Recycling made easy (sponsored)
June 13, 2018
Among the countless reasons why you should recycle, perhaps the most compelling of them all is that it's a really simple task.
In Summit County, there are new, accessible ways to recycle, including an online interactive tool that aims to help people figure out where and what they can recycle.
"We're making it easier to recycle. Instead of a bunch of hurdles, we're trying to provide education and resources to make it easier for visitors and residents," said Barry Rubenstein, marketing and development director for High Country Conservation Center (HC3), which works to promote waste reduction and resource conservation in Summit County.
Part of that education includes informing people what they shouldn't recycle. Did you know that just a little basic recycling knowledge could prevent items from heading to the landfill? Just a handful of unrecyclable items in a recycling load could cause the entire load to head to the landfill. HC3 Executive Director Jen Schenk said that's why the organization's motto is, "When in doubt, throw it out."
"It's really important for residents to do some research on their local recycling options before just throwing everything into the recycling," she said.
Here's some of that research made easy for residents and visitors who are interested in environmental stewardship.
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Glass must be recycled separately
Most recycling items in Summit County can be mixed together, but glass has to be recycled separately.
"Oftentimes, visitors assume that the same items can be recycled here as where they live," Schenk said. "Many condo complexes and hotels have recycling collection onsite, but sometimes visitors need to ask where to find it. Sometimes glass recycling is not available onsite, which means glass needs to be taken to a recycling site or thrown in the trash."
Rocky the Robot — an online answer to your recycling questions
HC3 has created an online tool to help residents and visitors navigate the recycling process, which, given the ease and accessibility of it, isn't much of a process at all.
Rocky the Robot, online at highcountryconservation.org/recycle, allows people to type in an item to find out where they can recycle it in Summit County.
Things that cannot be recycled
Unfortunately, some items are just not recyclable. Schenk said this can be confusing when people see a recycling symbol on the bottom of something like Styrofoam or plastic Tupperware.
"People assume that means it's recyclable, however that symbol with a number is actually not a recycling symbol, it's a designation used by the plastics industry to indicate the chemical composition or type of plastic," she said. "So, in most places, Styrofoam and Tupperware containers are not recyclable even though they seem to have a recycling symbol on the bottom."
That's why education is important, and why the Rocky the Robot tool is making it easier for people to be informed about proper recycling.
Making recycling accessible
If you're finding that recycling isn't available in your community, help make it accessible. Any resident or visitor in Summit County who finds that recycling isn't available at their condo or home should request recycling collection service. There are also free recycling centers throughout the community where recycling can be dropped off. Three centers — in Frisco, Breckenridge and Dillon — are open 24/7 for drop-off recycling. Items that can be dropped off at these locations include aluminum cans, glass bottles, cardboard, paper, cereal boxes, no. 1 and no. 2 plastics, batteries and scrap metal. No. 1 plastics, or polyethylene terephthalate, include the vast majority of disposable beverage and food containers, and household cleaning containers. No. 2 plastics, or high-density polyethylene, include things like milk jugs, toiletries, detergents and juice bottles.
And don't forget about food items, either. Food scraps can be recycled into compost.
"There are several local programs that allow residents and businesses to collect their wasted food and turn it into compost," Schenk said. "The SCRAP creates compost locally from all of this food waste. All four local ski areas are participating in the local composting program."
Recycling is the aftermath of consumption. If people use less, they won't need to recycle as much.
"All of us have the power to 'reduce' consumption by buying less, using cloth bags at the grocery store and using a water bottle," Schenk said. "We also have the opportunity to 'reuse' products instead of buying new ones, and buying items at thrift stores or garage sales is easy and inexpensive. When all else fails, then of course the item should be recycled." •
Visit highcountryconservation.org/recycle to ask Rocky the Robot where you can recycle specific items.
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