When Summit County implemented its own recycling program, Insa Riepen, the executive director of recycle Utah, had concerns that the nonprofit may suffer. So when Riepen approached the city to see if they could conduct a traffic study for Woodbine Way, the street just outside the entrance to the Recycle Center, it was to see if numbers were declining.
In the last traffic study, Recycle Utah placed a manual counter that estimated 400 to 500 vehicles on average visiting the center each day. When the city installed a laser counter on Woodbine Way, just past Munchkin Road, so to capture the most accurate numbers, she did not expect the numbers that came in.
From Oct. 16 through Oct. 30, Recycle Utah averaged 1,033 vehicles a day. In 14 days, the laser counter captured 28,910 cars passing through the area.
"From a traffic flow perspective, there are a lot of visitors coming in," said Tyler Poulson, the environmental sustainability program manager for Park City Municipal. "Clearly, there are a lot of vehicles circulating that area."
"It was encouraging, just having been at the center a little bit," he added, "to see lots of traffic, lots of people circulating through the area."
Because employees don't park in that area and the street is a dead end, Riepen said she expected the numbers to be fairly accurate in counting the number of people actually using the center.
Recycle Utah also recently signed a contract with Summit County, a first for the nonprofit, and will provide services to the county such as education and distributing information regarding available recycling programs. Recycle Utah has an existing contract with the city to provide similar services inside Park City.
"Even though the county has the new system, which we highly encourage people to use, there are things that cannot go into the curbside bin," she said.
"There was the concern that with the County Curbside program beginning in July, our numbers would go down," she added, "but the staff was still working with a lot people who were coming in, and traffic gridlock was not uncommon out there."
Recycle Utah can take 50 different items, ranging from chunks of styrofoam to guitar strings to electronic waste. The county recycle plan, because it is limited in its resources, recycles plastics, aluminum and paper material such as cardboard and newspaper.
The nonprofit did see a dip in plastics dropped off at the center, but glass and other commonly recycled materials remain a large part of what the local plant processes to be recycled.
"People are coming here to drop off recyclables, to check out the reuse facility," Riepen said, "but the overall message here is that our audience in Summit County specifically in Park City is so much more environmentally aware than in other communities. They need to be given kudos."