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I’d like to address the Archuleta County recycling program, or lack thereof. The county government saw fit to serve the refuse company, At Your Disposal, with a cease and desist order. That action raises a red flag and the question, “Why?”
A short chronicle review: Prior to February 8, 2012, the county’s recycle program was a circa-1960’s effort, but with good intent. That intention was and still is to lower the volume of waste going into the county landfill. The inherent problem with the 1960’s technology is that it was a pain in the rear. You had to maintain multiple bins to separate recyclable items; a bin each for paper, cardboard, tin cans, aluminum cans, and glass had to be further separated by the color — green, brown and clear. Interest faded; it was much easier to toss it into the trash, which then ended up in the landfill. But if you were concerned about landfill space, you made an effort to recycle, and the service was free.
On February 8, 2012, a grand opening of the “new” recycle center was celebrated after the county spent $24,500 on a trailer, built a shelter to house the trailer, and bought a truck to haul the trailer. The “influential champion” behind this project (Clifford Lucero) attended, declaring, “Single-stream recycling is now happening in Archuleta County.” There was a very foreboding comment from the Solid Waste Director at the time (Chris Tanner), “It feels good, as long as it all works.” As long as it works???
Shortly thereafter I brought my recycle items into the “new single-stream” recycle center. Since I am not new to single-stream recycling, image my surprise when my recycle items were sifted and scrutinized, some declared ineligible, and other items were directed to other receptacles. The cardboard and aluminum, which are considered the high-dollar “cream” of recycle, were redirected to different bins, although the term “single stream recycling” means all recyclable items are dumped into one bin. As I concluded my visit, I was informed that I had to pay to recycle. This is not how single stream recycling works. I vowed never to return, and since then all my recycle items have gone to the landfill. At some point, the county will have no qualms about raising taxes to purchase property for a new landfill, all the while claiming they have no idea why it filled up so quickly. Maybe Clifford Lucero fed us a line of “miss-information” and Chris Tanner saw the handwriting on the wall. Recently, with a $136,000 grant, the county has installed a new bailer for $105,000 and added a forklift to its paraphernalia of recycle armament.
After the county’s vast investment in “faux” single stream recycling equipment, I wonder if it is a little embarrassing that the private company At Your Disposal offered “real” single-stream recycling at no cost to county residents? Could it be the cease and desist order had little to do with zoning and is more an attempt to avoid embarrassment?