Dear Eartha, I own a business in Frisco and recently learned about the universal recycling ordinance. I’m not sure how it applies to my business. What do I need to know?
According the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, Americans only recycle 32% of our waste. In Colorado, our statewide recycling rate is only 16%. Here Summit County, the recycling rate is 20%. Both in the state and in our community, we recycle far less than the national average. And recycling policies, like the universal recycling ordinance, are designed to change that by making recycling easier and more convenient for more people across the county. In fact, one of the goals of this new program is to help our community increase its recycling rate to 40% by 2035.
How it works
The universal recycling ordinance applies to businesses and homeowners’ associations. To figure out if your business is included, ask these two questions:
- Is my property located within Breckenridge or Frisco town limits?
- Does my property currently have trash pick-up?
If the answer to both these questions is yes, you’ll need to comply with this program.
What does it mean to comply? Both recycling and trash containers are measured in volume. rniversal recycling requires your recycling service to be at least half the volume of your trash service. Say what? Here’s an example: If your commercial property has a four-yard dumpster that is picked up once a week, you must have a two-yard recycling dumpster that is also picked up once a week.
That can be a challenge in terms of available space, so you can use rolling carts instead. A 96-gallon recycling cart can hold half a yard of material. Two 96-gallon carts picked up twice a week would equal two yards, which is 50% of the 4-yard trash volume.
Because universal recycling is designed to increase access to recycling, all public-facing trash cans will also need companion recycling bins. And to make recycling easier for visitors, all hotels will need to provide in-room recycling containers, too.
Keep it glassy
Here is where Breck and Frisco’s Ordinances differ slightly: glass recycling. In Frisco, glass recycling is required for businesses with liquor licenses. In Breckenridge, glass recycling is required for all businesses that serve glass. Why the special add-on for glass? Glass is endlessly recyclable; that means it doesn’t lose quality or purity no matter how many times it’s recycled. Glass recycling also saves a significant amount of energy — it takes up to 30% more energy to create a new glass bottle than to recycle an existing bottle. For some context, recycling one glass bottle saves the same amount of energy used to power a spiral-shaped CFL lightbulb for eight hours! Worried about adding extra glass recycling containers? No problem — glass recycling counts towards the 50% recycling requirement.
Now that you understand the basics of the ordinance, the next step is to assess your space. Are you able to fit the required recycling bins in your enclosure or garage? Could you reduce your trash dumpster size? If you’re not sure where to begin, the recycling team at the High Country Conservation Center offers free recycling consultation to help you come into compliance. These local experts will share resources for enclosure or container upgrades and help educate your staff, tenants or homeowners. Contact the center at 970-668-5703 for a site visit. Or, to learn more about the program, join their recycling staff Wednesday, Oct. 11 from 3:30-5 p.m. for a universal recycling ordinance workshop at the Summit County Senior and Community Center. You can learn more and RSVP on the center’s website, HighCountryConservation.org.
The universal recycling ordinance may seem complicated at first, but the goal is simple: increase access to recycling for locals and visitors, which benefits us all by extending the life of the landfill. And you’re not alone — with free support from local experts, compliance can be easy. I’ll clink a few glass bottles to that.