Ask Eartha: Trash and recycling service changes could be coming to Summit County |

Ask Eartha: Trash and recycling service changes could be coming to Summit County

Rachel Zerowin
Ask Eartha
A forklift picks up recycled cardboard material at the Summit County landfill Nov. 15, 2017, in Dillon. The landfill is set to close in 2056.
Hugh Carey/Summit Daily News archives

Dear Eartha, I live here in the county and own a small business. My neighbor told me about some recent recycling forums and changes in trash collection. What do I need to know? Can residents submit comments?

The forums you’re talking about took place over the past two weeks, when High Country Conservation Center updated residents on changes that may be coming to local trash and recycling collection. Some forums were geared toward residents, and others were focused on businesses. The good news is that both presentations were recorded, and you can watch them at There’s also a survey where, yes, you can submit comments. As with all public processes, your feedback is important!

In order to submit feedback, it’s important to understand what these new programs are and which one might apply to you. Before we get into the details, let’s cover a few basics.

Why take action on waste?

The Summit County landfill is slated to close in 2056. That might seem far away, but you don’t just close a landfill and then start trying to figure out where the trash goes. Can you imagine how much more expensive waste service will become if we’ve got to haul truckloads of trash over a couple of mountain passes on the daily? And besides, it’s our trash. Who’s to say another community would even want (or have room) to accept it in their own landfill.

The short story is that our community needs to start planning now. That’s where the two proposed programs — pay as you throw and universal recycling — play a role. The town of Vail doubled its recycling rate with the programs, meaning that they’re saving lots of space in the landfill. And research has shown that these programs drive people to waste less overall. That’s pretty powerful, especially in a world where so much of what we buy is designed to be used only once.

Pay as you throw

If you use less water and heat at home, your bills are lower. Pay as you throw offers those same savings for trash services. It’s simple: The less you throw away, the less you pay. Recycling service is included for anyone who has trash service, meaning it’s easy to trash less and recycle more.

Under a pay-as-you-throw program, residents will be offered three bin sizes for trash collection. The smallest bin will cost the least, and the price will go up for the medium- and large-size bins. The best part? Recycling will be included with all trash service. And residents can continue using the same trash collection service they already have.

It’s important to keep in mind, though, that pay as you throw only applies to residents who use individual bins or carts for curbside trash collection. If you’re a resident who uses a dumpster for trash, skip ahead to universal recycling.

The estimated start date for pay as you throw is early 2023.

Universal recycling

Many businesses, apartment dwellers and visitors want to recycle. Unfortunately, recycling isn’t even offered for residents at a lot of condos and other properties that use dumpsters for trash collection. Universal recycling is just that — recycling made available at every business, condo or property that has trash service.

Universal recycling will apply to businesses of any size, as well as residents who share dumpsters for trash. If this applies to you, your business or property manager will be required to also have recycling service. And for businesses that have a liquor license — including restaurants and bars — glass recycling collection will be required.

The estimated start date for universal recycling is early 2023, with another one to two years for businesses and properties to phase in the program.

It’s possible I’ve created more questions than answers. And that’s why I’m encouraging you to visit and learn more about both programs. Watch the recordings, take the survey and email the staff at with questions.

Your input is critical in making both programs work for our community.

Rachel Zerowin

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