Area residents recycling fraction of recyclable waste


By Hailey Sams | SUN Intern

“Over 75% of waste is recyclable, but we only recycle about 30% of it,” states a brochure from Archuleta County. 

There are multiple ways to recycle locally, including for free through the county or through private operations such as Elite Recycling and Disposal and At Your Disposal. 

According to an email from Archuleta County Solid Waste Facilities Operator Jim Brinkmann, “If every Archuleta County Resident took advantage of the ‘Free’ recycling offered by the County, on average, their amount of weekly landfill bound trash could be cut at least by a third to a half.” 

He adds that recycling is one of the best options in reducing the amount of household trash that goes into the landfill. 

Most common concern

Brinkmann writes that the most common concern about recycling is, “Are we truly recycling, or just taking to landfill?” 

He states that, “the only recyclables that get thrown away are the ones that we have no outlet to sell or bales that get contaminated (i.e. water damaged, sun damaged).”

Recycling through Archuleta County is free and easily accessible for most everyone. The steps of the process allow thrown out materials to be reused instead of wasted. Brinkmann relayed that as you collect your recycling, and it gets picked up, it’s then bundled and shipped to the highest broker. Then it is sorted and made into a base for new materials. 

According to, Archuleta County has rules and requirements for sorting your recycling; 

• #1 and #2 plastics only, such as soda and water bottles, and soap, milk and detergent containers.

• Bound material must be removed of all staples and bindings.

• Damage and contamination to a load of recycling could result in it getting thrown away instead. 

Archuleta County sells its recycling to the highest-paying brokers and then it goes to mills across the United States, according to Brinkmann. 

“We ask our customers to sort their recyclables into the categories that our brokers are able to sell, from the bales we make,” Brinkmann wrote. “Single stream operations put the burden of ‘sorting’ onto either very expensive sorting machines or manual laborers.”

Recycling can be dropped off at the Pagosa Transfer Station located at 2140 County Road 500 (Trujillo Road). 

Other options

There are also multiple private companies that accept and haul recycling.

It can be picked up by At Your Disposal, which, according to, accepts a variety of materials, including;

• Flattened corrugated cardboard.

• Aluminum cans.

• Paper.

• Metals.

• Plastics #1- #2.

Another option for recycling in Pagosa Springs is Elite Recycling and Disposal, which takes its recycling to the Phoenix Recycling Center near Durango. 

This allows more material to be recycled and doesn’t have as many restrictions as Archuleta County’s transfer stations have. Elite recycles all plastics #1-#7 as well as most of what Archuleta recycles, except for electronics, although it still isn’t possible to recycle glass with them, states

However, due to a fire at the Phoenix Recycling Center, Elite Recycling and Disposal has had to temporarily suspend its recycling services, according to emails sent to customers. The fire happened June 29, and the damages are being evaluated. Elite does not know at this point when the service will be reopened and will reach out to customers when further information is obtained.