Frequently Asked Questions
Yes, Pay as You Throw (PAYT) programs are in place in more than 7,500 communities in the US. In Colorado, PAYT and Universal Recycling programs are in place in many communities including Vail, Durango, Aspen, Pitkin County, Carbondale, Boulder, Ft. Collins, Golden and more. Many of these communities have landfill diversion rates between 30 and 38%, as a result of PAYT and Universal Recycling programs. Landfill diversion means the amount of recycling and compost materials that are kept out of the landfill. For comparison, Summit County’s diversion rate is only 20% and we have a communitywide goal to reach 40% by 2035.
The breakdown of organic materials—including food and yard waste—do produce methane when buried in the landfill. As a result, composting food scraps is incredibly important. HC3 and Summit County government have expanded food scrap collection in recent years. In 2021, more than 253,000 lbs of food was composted by residents through a free food scrap program offered in seven convenient locations (and counting). And, more than 40 businesses—including all four ski areas—are composting their food scraps.
HC3 will continue to work with local businesses and residents to expand food scrap collection. Once Pay as You Throw and Universal Recycling programs are up and running in Summit County, composting may be added to policies in future years. For most residents and businesses, recycling is easier to implement than composting, so the focus of the initial policy is on recycling and not composting. Keep in mind that recycling one ton of single stream saves nearly three tons of carbon emissions, meaning that this type of policy would be like taking an additional 1,300 cars off the road annually. Businesses and HOAs that have shared trash dumpster service should contact either Summit Roll-Offs or Timberline Disposal to add food scrap collection.
No, if you take your own trash to the landfill, these programs do not apply to you. These programs apply to residents and businesses that have trash collection service.
Yes, you may continue to use your current trash and recycling collection provider. These private companies (including Garbage Gurus, Summit Roll-Offs, Summit VIP, Timberline Disposal and Recycling, and Waste Management) will continue to operate and offer services in Summit County, and you will be able to choose your provider.
Yes. Recyclables placed in your single stream bin are transported by your waste hauler to the Summit County Resource Allocation Park (SCRAP) where items are compacted—all together—into large blocks called bales. The bales are shipped to a larger recycling processor called a materials recovery facility, or MRF, in Denver. In Denver, those recyclables are processed, sorted and sold to manufacturers making new products from your recyclables. However, if you place non-recyclables or dirty items into your single stream bin, it increases the overall cost of recycling and the non-recyclables end up in the trash regardless. In the worst and rarest cases, a truckload of recycling contaminated with too much trash could end up in the landfill.
Items recycled at the drop-off centers are also transported to the SCRAP. Staff bales cardboard, plastic #1 bottles, aluminum, etc. separately and sells these items directly to the manufacturers making new products.
When single stream recycling is collected at your home or office, everything gets compacted into the recycling truck, meaning glass breaks into tiny pieces. Glass shards ruin processing equipment, and they can become embedded into paper or plastics, which then become trash. Additionally, when glass is separated from single stream it can be infinitely recycled into new glass bottles. In other communities that accept glass in single stream, that glass is typically downcycled into fiberglass which is sent to the landfill at the end of its life.
Glass is accepted at all three drop-off recycling centers and at additional glass stations located throughout Summit County. For businesses and residents who share trash dumpsters, glass recycling service is available through Summit Roll-Offs, Timberline Disposal and Recycling, and Garbage Gurus.
Recycling “contamination” occurs when trash or non-recyclable items that people perceive as recyclable (i.e. berry plastic clamshells or plastic bags) end up in our recycling. Every community has contamination in their recycling, and resort communities with many visitors have higher contamination rates. The EPA estimates that average recycling contamination rate in the US is 25%.
Through the implementation of Pay as You Throw and Universal Recycling programs, we will have extensive outreach and education aimed at residents, visitors and businesses to ensure that recycling guidelines are clear. By offering consistent recycling programs across the entire community, providing onsite technical assistance to businesses and HOAs, and expanding Oops Tag initiatives (recycling containers are tagged with notes offering tips on how to improve recycling), we aim to reduce recycling contamination as these new programs roll out. There are a multitude of communities that have reduced their contamination rates using the aforementioned actions.
View the Breckenridge ordinance, along with administrative rules and regulations, by visiting the SustainableBreck website and selecting residential, business, multi-family or hauler. See the complete Frisco ordinance on the Waste Reduction page of the town's website.
Pay As you throw Questions
For Residents with Individual Bin Curbside Collection
Yes, you will receive curbside recycling. The new Pay as You Throw program will bundle trash and recycling service for all residents with individual bins. This will give you the convenience of having single stream recycling at your home. Single stream recycling will allow you to recycle metal cans, paper, as well as plastic bottles, jugs and tubs all in one bin. Glass is not included in Summit County’s single stream. You may continue to use the recycling centers which also accept glass, food waste and juice cartons.
Pay as You Throw applies to all residents with an individual bin, including group accounts paid through an HOA. Waste haulers will work with HOAs directly to determine options for each group account.
No, there are no plans for the free recycling centers to close with these new programs in place. Summit County Government operates three free recycling centers in Breckenridge, Frisco, and Silverthorne for residents. Residents who have curbside recycling collection are encouraged to recycle glass and food scraps at the free sites to reduce the amount of trash being landfilled.
Waste Management and Timberline will purchase the new bins. These companies prefer to use their own bins, as they know they work with their trucks and have branding that is visible down the street. Some of the smaller waste haulers require customers to buy their own bins, but this will not be a change since that's the way it currently works. If a Waste Management or Timberline customer has their own bin that works with that company's trucks and is approved by that company, a customer can continue to use their own bin.
The trash providers will keep any large bins that are traded in for smaller sizes, as long as the bins are in good condition and don't have an old company name (such as a company that is no longer in service). There is adequate demand for bins, so the companies will keep them in rotation. HC3 expects to offer a temporary bin recycling program for customers to bring old bins that are damaged or have old company names on them.
The easiest way to reduce your trash is to participate in the free Food Scrap Program. Residents can complete a simple signup form and drop off food waste for free at seven locations across the county. Many participants comment on how much less trash they produce once they begin collecting their food scraps for recycling (composting). Glass, which is not accepted in single stream, can be recycled at more than 10 locations around the county. Milk, soup and juice cartons, which are not accepted in single stream, may also be recycled at one of the three drop-off centers.
Universal Recycling Questions
For Businesses, HOAs and Residents with Shared Trash/Recycling Service
Commercial entities (including HOAs and businesses) that have trash service will be required to have recycling service. Half of Summit County’s commercial trash accounts with local waste haulers already have recycling collection.
Commercial entities will need to have 50% recycling volume compared to their trash service volume. For instance, a business with a 4-yard trash dumpster that is picked up weekly would need to have 2 yards of recycling each week. Recycling options include single stream and/or glass 96-gallon bins and/or cardboard collection in varying sized dumpsters. For commercial entities with public areas containing trash cans, recycling bins will need to be next to each trash can.
Businesses with liquor licenses (Frisco) and/or those who serve glass (Breckenridge) will be required to have glass recycling service. Additionally, hotels will be required to offer in-room recycling bins. HC3 is available for free site visits and to help your business or HOA comply with the new program. Email email@example.com to learn more.
HC3 will provide onsite assistance for HOAs and businesses, including site evaluations and recommendations. There is a two-year phase-in period for commercial entities to meet requirements, and an additional two-year extension available for commercial entities that provide evidence of compliance hardship.
We also expect that local governments and/or HC3 will also have a grant process to assist HOAs and businesses with a portion of the costs to reconfigure dumpster enclosures and to add recycling signage. HC3 will also create several sample enclosure configurations and best management practices to assist HOAs and businesses.
For businesses and HOAs that already have recycling service, as long as their recycling volume is 50% of their trash volume, they should not see any impacts to their bills based on the Universal Recycling program. Commercial entities that do not currently have recycling in place, will need to add recycling service, which will increase trash/recycling costs. Many businesses and HOAs find that over time (6 months to a year) – once employees, residents and/or renters learn that there is recycling collection on site – recycling volumes will increase and trash service frequency or the size of trash container will decrease, resulting in decreased costs for trash collection.