Recycling Up 6% In Estes Park
By: Kris Hazelton
Two years ago, Town Trustee John Ericson gave the League of Women Voters and the Recycling Committee a notice from the Colorado Municipal League that the Colorado Department of Health and Environment was offering grants to cities to help their recycling efforts.
Many are aware that in the Estes Valley, the recycling effort is in need of improvement. The group was eager to secure this grant and they submitted the request by way of Recycling Committee member Anne Morris who wrote out the detailed plan of action.
Much to their delight, the efforts of the Recycling Committee did not go unnoticed as earlier this year, they learned the Colorado Dept. of Health and Environment would award them $18,350 to help purchase new trash cans and recycle bins for our community. The effort was to be a co-op with the Town who purchased 24 trash cans and the League of Women Voters and the Recycling Committee who purchased 24 bear resistant trash and recycle receptacles. The units were ordered and delivered and the Town installed them earlier this spring.
This week members of the State committee came to Estes Park to inspect the new receptacles. The group met with Town employees and members of the League of Women Voters and Recycling Committee so they could see for themselves where the trash cans and recycling bins were placed and to make sure installations were up to grant specifications.
Town Operations Manager Kevin McEachern led the shuttle tour and he told inspectors that with this project, the goal was to do three things. Add trash and recycle containers in as many places as possible and make them bear proof.
Last summer, many will remember bears getting into trash cans was a huge problem, partly because of the drought we experienced in the Estes Valley and partly because we didn’t have bear proof trash cans anywhere in town. It was a free meal for a hungry bear! In order to keep bears wild and keep them from becoming human habituated and relying on trash as their main source of food, it is our responsibility to make sure trash isn’t available to be an item on any bear’s menu.
Town leaders figured out that bears got into trash cans overnight, when bears are most active so it was decided to collect trash from these town trash/recycle containers between 7-11 p.m., to help cut down any possible bear raids. This move has proven very effective to help curb the black bears access to any food scraps they might forage for in the bins.
Kevin also explained to inspectors that Town employees first put the new trash/recycle containers where ever there were problems with bears last season and in the higher people traffic areas such as at the Visitor’s Center and at the west end of town, near Performance Park.
The good news that has already come from this is that recycling is up 6% from last year. Where there was an 11-1 ratio of trash to recycle last year, this year it is down to 4-1.
State inspectors were impressed with the placement and fast usage of these new containers and were happy to help be part of the solution in our battle to encourage more recycling and lessen our problem with bears getting into the trash.
It’s time we all realize the importance of recycling and that good environmental stewardship is vital to our future and the future of generations to come. We must strive to use less land for landfills because now, we can recycle so much that we used to just think of as trash.
The Recycling Committee keeps a list of items that can be recycled. Go to recycleestes.org for more information.