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Town pitches in on disposal of hazardous waste, drugs, leaves

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“[Carbondale] has a good philosophy” about recycling and protecting the environment, says Laurie Lindberg of the Town’s Public Works Department. Our residents will have a chance to demonstrate that commitment at the department’s upcoming semiannual Hazardous Waste Day from 8 a.m. to 2 p.m. on Saturday, Oct. 26.

The free event is an opportunity for residents to get rid of an array of household items such as paints, car batteries, antifreeze, pesticides, light bulbs and other hazardous materials that should not be disposed of in the general waste stream. Most items can be dropped off at the parking lot at Fourth Street and Colorado Avenue, just east of Town Hall. A more complete list of items accepted can be found on the Town’s website on its events calendar.

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In addition, e-waste items – including old computers, monitors, printers and printer cartridges, televisions and single-use batteries – will be accepted for safe recycling or disposal in the parking lot behind Town Hall. Also, on Oct. 26, the Carbondale Police Department will host its Drug Take Back Day. People can drop off unused prescription drugs at no charge at its window in Town Hall (same hours, 8 to 2).

Lindberg, who is the point person for the day, noted that there is a cost for the event. The department has budgeted $18,000 for the hazmat portion of it, which is being conducted by CleanHarbors out of Denver. They will be monitoring the collection of materials, and once that dollar amount is reached, “They will shut it down,” she said.

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The e-waste component, operated by CoRRecycling, Inc., of Grand Junction, is being partially subsidized by the Town, but when the subsidy limit is met, a small fee will be collected on items dropped off after that point.

To toss or not to toss …

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While there is no question that hazardous materials should be disposed of in an environmentally safe and responsible manner, there is the issue of what to do with the vast quantity of yard waste generated in Carbondale annually.

For many years each fall, the Town has provided dumpster containers in the Colorado Avenue lot for collecting leaves and branches. This year the collection started on Oct. 11 and will run at least until Nov. 6. Once the containers of leaves are full, they are transported to various ranches, where they are composted. The branches are hauled off to landfill sites.

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There is a problem, though.

Lindberg, who is also spearheading the leaf program, observed that people have been good about keeping plastic and paper bags and other containers out of the leaf bins, as requested by signs posted in front at the site. However, she expressed concerned that non-leaf materials – sticks, plants and other yard waste – have been dumped into the leaf containers.  These contaminate the load for composting purposes and mean that they, too, must be disposed of in landfills. The cost for dumping each container is $425, which not only is an additional cost to the Town but defeats the purpose of keeping a large volume of material out of the dumps.

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Lindberg thought that the problem of contamination has been worse so far this year than in the past. Additional signage has now been posted that more clearly explains what not to put in the leaf containers. Again, she emphasized, “No yard waste!”

That begs a larger question, though: what does one do with all of that yard waste? Leaves not placed in the municipal containers can be used over the winter as mulch on garden beds and lawns, and they are a good addition to home compost piles. Likewise, sticks and branches can be burned, weather and fire-safety conditions permitting.

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The only method for disposing of the remaining yard waste at the moment is to bag it up and include it with household trash. At least a partial solution is forthcoming, though. As part of the Town’s new trash contract, Mountain Waste will begin collecting yard waste next year on two Saturdays per month (except in July) from May through September.

Right now, two ranches are in the leaf-composting program, and Lindberg would welcome more participation. Any nearby ranches are encouraged to sign up. She can be reached at llindberg@carbondaleco.net or 510-1325.

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