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Recycling Challenges

Mountain Waste & Recycling offers recycling services as a way to reduce our collective impact on resources. We also believe in transparency when it comes to the costs of our services. Mountain communities share a unique set of challenges when it comes to recycling. We are located a great distance from the large materials processing facilities that sort recyclables and prepare them for shipment to mills.

In November of 2014, Pitkin County Commissioners decide to restrict the amount of recyclable materials they accept from haulers and reduce the number of county-sponsored recycling drop off sites. This means all haulers must transport that vast majority of recyclables collected to Wolcott, CO or Denver, CO. 

Transportation Cost Increases:
95% of the recyclables that we collect are transported to processing facilities out of the area because there is limited local processing available. 80% of our total recyclable materials collected are transported 60 miles to a processing plant owned by Eagle County. 20% of our total recyclables are transported 180 miles to Denver.recycling-map


Processing Cost Increases:

The Denver processors have begun charging haulers a fee to empty their recycling loads at the processing plants. In the last 18 months, the cost of recycling has increased over 300%.


Possible Additional Transportation Cost Increases:
We are concerned that the Eagle County government will join Pitkin County in making the decision to close its recycling facility. If this happens we will be forced to transport 100% of our recyclables to Denver at a dramatically increased cost.

Processing Cost Increases:
We have no way of determining the “ceiling” on the amounts that the Denver processing facilities will charge us to process the recyclable materials that we collect on your behalf.

Nationally, there’s an ongoing effort to effectively recycle materials using methods that are environmentally friendly and monetarily successful, but in our area we face immediate challenges that cause each of us to evaluate our own participation in the recycling system that exists at present.

We believe in what we do, and the promise of recycling and reducing our overall personal waste. As we navigate the intricacies of the recycling industry and how it affects our business practices, we remain committed to providing our customers with accurate, honest information about these issues.



Other Recycling Challenges


  • Recycling Paper and Cardboard? Here's the right way to do it.


    There’s more to recycling than just tossing items into a bin. Use these tips in light of COP26.
    -Katie Teague

    If you order pizza regularly or receive multiple deliveries from Amazon every month, you’ve likely got empty boxes piled up somewhere in your house. And… learn more »

  • Recycling Is Broken


    Article written by: Maddie Stone.

    In Philadelphia, people like to recycle. Together, all 1.6 million of us generate about 400 tons of recyclable material each day. But since last fall, roughly half of the bottles and cans my neighbors and I have placed dutifully curbside in our… learn more »

  • Curbside recycling programs are now such money-losers that it's going to cost us more


    Article Written by: Steve Orr

    Published in: Rochester Democrat and Chronicle 

    Even as you diligently fill your blue box each week, the recycling industry has been turned on its head — and you may have to change the way you recycle, and pay more for it, as a…

    learn more »
  • Keep Calm and Recycle On: The Sky Isn’t Falling


    Chaz Miller, Staff Writer
    WASTE 360

    Recycling is a dynamic process forced to change as products evolve and markets fluctuate.

    Recycling is in the news and not in a good way. Newspapers and television news shows are full of stories about its apparent death. If they are right, then… learn more »

  • Recycling is in trouble – and it might be your fault


    Paul Singer, Staff Writer

    If you are recycling at home, you are probably doing it wrong.

    That is why a worker lunged to grab a garden hose off the conveyor belt at a Waste Management recycling facility here Wednesday before it got caught in a giant sorting… learn more »

  • Recycling is growing, but Southwest Colorado is sending more trash to landfills


    Mary Shinn, Herald Staff Writer
    Durango Herald

    Even though recycling is on the rise regionally, consumers in Southwest Colorado are sending more trash to landfills than they were in 2007. For example, WCA Waste, which operates the Bondad Landfill, has seen an almost 7 percent increase from 243,487 cubic… learn more »

  • Through the looking glass, some envisioning a recycling rebound


    Jason Blevins
    The Denver Post

    Momentum Recycling, Alpine Waste see opportunity in shattered bottles, bailed Styrofoam

    John Lair rattles a plastic bag full of broken glass.

    There are bits of plastic, paper labels and chunks of food mixed in with the green, amber and clear — or flint —… learn more »

  • Low Oil Prices Interfere With What Recyclers Are Paid For Plastic


    The price of oil has been on a downward dive for a couple of years. This has been great for some businesses and not so for others. One industry hit especially hard is the recycling business. DAVID GREENE, HOST: The price of oil has been on a downward dive for a couple years now, and one business hit especially hard by low oil prices is the recycling business. Here's Stacey Vanek Smith from our Planet Money team. STACEY VANEK SMITH, BYLINE: Last spring, oil prices had just dropped in half from $120 a barrel to about $60 a barrel, and all of these recycling plants were going out of business. To figure out why, I visited Tom Outerbridge at Sims Recycling in Brooklyn, right near where live. learn more »

  • Reduce, Reuse, Remove The Cellophane: Recycling Demystified


    It's easy to think we're being virtuous when we fill up the blue recycling bin and put it on the curb. But it's clear we have embraced some magical thinking when it comes to what can be recycled. NPR's Dianna Douglas visited a waste management plant in Elkridge, Md., to get the answers from Michael Taylor, director of recycling operations for the plant. Taylor's No. 1 tip: Don't recycle plastic bags, even if they're full of newspaper. They gum up the whole processing system. Every few hours Taylor has to shut down the machines to remove all the plastic. learn more »

  • With 'Single-Stream' Recycling, Convenience Comes At A Cost


    "In many municipalities around the country, the days of sorting your recyclables for curbside pickup are long gone, replaced by a system called "single stream" recycling. But what happens after all those bits of plastic, paper, glass and metal get put in the bin? Because it's often collected by the same workers who pick up the garbage, it's easy to wonder if the recyclables make their way to the dump, too. But single-stream recycling ends up at a place called a materials recovery facility. An MRF is part warehouse, part industrial plant; a single facility can process hundreds of tons every day, using workers and high-tech machines." learn more »

  • Pitkin County wants more equitable contributions for recycling service


    Basalt only covering cost of Willits facility through April Pitkin County commissioners had a long discussion on the moral benefits of the area’s recycling program on Tuesday, but stressed that municipalities need to step up their share of funding to support the costly amenity into the future. The high cost of recycling service is being compounded by the commodity markets falling drastically in the last few years, making recycling facilities unprofitable. The county is now looking at having municipalities share the cost of service at a possible 50-50 clip. That would mean an annual match of $97,000 from the city of Aspen, $23,300 from Basalt, and $56,600 from Snowmass Village for operations. learn more »

  • Recycling Poses Conundrum for Waste Companies, Local Governments


    The vast majority of recyclable materials from the Roaring Fork Valley are being shipped across the Pacific Ocean. That’s according to a major area trash and recycling hauler. Recycling has been a hot topic among leaders in the Valley, as the price of collecting and trucking plastic, glass, and other materials out of the area is getting more expensive.

    "The chances of your recyclables going to China are probably in the 95% - 100% range,” says Scott Eden. He’s founder and President of Carbondale-based Mountain Waste and Recycling, the combination of the two companies Intermountain Waste & Recycling and Mountain Roll-Offs, Inc. “And there are a bunch of factors, that none of us control, that impact [sending recyclables to China]." learn more »