As Teton Valley’s population continues to grow, the volume of trash appears to be growing at an even faster rate. Unsorted Construction and Demolition (C&D) waste strains the capacity of the Transfer Station and valuable materials end up being trucked to the Circular Butte landfill almost 90 miles away rather than recycled or reused. While Teton County residents currently divert (recycle, reuse, compost) approximately 32% of all waste going across the Transfer Station scale, there is still plenty of room for improvement as Teton County aspires to increase the percentage of waste diverted each year.
A collaborative effort between the County Solid Waste department (the waste processor), RAD Curbside (the waste hauler), and non-profit Teton Valley Community Recycling (TVCR), the waste reduction ambassador, aims to tackle the mounting waste problem with recycling, sorting, and other waste diversion efforts. The recent Bipartisan Infrastructure Bill signals the opening of several federal grant programs in 2023 specifically for Solid Waste/Recycling Infrastructure and Recycling Education. Thus, TVCR has decided to rehire former Executive Director, Iris Saxer, as a dedicated County Liaison to help Teton County pursue some of these larger federal grants to improve the Transfer Station facilities and increase the waste diversion capacity.
During her tenure as TVCR executive director, Iris was able to secure three large Idaho Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ) grants for our county – a $25,000 grant to educate and reward local contractors for sorting their construction waste; a $14,000 grant to provide 500 free backyard compost bins and fund a temporary compost educator in 2021; and most recently an $80,000 grant to help build a Construction Waste Sorting Facility at the Transfer Station. This sorting facility, slated for construction in 2023, has the potential to recover 40-70% of all unsorted C&D waste while providing additional revenue and jobs for Teton County.
Angela Saggiomo, TVCR’s current Executive Director, and the TVCR Board of Directors are enthusiastic about retaining Iris’s experience and connections in the regional recycling and waste reduction network. With a strong relationship between the Transfer Station, RAD, and TVCR all targeting high priority efforts, the county has a much better chance of securing federal funds and scaling up some of the recycling programs TVCR has been incubating.
TVCR is celebrating its 25th year as a local non-profit promoting responsible waste management and waste diversion. Prior to our inception, there was no recycling available in Teton County. Through the dedication of a committed group of volunteers, TVCR was born to establish a county recycling program, procure grant funds, collaborate with local businesses, advocate for ethical practices, and educate the community. As we reflect back on 25 years, we’re excited to grow our capacity in order to accomplish more at a county and regional level by adding this part-time liaison position while continuing popular community programs such as TerraCycle, Bags to Benches, Pierre’s Pedal Project, String Light repair/recycling, and convenient battery recycling drop-off sites.
If you are interested in getting involved with TVCR or the Waste Collaboration Committee which meets quarterly to discuss opportunities and challenges, please reach out to Iris at TVCRprograms@gmail.com. Please support TVCR’s community work through the 15th Annual Tin Cup Challenge and stop by to visit our booth at event day on Saturday July 16th at Driggs City Park.