Editorial: Summit’s landfill conundrum
Ryan Summerlin May 24, 2012
What we do with our waste may be the least-sexy thing we must talk about as a society, but in Summit County, the issue is coming to a head. There are many complexities involved with the landfill out near Keystone, but the problem boils down to one essential fact: The landfill’s business model has always relied on fees paid by those using the landfill, and as more waste has been diverted to recycling, those fees are on a downward trend. As a county, we like recycling, but we still have landfill waste. How, then, to fund the landfill without steadily increasing prices for the end consumer?
No less than 30 people sit on the to address the landfill problem, and they’ve been studying everything from raising fee to enforcing a “flow control” measure that would require any company hauling waste in Summit County to use the local landfill (it can be cheaper to go to the Front Range, even with the additional expense of hauling it there). That idea has been tabled for the moment, and those haulers are on the task force looking to solve the problem. It’s a nice example of government and private enterprise working together for a common good, and we commend the county for its efforts in reaching out to all the various interest groups.
It’s interesting to note that, for the most part, Americans have “enjoyed” the luxury of getting rid of stuff pretty easily in the past, but those days are ending. We now know you can’t just chuck a television or an old computer in the landfill; those things are filled with toxic junk, and they must be recycled. The reality is the cost of disposal should be built into every such product sold, but that’s not the case yet, leaving some of the true cost of that cheap electronic device a burden on society when it reaches the end of its life. Summit County has an opportunity to create a landfill and recycling model for the future, and the thoughtful way they’re going about it encourages us that a workable solution isn’t far off.
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