Recycle Utah offers a CHaRMing program
May 22, 2015
Recycle Utah wants to charm Summit County.
"For years we have accepted items that are historically not usually part of a recycling operation and that’s where CHaRM comes in," said Recycle Utah Executive Director Insa Riepen. "CHaRM means Center for Hard to Recycle Materials."
Those materials include winter-sports items, bike tires and inner tubes, wooden pallets, batteries and electronic waste, Riepen explained.
"Since we live in a big winter-sports Mecca, we have found a way to recycle skis, snowboards, poles and boots," she said. "These have laminates that are pressed together and it takes millions of years to break down, so it’s our job to find a solution to break down these materials. We ship them off to be grinded down into a secondary material for something yet to come. This does cost money, but we do hope people will bring us their stuff."
During the warmer months, the skis and snowboards make way for mountain bikes and hikers, so Recycle Utah, a nonprofit organization, has reached out to local bike shops and bike owners to bring in used tires and tubes.
"We sort them and take them to our landfill, where they are processed," Riepen said. "They are turned into new tires or fuel."
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As far as the wooden pallets go, Riepen knows they don’t fit into garbage cans or curb-side recycling bins.
"So bringing them here is a great option," she said. "We deal with a company that picks them up and either repairs them or shreds them. They turn the pallets into pellets for wood stoves."
Other CHaRM services include recycling any type of battery, mobile phones, mp3 players and oils, grease and fats.
"We have added a commercial-grade shredder as well and this allows paper companies to bail the shreds to turn it into new paper," Riepen said.
Recycle Utah can now accept packaging Styrofoam that is used to protect household appliances.
"You can drop it off and we process it and ship it out to be recycled," she said. "We don’t accept Styrofoam food packages, so we just ask people not to use those."
In addition to the CHaRM program, Recycle Utah has a warehouse that accepts materials that are to be reused, according to Riepen.
"Reuse is always better than recycling, so if you have any items that qualify for the warehouse — building materials, cabinets, doors, windows and hard-wood flooring, anything that can be used to make a shed or finish a basement — we will accept them," she said.
Recycle Utah works with Reuse People of America, a nonprofit organization that "reduces the solid waste stream and changes the way the built environment is renewed by salvaging building materials and distributing them for reuse," according to its mission statement.
"The trend is to get away from the rustic, mountain-style décor and go more contemporary," Ripen said. "So we’re seeing a lot of soft-stripping, which means you hire someone to come into your condo or home to remove everything thing from the inside so you can modernize.
"All the stripped material is still perfectly good and can be brought here for people to pick up and use," she said. "For example, we had three pallets of hickory flooring that was picked up by a young couple who were going to use it for their new home."
The goal of these programs is to keep reusable material out of the landfill.
"We pay to get cardboard, plastics and glass recycled," Riepen said. "We ask for grants and donations. However, if everyone dropped off one dollar every time they came to recycle something, we wouldn’t have to ask for grants, because we get between 300 to 500 people who come every day to recycle things."
All of the Recycle Utah services offered are in addition to curbside service.
"That’s because the curbside service is limited," Riepen said. "It can’t accept glass, because the sorting facility doesn’t want glass mixed with corrugated cardboard and paper. The reason is because glass shatters into little pieces and devalues the monetary value of the cardboards, paper and plastic."
So, if anyone has glass they want to recycle, they just need to take it to Recycle Utah bins.
"Much to the chagrin of my staff, we are open 24 hours a day, seven days a week for recycling drop-off of material that can go into our bins," Riepen said. "On Sundays, the office and warehouse are closed, but the bins are open."
For more information about Recycle Utah and its services, visit http://www.recycleutah.org.