High Country Conservation Center launches app making it easier to recycle in Summit County
Rocky the Recycling Robot has arrived to make recycling in Summit County a breeze. The web app was launched by High Country Conservation Center (HC3) to give residents and visitors in Summit County an easy way to find out whether everyday items can be recycled, composted or disposed of and where to do it.
The app allows a user to “ask” Rocky to look up an item by typing it in a search box. If the item is in app’s database, a result pops up showing what Summit County recommends you do with it.
For example, searching for “aluminum can” brings up a results page informing users that aluminum cans can be recycled at home through single-stream recycling or at recycling locations around Summit County. If an item is not included in the database, users can submit a request to have it added to the database with relevant information about how it should be recycled, composted or disposed of.
HC3 director Jennifer Schenck is excited about the launch of the app, which she said is particularly helpful in informing visitors about local recycling options.
“We have a lot of visitors in Summit County, and one of the biggest challenges is educating them about local recycling rules,” Schenck said. “We find that a lot of people who visit are used to recycling rules at home, but that’s not always the case here.”
Proper glass recycling is one such local rule that visitors often break. Hallie Jaeger, community programs coordinator at HC3, said that placing glass into single-stream recycling bins often causes problems for the recycling facility at the SCRAP landfill, which can’t process glass.
“Glass is not picked up in single-stream recycling because material gets baled at the facility, which breaks the glass and risks injury to workers on the processing line,” Jaeger said. “That broken glass also devalues everything that gets contaminated with glass shards. We encourage everyone to bring glass to recycling drop-off centers, where glass is picked up and sent to Denver where it can be properly processed and recycled into new glass containers.”
Aside from glass, however, most other materials can be recycled through single-stream recycling, including aluminum cans, plastics #1 to #7, mixed paper, and cardboard. Recycling drop-off centers also offer scrap metal recycling and sheds for safe battery disposal. All of that information is provided by the Rocky the Recycling Robot, which was developed by tech company ReCollect which specializes in developing civic technology for local governments.
David Eaves, CEO of ReCollect, said that apps like Rocky have helped hundreds of municipalities use tech to make local government function better.
“We are people who want tech to work better for local governments,” Eaves said. “There’s a whole civil tech movement to make tech more affordable and better for local government. Often there’s a feeling that local government’s tech isn’t quite as good as they find in other places, like the private sector. We feel local governments are key to the vibrancy and success of communities, and so we and a lot of other people in the civic tech movement feel that gap has to close.”
Eaves added the app was also developed with accessibility in mind, so it can be used by almost anyone, including individuals with visual or motor impairments.
To access Rocky the Recycling Robot or more information about Summit County’s recyling program, visit www.highcountry conservation.org/recycle.
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