Summit County maps out plan for reducing solid waste
Summit County staffers have been working on a long-term plan for managing solid waste and will be presenting the proposal to the County Council on Wednesday.
Last year, staffers were charged with re-working the county’s solid waste management plan that was developed and adopted in 2008 to include more realistic ways to divert waste from the Three Mile Landfill and encourage environmentally sustainable practices such as recycling and composting.
Officials estimate that the landfill, which is located near Rockport Reservoir, only has enough space to accept waste for about 35 more years. This is thelast year for the existing landfill cell and, in the fall, the county plans on transitioning to a new lined facility for the remaining years.
“We started this plan knowing that in 35 years we will run out of space and that time could be shorter,” said Derrick Radke, Summit County’s public works director. “We have to make choices. The purpose of the plan is to guide us in a different direction and determine what we can do to reduce waste or extend the life of the landfill.”
Summit County’s integrated solid waste program consists of a municipal solid waste landfill — Three Mile Landfill — countywide curbside residential solid waste and recycling collection, including several central dumpster service areas where residences are remote and widely spaced, a household hazardous waste exclusion program and a public education program, according to a county staff report.
The updated draft of the plan includes goals for diverting solid waste, such as reaching a 15 percent reduction of waste going to the landfill by the end of 2023 and 30 percent by the end of 2028. It addresses the creation of various programs, such as the commercial cardboard waste diversion and commercial compositing pilot programs, as well as the identification and designation of a property for a county recycling transfer facility and warehouse for solid waste partners.
“The way we describe it is we have time on our side,” said Janna Young, Summit County’s deputy county manager. “This is the perfect opportunity to start planning what the vision is and how we manage solid waste in the county. Additionally, siting a new landfill is very expensive so this is a good time to begin thinking about funding and planning for that.”
The plan covers current service obligations to maintain programs already in place, development of a landfill with additional cells that will meet state and federal requirements, as well as short- and long-term initiatives.
“We are even looking at creating an ordinance that would require the commercial sector to recycle,” Young said. “We are considering building a recycling center that will help us on costs and allow (waste management company) Republic Services to maintain fleets of trucks here.”
Execution of the plan will require community partners to engage in the educational programs and the residents to make behavioral changes, Young said. She added, “This is about Republic Services coming to your house and picking up the trash you generate in your kitchen, bathroom and yard every week.”
“Where is it all going to go? We really need the community to work with us on this,” she said. “As a county, that is important for us because we manage that. But, if we don’t have a place to put that trash, it impacts our residents’ clean air, clean water and sustainable land.”
Young said staffers will begin discussing the funding required to bring the plan to fruition. She said it will begin as early as this summer when the 2019 budget process begins. The staff report shows an estimated $5.5 million program budget.
Another critical component of the plan is sustaining the county’s ongoing partnership with the nonprofit Recycle Utah. The plan includes the prospect of creating a new location for Recycle Utah and expanding the organization’s educational programs.
“If the Council approves this plan and a future facility, it will be a co-location with them,” she said. “We see it as continuing our wonderful partnership with them.”
Carolyn Wawra, Recycle Utah’s executive director, said she is impressed with the proposed plan and the foresight that it shows from the county.
“There is 35 years left in our current landfill and that is within most of our lifetimes,” she said. “It is a super impressive plan and one big thing that can be brought up is 80 percent of what they are seeing in the landfill could be recycled. We have to be more efficient with what we are doing. I’m excited about the prospect of moving and growing our space. We have to take actions now because what we are putting in our landfill could end up in our water.”
The County Council is scheduled to review the solid waste master plan on Wednesday, April 11. The item is listed as a discussion with the possibility of approval.
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