Are you recycling in vain in Silverthorne? |

Are you recycling in vain in Silverthorne?

Summit Daily/Brad OdekirkBud Hall, district manager at Waste Management in Silverthorne, says people's trash contaminates recycling bins so much that his waste haulers sometimes have to take recyclables to the landfill near Keystone.

SILVERTHORNE – Some residents, and even Silverthorne town officials, have been wondering whether their recyclables are ending up in the right place.

The town’s recycling drop-off site is one small section of the Waste Management property on Brian Avenue, where garbage trucks and Dumpsters are stored.

“I just don’t know if it’s worth it to take recyclables to the Waste Management site,” said Councilmember Sheila Groneman last week.

The Silverthorne town council had an impromptu discussion about the issue at last week’s meeting.

It’s hard for the average person to tell whether trucks at the site have recyclables or garbage in them.

Waste Management district manager Bud Hall responded to the concerns and rumors.

“I invite any councilmember to come over, and I will personally give them a tour of the property and what we do here,” Hall said. “Recycling is very important to us, and we know it is also important to the community.”

There is only one scenario that has led recyclable material to end up in the landfill, Hall said.

Contaminated bins.

When someone dumps a trash bag into a Dumpster used for recycling at the Silverthorne site for example, the whole Dumpster is contaminated. Or when a restaurant employee tries to recycle cardboard boxes with the frying grease bags still inside, an entire Dumpster’s worth of corrugated cardboard is no longer recyclable.

Cereal boxes, shoe boxes, wax-coated boxes and other single-layer paperboard are not accepted at Waste Management’s recycling site. Only the Summit Recycling Project’s drop-off sites take single-layer paperboard.

If people toss plastic bags of newspapers in the recycling Dumpsters, the bin will have too much plastic contamination, Hall said.

Recycle processing plants that accept recyclables from Waste Management will throw away bails with more than 5 percent contamination, said Nelson Rodas, director of the recycling plant at Waste Management of Silverthorne. The plants charge extra for contaminated bails of recyclable materials, rather than paying Waste Management for recycling bails.

“About 20 percent of the recyclables people turn in at our Silverthorne site are contaminated by regular trash,” Hall said. “We separate some of it out, but sometimes there’s too much (garbage) contamination.”

Summit County landfill manager Rick Pocius verified Hall’s statement that Waste Management rarely brings recyclables to the landfill.

“They’ll bring an occasional contaminated bail of cardboard,” Pocius said. “But we never really see them bringing in trucks of glass bottles or aluminum cans.”

The Silverthorne Town Council last week talked about possibly joining up with the Summit Recycling Project, like the town of Dillon has.

In the Dillon Town Hall parking lot, people can drop off their rinsed, sorted recyclables for collection by the local nonprofit Summit Recycling Project.

Waste Management tries to avoid taking recyclables to the landfill because it costs the company money to dump trash, Hall said.

Waste Management workers separate trash out of recyclables when possible on weekdays. Recycling in Silverthorne is closed on weekends.

The recyclable materials are sent out to processing plants in Denver and out of state.

There is a significant difference between the list of recyclables that the Summit Recycling Project accepts and what is recyclable at the Silverthorne Waste Management site. Many residents apparently do not have a grip on those differences.

“People drop off oil, tires, shiny paperboard and batteries, and we do not recycle those,” said Jay Johnson, Waste Management route manager. “So we have to take those items to the landfill.”

Not all recyclable commodities “pay their way,” said Carly Wier, director of the Summit Recycling Project in Frisco, Breckenridge and Dillon.

Sometimes the cost of processing and hauling certain types of recyclables is too great to make recycling profitable. But there are other reasons to recycle, such as conserving natural resources and making landfills last, Wier said.

The profit issue highlights a distinct difference between a trash hauling business that recycles and a nonprofit recycler, Wier said.

As a mission-driven nonprofit, the Summit Recycling Project is driven to recycle even when it costs money to do so, Weir said.

“In the past five years I can only think of one instance when we were forced to throw some plastics in the landfill due to extreme contamination, and even then it was a very small amount,” Wier said.

Summit County Commissioners are considering a deal that would make the nonprofit Summit Recycling Project part of the county’s landfill operation. The commissioners are concerned that when the landfill fills up in 25-50 years, it will be difficult and expensive to find another landfill site nearby.


Recycle in Silverthorne

Waste Management in Silverthorne needs people to be more vigilant about what is and what is not recyclable. The following is Waste Management’s list of what can and cannot be recycled at the drop-off – weekdays only – from 8 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. on Brian Avenue between Third and Fourth streets across from the Silverthorne Post Office:

Newspapers (Inserts are okay. No plastic bags.)

Magazines (Inserts are okay. No plastic bags.)

Corrugated cardboard (Remove all packing materials, brown bags okay. No single-layer paperboard like detergent boxes, paper towel rolls, no soap bar boxes or beer and soda carriers.)

Commingled containers

Aluminum and tin cans (No frozen dinner trays, pie plates, foil or food containers. No plastic bags.)

Plastic bottles with recycle code symbols 1 or 2 only including 2-liter soda bottles, detergent bottles and milk jugs. (No plastic bags, pool chemical containers, dinnerware or frozen dinner trays, clear food containers or plastic cups.)

Glass includes food and beverage containers only. (No pottery, window glass or light bulbs. No plastic bags.)

Christine McManus can be contacted at (970) 668-3998, ext. 229 or at

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