from the landfill, Durham said it wasn’t much.

It’s not clear what recycling will look like in the future for Craig, Durham said. That would depend on the community. But in the meantime, if residents want to take care of the environment with some small steps, they can make sure they pay attention to details while recycling.

Durham was confident people would do a good job following the rules.

“There’s very few people who abuse it,” he said. “Most are honest mistakes.”

Contact Erin Fenner at 970-875-1794 or efenner@CraigDailyPress.com.

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