This article was originally published in Teton Valley News on May 2nd, 2013. It is reposted with permission.
“Why do I have to take my recyclables to the transfer station, and why do I have to go through the scale house when I only have recyclables?” As the director of the nonprofit organization, Teton Valley Community Recycling, I get asked this question a lot. The short answer is that no one has to wait in line or take their recyclables to the transfer station. There is a curbside recycling program in Teton Valley, RAD Recyclers. If convenience is your main concern, curbside pickup is a great option for you. If your main priority is that recycling is free, you can utilize the bins at the transfer station. As with most things in life, the free option requires a little bit more time and energy. In a community as small and rural as ours, we are lucky to have both options. That said, there are a few changes taking place this summer to make recycling more convenient.
First, the transfer station is adopting extended summer hours from May 16th until September 19th. On Thursdays during this period, the transfer station will be open to the public from 11 am to 6 pm. Transfer station hours the rest of the week will remain the same. We hope this change will enable people who work a 9 to 5 schedule to drop off recyclables after work on Thursday nights.
The second big change is that the transfer station will have a separate entrance for recyclables on May 18th for Spring Cleanup Day. Rather than waiting in line with the trash haulers, those with recycling only can drop off recyclables on the north side of the facilities. There will still be bins inside the transfer station for those who have both trash and recycling. Electronic waste, such as old televisions, computers, printers, and cell phones, should also be brought through the main entrance. The county hopes that this change will ease the wait time for everyone taking advantage of the Spring Cleanup specials. A full list of deals is available on the Teton County Solid Waste and Recycling web page under “announcements”.
One of the biggest concerns with satellite recycling bins is that they will be contaminated. One bag of trash thrown into a recycling bin can render the entire load unsellable, and incorrectly sorted recyclables creates more work for staff to separate later. Teton Valley Community Recycling is working to get better signage for bin users, and we have stationed volunteers at the bins during busy times to help educate users. If the experiment on Spring Cleanup Day goes smoothly, it is possible that the separate recycling entrance will be utilized on other days.
Ultimately, if recycling is cheaper and more convenient, there will be more participation. However, we need more participation in current programs before we can expand them. I encourage everyone to participate to the best of your ability in our current recycling programs. Only after we have evidence that a large percentage of the public is participating will more changes be possible.