By John Colson
Sopris Sun Staff Writer
Carbondale’s increasingly popular Spring Clean-up and Waste Reduction Day, scheduled for April 29 from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. and sponsored by the town’s Environmental Board and Public Works Department, is expanding this year to include recycling of mattresses, ink and toner cartridges for printers, and other electronic devices.
And, according to organizer Julia Farwell, chair of the E-Board and member of the Waste Diversion subcommittee of that board, volunteers will be handing out twice as much compost as was distributed last year, thanks to an expected increase in demand.
And for the first time, she said, the town is accepting mattresses for recycling at a cost of $10 each. The town also is accepting “textiles,” or clothing and shoes, which must be separated into plastic bags (one for shoes, the other for clothes) in order to be accepted.
Farwell emphasized, however, that the April 29 event does not include hazardous household wastes such as motor oil and other substances, mostly liquids, that are toxic and not meant for local landfills. The household hazardous waste collection day will happen in October, she said.
In general, offer of free (or inexpensive) recycling programs is subsidized out of the town’s bag-ban-fee account, which collects fees from the City Market grocery store under a ban on plastic shopping bags adopted in 2011 (the ban affects only grocery stores of 3,500 square feet or more).
According to Finance Director Renae Gustine, the town charges a fee of 20 cents per bag issued to customers who come to the store without reusable grocery bags, though the store gets to keep $100 per month to offset its costs for managing the bag-ban arrangement.
According to records kept by Farwell, last year the Waste Reduction Day was subsidized to the tune of just over $12,500 from the bag-fee fund, which included $133 for food offered to participants on the day of the event, and $483 for advertising in area newspapers. Additionally, the fund covered nearly $7,000 in tipping fees at local landfill sites, for organic yard waste, metals and general trash.
Costs rise a bit
This year, Farwell reported, the day’s activities are budgeted to cost $14,227 in total funding from the bag-fee fund, which stood at slightly more than $40,000 as of Jan. 1, 2017.
The Waste Reduction Day this year happens to coincide with National Drug Take-Back Day, an annual program that permits householders to bring in expired or unwanted medicines or prescriptions for proper disposal, to keep the drugs from polluting landfills and sewer treatment systems.
In Carbondale, citizens can bring their unwanted drugs to the Carbondale Police Department, located in Town Hall at 511 Colorado Ave., between 10 a.m. and 2 p.m. on April 29.
The day’s main events, however, will take place on private property straddling Colorado Avenue at the intersection with North Fourth Street, across from Town Hall.
And among the new features this year will be a semi-tractor parked in the lot just north of Town Hall, for collection of what is expected to be 30,000 pounds of electronic waste, known as “e-waste” — computer equipment, televisions, laptops, cell phones, stereo equipment and more — which also is far more than has been dropped off in the past.
For general household waste (yard waste, appliances, furniture, etc.) the fee for a “regular” pick-up truck load will be $10 for Carbondale residents ($25 for non-residents), and for a “large” pick-up load the fee will be $20 for residents and $35 for non-residents.
As for the e-waste, Farwell said, much of the stuff will be accepted for free from Carbondale residents, or for a fee of 30-cents per pound for large items. Businesses and non-residents, Farwell said, will be charged 30-cents per pound for all electronic waste.
And according to a flier about the waste diversion day (available on the town’s website, www.carbondalegov.org) data destruction for computers is available “off-site” for a fee of $10.
Once the e-waste load has reached 30,000 pounds, Farwell said, the 30-cent-per-pound fee will be assessed on all further loads.
As has become customary, the Waste Diversion volunteers also will be accepting used tires for recycling, at nominal costs that vary according to the size of the tire. All tires turned in for recycling must be free of rocks and dirt in order to be accepted.
For a complete list of items that will be accepted on April 29, and the fees that will be charged for certain services, go to the town’s website home page and click on the Waste Diversion Day link.
The online flier also describes educational booths and giveaways that will be part of the day’s activities, offering information about how residents can reduce and divert their personal volume of waste year-round and how to take advantage of publicly sponsored energy-efficiency upgrades to homes and businesses.Each household can also exchange an LED bulb for a spent CFL or incandescent bulb to be recycled, as well as reusable shopping bags and recycling guides.
Waste Diversion steps it up
Farwell, in an interview with The Sopris Sun, said this year’s Waste Diversion Day is expected to bring in record amounts of recyclable items, and to see record volumes of compost being distributed to area gardeners and others.
In 2016, she said, volunteers had given away more than 8,000 pounds of compost by 11:30 a.m., and approximately 16,000 pounds by the end of the day, all of it from the Pitkin County Landfill.
Roughly the same amount of compost, or more, is expected to be distributed this year.
In a memo to the town Board of Trustees, Farwell reported that she has been working with the town’s public works department to make sure that the recycling mission is accomplished smoothly and efficiently.
She particularly noted that Public Works Director Kevin Schorzman “has developed a comprehensive RFP to ensure the maximum amount of waste than can be diverted is actually diverted” as well as a record-keeping system that will allow Waste Diversion organizers to track the loads of recyclables and other material from the collection point to their final destinations.
Overall, Farwell emphasized, the goal is to help citizens recycle as much as they can and thus keep as much material as possible from being sent to the area’s landfills, all of which are said to be under pressure and nearing capacity levels.