Summit County brought in a record haul of recyclables and hazardous waste during its recycling and cleanup day last month |

Summit County brought in a record haul of recyclables and hazardous waste during its recycling and cleanup day last month

Disposed cans of insecticide and other hazardous household chemicals are seen in this file photo. Summit County residents dropped off over four tons of hazardous household waste during the county's annual recycling and cleanup day on May 18.
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Summit County continues to top itself when it comes to cleaning up the community. The county’s annual recycling and cleanup day on May 18 netted a record haul of recyclables and hazardous waste despite terrible weather.

The county finished counting up the disposed items this week. In total, 736 vehicles braved the sleet and snow to drop off items at the Summit Stage bus barn. They dropped off a total of 14.3 tons of electronic waste, 4.3 tons of hazardous household waste, 5.7 tons of latex paint, 1.2 tons of textiles and clothing, and 201 pounds of discarded or expired pharmaceuticals and needles.

“We’ve never had that many people come out for recycling day before,” said County Commissioner Elisabeth Lawrence. “Even though people can take hazardous mats to the landfill, for free, we saw a lot of people that saved up for that day. It’s a day when the community comes together to do some good, and we are so pleased they came out and paid attention to what they were bringing.”

The May 18 recycling event was free to all Summit County residents and property owners, and funded through the Summit County Safety First Fund, which was approved by voters in 2014.

Notable in the items collected were the hundreds of pounds of pharmaceuticals, which were collected for safe disposal by the sheriff’s office. Disposing of potentially dangerous medication properly keeps the drugs out of the landfill and water supply.

“It was a huge success,” said Sheriff Jaime FitzSimons. “It’s so important to get rid of pharmaceuticals for safe disposal to keep them off the streets, out of our water supply, and out of our schools. It’s especially important considering the substance abuse issues here.”

Trace pharmaceuticals have become an emerging problem in public water supplies across the country. However, they are so hard to detect that current technology hasn’t come up with a viable method of finding or understanding their health and environmental impact.

“Even the world’s best scientists don’t yet know what the low-level presence of these substances in water mean to human health,” Denver Water stated on its frequently asked questions page regarding trace pharmaceuticals. “Testing technology is so new, most commercial labs are not equipped to analyze for these compounds. Consequently, EPA has no current or proposed regulations for these substances.”

Considering how little we know about the impact pharmaceuticals have, residents are urged to help keep drugs out of the water as a critical priority for communities residing near one of the most important watersheds in the country.

FitzSimons reminded residents that there are multiple safe disposal sites for pharmaceuticals across the county. Medications can be dropped of for disposal 24/7 at the sheriff’s office at 501 North Park Ave. in Breckenridge.

Two other safe disposal sites are open during business hours. In Frisco, pharmaceuticals can be disposed of at Prescription Alternatives, located at 610 E. Main St. Dillon, Silverthorne and Keystone residents can safely dispose at the Dillon Town Hall, located at 275 Lake Dillon Drive.

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