This article will be published in the Teton Valley News on December 10, 2015. It is republished with permission.
It has been a busy year for Teton Valley Community Recycling and for recycling services in Teton Valley. TVCR board members, staff, and volunteers, as well as our municipal governments and local businesses are working hard to increase knowledge of, convenience, and participation in recycling programs in Teton Valley. Building upon ever-increasing momentum, waste reduction and recycling has grown leaps and bounds since TVCR helped the county purchase a recycling bailer in 2011. While expanded infrastructure has made a key difference, it is increased participation in recycling that continues to help increase waste diversion in Teton Valley. Recycling in Teton Valley now supports private industry jobs, saves taxpayer money, and brings in over $50,000 annually to our county government. Yet, last year, over $200,000 of recyclable materials were not recycled, but instead hauled to Jefferson County’s landfill located in Mud Lake. Coupled with increased educational efforts, more is needed to update and expand recycling and waste diversion programs in our county and region.
Earlier this spring, TVCR kicked off our “Teton County, ID Road to Zero Waste Campaign,” a fervent outreach effort to increase awareness and participation in waste reduction, reuse, and recycling in Teton Valley. With grant funding from the Community Foundation of Teton Valley and Silver Star Communications’ Caring for the Community Grant Programs, as well as private donations, TVCR recently completed updated “recycling guide to Teton Valley” brochures for our community (available on our website at www.tetonrecycling.org). We also created Recycling Guide posters and built an informational kiosk/bulletin board for the recycling center at the Teton County, ID transfer station. In the coming months, we will be distributing these brochures and posters throughout Teton Valley at local businesses, government buildings, and special events. If you have a business or organization that would like to display the brochures, please contact me.
While the need for education and outreach about waste reduction, reuse, and recycling will remain into the foreseeable future, TVCR believes regional waste diversion programs are the next opportunities for helping us reach our waste diversion goals. Imagine a regional effort that allows for broader scope recycling, lower costs to our county, and increased revenue from the sale of higher volumes of waste diverted from the landfill. This big picture thinking was discussed during TVCR’s strategic planning meeting held last month. Moving ahead, TVCR is evaluating the potential to spearhead a regional recycling and biomass effort. Last year, representatives from Teton Counties, Idaho and Wyoming, Fremont County and Madison County, Idaho, as well as businesses and several nonprofit organizations joined forces to determine the feasibility of this type of effort. You can view the findings of this report on our website (look for “Regional Recycling Study Report” under Waste Diversion Plans).
Further, it will continue to be important for TVCR and other recycling and waste reduction advocates to expand our reach beyond the “choir” in order to reach our maximum potential. It takes an entire community to help make recycling a regularly practiced behavior and to realize the many benefits of waste reduction and recycling. The most obvious benefits are saving tax payer money and environmental resources since recyclable products are diverted from the landfill, and when sold to market, these products bring in revenue that is reinvested back into our local community.
If you would like to participate in TVCR’s efforts to grow into a regional support organization, we are looking for volunteers to serve on our Board of Directors and perform the legwork needed to initiate collaboration with counties, states, businesses, and other stakeholders in our region. If you are interested in helping us out, please contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org or leave a message at (208)354-2800. Thank you, and happy holidays!!
Jen Werlin is the Executive Director of Teton Valley Community Recycling. For more information about waste reduction, reuse, and recycling, and/or to become involved with our community-wide efforts to reduce litter and landfill waste, please visit tetonrecycling.org.