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Curbside recycling works

Officials in Summit County say they’re ahead of Aspen, Colo., when it comes to recycling.

Eighteen percent of the waste in Summit County is recycled compared to Aspen which recycles about 16 percent, Summit County Public Works Administrator Kevin Callahan said.

"For the West we’re probably going to become one of the most innovative and progressive," Callahan claimed.

By 2010 officials hope to be recycling 30 percent of the waste in the county, Summit County Commissioner Bob Richer said.

This could result in the recycling of 18,425 tons.

"We’re setting an achievable goal," Richer said. "We don’t need to go from zero to 60 in 10 seconds."

In 2007 Summit County recycled 9,110 tons of material, according to Callahan.

Public curbside-recycling programs accounted for 25 percent of the material, he explained.

Landfill recycling programs accounted for about four percent of the total.

To encourage recycling Summit County Commissioner Sally Elliott said the cost to throw items away should increase.

"I’m wondering at what point we should have a discussion with the public about charging for landfill and throwing things away," Elliott said at the weekly meeting of the County Commission in Coalville Sept. 17.

Richer called that matter "a quality of life issue."

"It impacts air, water and land resources," he said.

About half the people in the county have curbside recycling, Richer said.

"The first thing I think that we should do is to expand our residential curbside recycling program," Richer said.

Taxpayers subsidize the free service with about $400,000, Richer explained, adding that extending the service countywide could cost an additional $650,000.

"There are real costs associated with this," Richer said.

Usable items disposed of at the landfill might end up at a "recycle mall" where they could be reused, Elliott said.

But Summit County spokesman Cliff Blonquist warned officials not to require people to recycle.

"Hopefully we don’t get into mandatory recycling," Blonquist said. "If we provide the apparatus the public is going to follow."

Recycling is important to his constituents, Richer said.

"Our citizens want to feel in Summit County that we’re a very green county," Richer said.


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