This article will be published in the Teton Valley News on September 10, 2015. It is republished with permission.
As you may know, after a several month process, on July 27th, Teton County, ID awarded the new solid waste hauler contract to R.A.D. Curbside. In October 2014, the county’s ten-year exclusive waste hauling contract with Voorhees Sanitation expired, and a waste hauler procurement team of ten residents was formed to provide the Board of County Commissioners with recommendations on how to move forward in order to meet our community’s recycling and waste diversion goals. After meticulously reviewing and scoring the submitted proposals from both R.A.D. and Voorhees Sanitation, the county awarded R.A.D. Curbside an exclusive “franchise” contract for seven years, which is set to begin this November. Idaho cities and counties have the power to enter into exclusive (“franchise”) contracts with “health, safety and welfare” service providers, such as waste and recycling haulers. For further reference, this story has been covered by the Teton Valley News and in the Opinion Editorial by Teton County’s Public Works Director, Darryl Johnson published in last week’s paper.
It is important to note that this contract applies to unincorporated Teton County, ID, and only residents that live outside of the city limits of Victor, Driggs, and Tetonia who want curbside garbage pick-up are required to sign-up for R.A.D. Curbside service. All residents can continue to self-haul garbage and recycling to the transfer station; this remains unchanged. Recycling and sorted waste drop off up to 350 lbs is FREE and available during transfer station hours of operation (Tues-Fri: 8am-3pm and Sat: 8am-1pm). Unsorted (landfill-bound) waste has tipping fees (e.g., $10 for household garbage up to 150 lbs max (or 5 bags)). Check online at tetoncountyidaho.gov for other tipping fees, info about what is/isn’t sorted waste, salvaging opportunities, etc. Since our local landfill closed due to environmental and health risks (and is now being capped to help protect our water, soil, and air quality), unsorted waste brought to the transfer station is trucked over 50 miles to the Mud Lake landfill facility in Jefferson County. This is time consuming and expensive. Recycling saves taxpayer money by reducing shipping costs, plus saves you money in tipping fees.
Teton Valley Community Recycling (TVCR) was formed in 1997 by grassroots volunteers committed to bringing recycling to the valley. In 2011, after a series of volunteer-run recycling programs, TVCR acquired funding (a grant and private donations) to purchase a materials baler for the Teton County recycling center. This enabled our county to launch a full scale recycling program at the transfer station. Since our municipal governments do not have a designated employee for waste diversion and recycling education, TVCR helps to fill this important role by leading public education efforts about the economic and environmental benefits of recycling and waste diversion. We also help the county look for funding opportunities to expand and improve waste reduction and recycling services. In recent years, Teton County, ID has made great strides in waste diversion, and now recycles all major commodities, including paper, cardboard, aluminum, steel, plastic bottles, and glass. After the first two years of a county-run recycling program, in 2013, our community reached a 20% landfill waste diversion rate. Due in part to increased education and outreach, more efficient operations at the transfer station, and the availability of curbside recycling services, the waste diversion rate in Teton County climbed to 28% in 2014. Our goal is to bring Teton Valley’s waste diversion rate up to the national average (34%) and then surpass it, becoming a leader for rural communities in the West.
TVCR is committed to help improve waste reduction, reuse, and recycling for everyone, including self-haulers. With funding support from the Community Foundation of Teton Valley and Silver Star Communications, TVCR is building an informational kiosk/bulletin board to display announcements and recycling and waste reduction information for the recycling center at the transfer station. We also will be publishing a newly updated recycling guide that will be distributed throughout the valley.
As the Executive Director of TVCR, I am pleased that recycling and garbage curbside pick-up options are expanding and becoming more convenient as a result of the new county waste hauler contract, and I am hopeful that this will boost recycling participation in the valley. Moving forward, TVCR will continue to be a community resource and fervent advocate for more convenient and efficient waste reduction and recycling services for taxpayers. We are excited to work collaboratively with the public, our youth and schools, local businesses and organizations, waste and recycling haulers, as well as the county to reach our landfill waste diversion goals.
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.