Dillon is seeking solutions for the town’s recycling site, where users frequently dump garbage | SummitDaily.com

Dillon is seeking solutions for the town’s recycling site, where users frequently dump garbage

Piles of garbage dumped outside Dillon's recycling bin.
Courtesy Kelly Russo / town of Dillon

DILLON — The town of Dillon is asking residents to use more care when utilizing the recycling drop-off site after a number of issues have cropped up during the past year.

The town of Dillon offers one of a few sites in the county for residents and visitors to drop off their recycling, but in recent months, the bin has been overrun by non-recyclable garbage and contaminated recyclable products dumped in the parking lot. Dillon, working in partnership with Summit County, is looking to fix the problem.

“This was set up as an amenity for Dillon residents,” said Kerstin Anderson, Dillon’s marketing and communications director. “Now we think we’re seeing a combination of things happening. I think the trash-hauling issue in the county has something to do with it, because we’re seeing just a lot of trash being dumped out there. We’re also seeing contaminants in the recycling, and we think that’s just an education problem. We want to do more to help people understand what they can and can’t recycle.

“I think people want to do the right thing. What I want to get across is when a bin is full, dumping recycling or trash is not helping. It’s doing more harm than good. It’s getting contaminated and thrown away.”

Part of the issue is volume. Dillon traditionally picked up recycling from the site three times a week, but in July, the town began moving the recycling every day during the workweek. While the tweak in service has helped to make a difference, weekends are still a major problem. Anderson called Saturday and Sunday the biggest “pain points” in the program, noting that town staff is often left to deal with disorganized dumping outside the bin every Monday.

The other problem is a fundamental misunderstanding of what is allowed in the bin and what isn’t. The bin isn’t a single-stream site, meaning recycling has to be sorted before being dropped off and can’t be bagged. Dillon’s site — located just outside town hall — only accepts No. 1 and No. 2 plastics, glass bottles and jars, mixed paper, cardboard, tin and aluminum. Additionally, recyclables must be prepared before they go in the bin, meaning people should do their best to scrub away food residue, remove lids from jars and flatten boxes.

For a complete list of what recycling products are allowed and where, visit the county’s recycling guide.

Anderson said the town is in the process of developing some new signage to be placed outside the bin that would help residents and visitors better understand whether their recyclables are allowed.

“We’re really wanting to do the right thing and make improvements within the constraints of our resources,” Anderson said. “I’ve been looking at new signage that will help us standardize our labels so that people are recycling right. We understand recycling is different in different areas, so it’s about getting people to better understand what can be recycled here.”

In addition to continued educational efforts, Dillon is working with the county to help address the recent increase in volume. Bentley Henderson, assistant county manager, said the county is looking at opportunities to alleviate the issue in the short and long term.

Henderson said the county is looking at alternatives including working with the town to create more frequent pickups or to add a second container at the site. The county also is hoping to add another recycling drop-off site in Silverthorne later this year. The proposed location for the new site is near the baseball fields, and the county is engaged in discussions with Denver Water, Silverthorne and the Lower Blue Planning Commission to make it happen. Henderson said that while there’s still a lot of moving parts in the project, the goal is to open a new site this fall.

“I think we’re trying — and Dillon would agree — to do whatever we can to get people the resources they need, and to encourage folks to recycle and keep things out of the landfill,” Henderson said. “Whatever steps we need to take, we’re happy to jump on those opportunities.”

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