As of April 9, 2021, public drop-off sites for recycling are closed due to Angel of Shavano Recycling’s departure. In response to the lack of subsidized public recycling drop-off locations, the Greater Arkansas River Nature Association (GARNA), Chaffee County Government, and the associated municipalities and organizations, including the Salida Sustainability Committee, are actively evaluating alternative recycling options. However, this will take some time to ensure the right investments are made for systems that will meet the local communities’ needs and offer long-term solutions for Chaffee County.

“In the meantime, we need your help keeping recyclable materials out of the Chaffee County landfill,” says GARNA Executive Director, Dominique Naccarato. “GARNA’s research and data analysis, under the direction of Dr. Erica Gift, showed that Angel of Shavano’s recycling service helped keep 1,500 tons of material out of the landfill in 2019. That’s equivalent to 850 mid-sized cars. Our landfill has an estimated 90 years left based on its size and current use but may reach its maximum capacity much sooner if we don’t divert as much solid waste and household trash as we can. If we cannot sustain waste diversion efforts and substantially increase recycling rates in Chaffee County, we will run out of space. GARNA is not getting into the recycling business, but we are doing everything we can to educate about the options and help find solutions to protect our environment and our landfill.”

When asked, “What can I do now?” Naccarato urges residents to take all or some of the following steps to help immediately reduce waste generation in the first place and continue household recycling efforts:

  1. Purchase items that have minimal to no packaging. For example, instead of purchasing lettuce in a plastic container that is expensive and difficult to recycle, purchase lettuce that has no packaging. Use your reusable beverage container instead of buying bottled water. By reducing single-use packaging and containers, the less waste is in the system in the first place.
  2. Buy local! Support local producers through farmer’s markets and Community Supported Agriculture. More information is available at foodshedalliance.com and guidestonecolorado.org
  3. Sign up for curbside single-stream pick up. There are multiple options for recycling in Chaffee County. Residents interested in curbside recycling options can reach out to local waste haulers: Chaffee County Waste (https://tellercountywaste.com/chaffee-county-waste/; 719.395.6656) and Waste Management (wm.com/colorado; 719.539-6911). Shamrock Disposal will also begin curbside commingled recycling service on June 1 (719-239-4854). There is a cost associated with recycling and curbside pick-up (just like paying for your trash pick-up).
  4. Register for a Community Event. If you cannot afford curbside pick-up and would like to recycle, or curbside waste haulers with recycling options don’t service your area, sign up for one of the upcoming community recycling drop-off events being sponsored by GARNA through support from Chaffee County Waste. These events were designed to provide Chaffee County residents with recycling drop-off if they cannot access other options right now.

Friday, May 21, from 10 a.m.-2 p.m. in Buena Vista at Buena Vista Public Works Shop, 755 Gregg Dr. 
Registration is required and costs $1: http://bit.ly/GARNA-May21

Registrants for these two pilot events can drop off clean No. 1-7 plastics, aluminum, glass and cardboard. Items don’t need to be presorted but must be clean and dry and cannot be in plastic bags. Volunteers will be on hand to monitor what goes into the recycling bin and prevent contamination. To volunteer, sign up at the Chaffee County Community Foundation’s Volunteers in Action (VIA) Chaffee platform at https://www.viachaffee.org/need/detail/?need_id=582749.

Due to the high interest anticipated for these events, we ask the whole community help ensure there is sufficient capacity for households that cannot access the curbside recycling service options.  Chaffee County Waste has graciously donated one 30-yard dumpster for each event day and it may fill quickly so if you have other options such as curbside, please use them! Start with refusing unnecessary packaging and reusing items when possible.

“We’ve heard many inspiring solutions about neighbors teaming up to share the cost of one curbside single-stream recycling bin, and self-monitoring to ensure that their bin remains free from contamination,” says Naccarato. “We’ve also heard about homes that can’t receive curbside service (in unincorporated areas of the county) partnering with neighbors to find a place for a recycling dumpster and sharing the service. With solutions like these, we think we’ll actually be able to substantially increase our waste diversion rate, if the community takes advantage of existing services.”

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