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Carbondale’s bag fee subsidizing Waste Diversion Day

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Coming April 30

By John Colson

Sopris Sun Staff Writer

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Carbondale residents once again will, at the end of this month, have an opportunity to clear out their collections of junk and gear in a way that not only will give them more space at home but also will benefit the environment by keeping all that junk from ending up in local landfills.

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And the costs of disposing of all that junk will be paid by a program that also has been hailed for its environmental benefits — the town’s five-year old ban on plastic grocery bags and a related fee.

Every time a customer asks for a paper bag to carry their groceries at the Carbondale City Market grocery store, they pay 20 cents for it, and that money accumulates in a fund that is used to subsidize costs associated with the town’s annual Waste Diversion Day (WD Day) and spring clean up.

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This year’s WD Day falls on April 30, from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m., at 4th Street and Colorado Avenue, across from Town Hall.

Carbondale residents can avail themselves of special pricing and “free offers” if they bring a photo ID and a utility bill or vehicle registration to confirm their in-town status.

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For example, for town residents the cost of disposing of a “regular pickup load” of general household waste will be $10. Non-residents will be charged $25. For bigger loads, residents will be charged $20, while non-residents will pay $35.

As has been done in previous events of this kind, WD Day will feature a number of different types of environment-friendly collection sites for household waste, including furniture and appliances (see the town’s website for details about these types of items at carbondalegov.com).

Also accepted will be electronic items such as cell phones, computers, light bulbs, and large and small batteries; large items such as old tires; and other material.

The event is organized by the town’s Environmental Board, known locally as the E-Board, which is made up of nine volunteers who meet regularly and come up with ways to “address environmental issues that may include environmental pollution, solar orientation, water quality, air quality, use of pesticides and herbicides, transportation, water conservation, and recycling and solid waste,” according to a description on the town’s Web site.

Landfill diversions

According to a fact sheet drawn up by E-Board Chair Julia Farwell, there are many reasons to divert waste from the landfill, including the fact that items of trash often contain “resource waiting to be extracted” and reused for other purposes.

In addition, Farwell pointed out, organic waste in land fills deteriorates and generates methane, which is currently considered the most harmful of the greenhouse gases that experts say are contributing to global warming and climate change.

Finally, there is the need to save space in existing landfills, many of which face closure or other difficulties if they continue to fill up as they have in the past.

Farwell has a list of companies who will be taking recyclable items turned in on April 30 to a wide range of recycling operations — such as one that “demanufactures” electronic equipment in Fruita, Colorado, and then ships it to smelters in the U.S., and a processor of old tires in Colorado Springs.

Farwell and her fellow E-Board members lamented that last year too much of the stuff collected on WD Day actually ended up in landfills, although it was not supposed to.

Farwell decided last fall, after that season’s WD Day, to exact pledges from hauling companies working with the WD Day event, to ensure that they would take the recyclable material, as well as lawn and yard waste, to recycling centers rather than simply dumping them at a landfill somewhere.

For textiles and household goods, the E-Board has made arrangements with the Basalt Thrift store to handle the goods for resale and/or recycling. Farwell’s mention of the arrangement, in a summary provided to The Sopris Sun, notes that only clean textiles will be accepted, although “torn and stained items are okay” and adds, “usable textiles and household goods are resold to raise money for charities locally.”

A new program for WD Day calls for locals to turn in their old campaign signs from recent elections, which the E-Board will “repurpose” for Dandelion Day craft uses.

Another new entry in the WD Day event will be a focus on cleaning up litter along the town’s streets and in the parks, a program that was inspired by remarks from outgoing Carbondale Trustee Pam Zentmyer during a discussion between the Board of Trustees and the E-Board.

To facilitate participation by citizens, Farwell reported that the E-Board “will be providing bags and gloves, so stop by and show our parks, streets and trails a little love by picking up litter — not just for this event but year round!”

There also will be free compost, courtesy of EverGreen Events, handing out compost delivered from the Pitkin County landfill’s composting facility, and free LED lights for those who bring in old light bulbs for recycling. The E-Board also will distribute reusable shopping bags and “Waste Free Roaring Fork” booklets outlining some of the waste diversion efforts underway in the valley.

Complete details concerning the WD Day event can be found at the town’s Web site at carbondalegov.org.

Published in The Sopris Sun on April 14, 2016.

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