Although Summit County has a countywide curbside recycling program and many residents are environmentally-minded, contamination in recycling has become a problem according to Republic Services. Glass being placed in recycling bins is a big issue.
Republic Services has been contracted to pick up curbside recycling, subcontracting about 3,500 homes out to County Curb It. But according to Republic Services, they have noticed that a fair number of households are not sorting their recyclables properly.
"What we have found is that, because of the transient nature of the individuals that live in certain areas in Park City the contamination is very high in regard to Summit County, and a big offender is glass," said Reece DeMille, Republic Services' manager of municipal services and government affairs for Northern Utah, who added that a factor may be the amount of rented residences in the Park City area.
Recycling centers do not accept glass mixed with other recyclables, but it is often difficult for workers who pick up bins to notice the glass until they are unloaded into a truck, DeMille said. If a recycling bin contains glass, the entire bin must be tagged as non-recyclable material.
A problem on the East Side, DeMille said, is individuals who put deer and elk carcasses and even tires in recycling bins. Republic Services is doing all it can to educate residents about what can and cannot go in recycling bins.
Items such as glass that cannot be part of commingled recycling bins should be taken to centers such as Recycle Utah in Park City, DeMille said.
When Summit County started its curbside recycling program roughly nine years ago, DeMille said the primary goal was to prolong the life of Three Mile Landfill.
Tracy Skenandore, Republic Services' head of marketing and public relations for Salt Lake City, Denver and Las Vegas, said it is also important to inform consumers about the environmental impacts of their purchasing habits.
"Try to see if there are ways to not purchase glass if [you know] it's harder to recycle in your area," Skenandore said. "As residents, it's important that we each take ownership of what our role is in recycling."
Republic Services has distributed fliers and what and what not to recycle, has distributed containers that say "No Glass" and is working with Summit County on posting a video to its site that shows the life cycle of recyclable materials.
DeMille said that glass is a very expensive product to recycle, especially if a center has to ship it a considerable distance. Skenandore said Republic Services is always looking to better inform residents about recycling.
"Think about your lifestyle and your carbon footprint [when buying products]," Skenandore said. "Can that materials impact be recycled?"
For more information on proper recycling practices, visit republicservices.com/site/utah.