Frisco Town Council looks forward to the implementation of pay-as-you-throw and universal recycling beginning this year

Frisco and Breckenridge have plans to implement pay-as-you-throw programs, but some Frisco Town Council members questioned why the Summit County government is not yet on board.

Frisco Town Hall is pictured March 1, 2021.
Sawyer D’Argonne/Summit Daily archive

Editor’s Note: This article has been updated to correct the name of the council member quoted in a discussion about the county landfill.

The Frisco Town Council received an update Tuesday, Feb. 14 on pay-as-you-throw and universal recycling programs that local businesses and residents will be required to implement beginning later this year.

Last March, the council passed an ordinance laying out the guidelines for how those two related programs will operate. Hilary Sueoka, the town’s environmental programs coordinator, said at the most recent council meeting that those programs will begin to roll out in the coming months.

“In essence, this is a program to incentivize recycling and increase our diversion rate,” Sueoka said. “And we’re doing that by using pricing.”

One of the aims of pay-as-you-throw and universal recycling is to increase the amount of waste being diverted from landfills to 40% by 2035. The programs align with goals laid out in the Summit Community Climate Action Plan and by Summit County’s Zero Waste Task Force, Sueoka said.

Pay-as-you-throw will provide an economic incentive to reduce waste and recycle more by including recycling along with household trash removal and having differing price points for different size trash bins, she said.

“You’ll pay a slightly higher price if you want a large bin and a slightly lower price if you want a small bin,” Sueoka said. “The middle-sized bin is sort of our basic rate.”

By spring or summer of this year, local trash hauling companies are expected to set the price points for each of the different bin sizes, according to Jennifer Schenk, the executive director of High Country Conservation Center, which is assisting with the implementation of the programs. 

Around the same time haulers announce their rates, High Country Conservation and the town will begin reaching out to residents and businesses through a marketing campaign and on-the-ground efforts, Schenk said. By October, the plan is to have 90% of residents set up with pay-as-you-throw and universal recycling in effect at their homes, she said.

To address residents’ questions, in-person forums will be held in early April in Frisco and Breckenridge — which is also implementing a pay-as-you-throw program — and a virtual forum will also be held.

Schenk also noted that Frisco will have an application process for qualified residents to apply for financial aid. That aid — which will cover the difference if the applicant’s trash bill increases — is open to those who receive or are eligible Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program benefits and earn about 80 percent of the area median income.

On the business end, the goal is to have 50% of local businesses on board by June 1, 2024, and 100% on board by the same date the following year, Schenk said. Businesses will have to have recycling collection on site and have 50% volume of recycling compared to trash, she said.

Across Summit County, Schenk said, about 50% of commercial entities already have recycling in place, so pay-as-you-throw and universal recycling should not be a major change for many.

Elizabeth Skrzypczak-Adrian raised concerns about how the programs will work with a business such as hers that shares a dumpster with other businesses and residences.

“How is that going to work within our little world?” Skrzypczak-Adrian asked. “And then there is just the issue of illegal dumping which means that everyone is going to have to lock their dumpsters.”

Schenk said in communities that have implemented pay-as-you-throw and universal recycling programs, illegal dumping was not as much of a problem as people anticipated before the programs launched.

Moreover, she said, there will be a recycling specialist on the ground ready to assess condo complexes, multifamily units and businesses to figure out how best to implement the programs so that they work for residents and business owners.

“Each situation is unique, and we need to come take a look at the HOA,” Schenk said.

With only Breckenridge and Frisco having moved toward pay-as-you-throw and universal recycling, some councilors raised concerns about the Summit County government not being on board with such programs yet.

“A huge component of this is to limit the amount of trash that is going into [the county’s] landfill,” Andy Aerenson said. “Why are we burdening our residents and our residents with the additional cost to solve a problem that the county doesn’t seem motivated to participate in on their landfill?”

Schenk said that the Summit County Board of Commissioners is expected to discuss pay-as-you-throw on March 7, though she doesn’t expect them to consider an ordinance at that time.

Mayor Hunter Mortensen said that the county will likely discuss how to do pay-as-you-throw programs for neighborhoods in unincorporated Summit County that fall into that “gray area” where people often consider them part of Frisco.

Mortensen added that he believed the Frisco Town Council having a conversation about implementing pay-as-you-throw and moving forward with the program will pressure the county to consider such a program.

“For me it’s just the right thing to do. Period,” he said. “It doesn’t matter what the landfill is doing, the county is doing, Dillon, Silverthorne or Breck.”

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