Aspen, Colorado, officials weigh costs, benefits of recycling drop-off center

Aspen, Colorado, officials weigh costs, benefits of recycling drop-off center

Aspen City Council may not reallocate funds to pay for center's operations.

February 5, 2019

Pitkin County, Colorado, is discontinuing funding for hauling services at a recycling drop-off center at Rio Grande Park, Colorado, to focus on waste diversion programs at the county’s landfill.

According to a news article in the Aspen Daily News, Aspen City Council has agreed to pay for hauling services through the end of the year, but it’s uncertain whether the city will pay for the services going forward into 2020.

Last year, Pitkin County paid $225,000 to Waste Management to haul materials to Denver. The city says it can’t support the annual subsidy of $150,000 to $300,000 for the recycling drop-off center’s operations without reallocating funds from other priorities.

Aspen Daily News reports the drop-off recycling center is “well-used” by businesses and residents, with 150 to 250 trips being made per day. In 2017, users dropped off 1,160 tons of material, diverting 20 percent of the city’s waste stream into recycling.

The closure of the drop-off center could affect Colorado’s already low recycling rate of 11 percent compared with the 80 percent rate achieved by San Francisco, where recycling and composting are required.

According to the article, the city discussed moving the recycling center to alleviate traffic delays experienced by waste haulers, but the relocation could result in a decrease of use by the public. The city plans to develop a public outreach process to gather community input around the recycling drop-off program and the city’s long-term environmental goals.