Ask Eartha Steward: Recycling opportunities |

Ask Eartha Steward: Recycling opportunities

High Country Conservation Center
High Country Conservation Center

Hey Eartha: Isn’t there a day each Spring when I can bring my computers and paint to be recycled for free? Why haven’t I heard anything about it?

” Marsha, Dillon

Well, Marsha, you may be dating yourself as a longtime resident of Summit County since we haven’t had free collection days in many a moon. Long past are the days when you had to wait for a whole year to safely dispose of your paint, pesticides, cleaners, televisions and other odd recyclables.

Now, we are among the fortunate few communities in America that have year-round collection of Household Hazardous Waste (like paint, pesticides, and other toxic household materials), E-waste (toxic electronics, like computers, TVs and monitors), slash and wood waste, and countless other recyclables.

Following is an overview of the abundant options we have here in Summit County.

And if you haven’t had the chance to check out the Summit County Resource Allocation Park (SCRAP), located off of Highway 6 near Keystone on Landfill Road, now’s your chance. From scrap metal and appliances to wood slash and computers, you can recycle all of these materials in one stop ” year-round!

Let’s start with the toxic stuff. Household Hazardous Waste (HHW) includes all those common but potentially hazardous materials found in our homes, under our sinks, tucked away in the recesses of the garage, or stowed in basement and crawl spaces.

I’m talking about paint, thinners, stain, cleaners, de-greasers, sealants, coolant, mercury switches and thermometers, pesticides, herbicides, and other such things.

HHW can generally be identified by the warning labels on the containers. Key words, like warning, hazardous, caution, flammable, or reactive are good indicators that a product should be handled as HHW. Or, many products have special handling instructions (use gloves, wear a mask, etc.) or even disposal guidelines that indicate a product may be hazardous.

HHW should never be poured down the drain or put in the trash. Even rinsing out pesticide containers or flammable liquids can present problems for our local wastewater treatment plants.

The Summit County HHW Program is located at SCRAP and accepts material during regular operating hours (Monday through Friday, 7 a.m. to 4 p.m. or Saturdays, 8 a.m. to noon) May through October each year, or by appointment in the winter. The first five gallons of HHW are free for Summit County residents, after that its $1 per gallon.

Some materials you may think of as HHW are so common that they are accepted at the drop-off centers in Frisco (County Commons, across from the Animal Shelter) and Breckenridge (County Road 450, near 7-Eleven). Used motor oil and oil filters, as well as any type of battery (auto, alkaline, rechargeable, etc), are collected year-round at the drop-off centers ” free of charge.

Electronic materials like computers, laptops, TVs or computer monitors contain toxic heavy metals (like cadmium, zinc, and lead) and can contain mercury, a very potent neuro-toxin. These items, called E-waste, can be recycled any time at SCRAP during regular operating hours.

There are small fees, $5 per computer or monitor and $10 per TV, to help cover a portion of the cost of recycling. These materials are all recycled in the U.S. in compliance with all human and environmental health regulations.

Appliances, like stoves, dishwashers, hot water heaters, washing machines and dryers, can be recycled for $5 at SCRAP any time of the year during regular operating hours. Refrigerators and air conditioners are a specific type of appliance that contain Freon gas, an ozone depleting material that is regulated by the state.

The Summit County Resource Allocation Park is not allowed to accept any refrigerator or Freon-containing appliance until the Freon has been removed by a certified professional.

Any local appliance store can remove Freon and provide the necessary documentation for a fee. Or, Jimbo’s Appliances (1-888-724-0604) will come to your house and take your refrigerator, remove the Freon, and recycle it all for one $75 fee. It may sound expensive, but it’s really a bargain.

Coincidentally, SCRAP also accepts scrap metal for $5 a ton or a $5 minimum fee.

Scrap metal is generally anything that is 70 percent metal or more and can contain a variety of metal types. You can also responsibly get rid of your slash, from trimming your trees or removing beetle-infested trees, for $25 a ton. Construction wood waste is a little less expensive at $15 per ton.

Here in Summit County, we have so many options to responsibly dispose of or recycle those strange materials that accumulate in our homes or garages. And there’s no reason to wait until spring cleanup to clear out your clutter. For more information on any of the recycling programs listed above, call the High Country Conservation Center at (970) 668-5703, where our recycling gurus and geeks can get you the info you need.

And remember, after you’ve cleaned out your garage or yard, be sure to help clean up your community. There’s a lot of orphaned trash under that seemingly ever-present snow that needs some attention.

Eartha Steward is written by Carly Wier and Jennifer Kirkpatrick, consultants on all things eco and chic at the High Country Conservation Center, a nonprofit 501(c)3 organization dedicated to waste reduction and resource conservation in our mountain community. Eartha believes that you can walk gently on our planet, even if you’re wearing stylie shoes.

Eartha Steward is written by Carly Wier, Jennifer Kirkpatrick and Beth Orstad, consultants on all things eco and chic at the High Country Conservation Center, a nonprofit 501(c)3 organization dedicated to waste reduction and resource conservation in our mountain community. Eartha believes that you can walk gently on our planet, even if you’re wearing stylie shoes.

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