I have been fielding many phone calls from concerned citizens that the recycling center is closing. Let me be clear: The center is not closing.

The district is considering options on improving efficiencies and determining how to fund our waste diversion efforts in the district’s community. We are considering what commodities make the most fiscally responsible sense to collect, process, store and ship. This is being tempered by carbon footprint impacts for the various scenarios considered. Another consideration for both current and future operations is the long-term impact on landfill utilization. We must consider what our geographically large community wants to accomplish and can afford to implement. The district community encompasses not only the City of Moab, but includes the Town of Castle Valley, the areas around Thompson Springs and Cisco, as well as northern San Juan County from La Sal to Spanish Valley, plus all the unincorporated areas of the Moab Valley, even those within federal jurisdiction.

The tonnages we are diverting through the community’s recycling efforts have almost doubled in just two years. As a result, we are having growth pains; we are outgrowing the area used by the recycling center for decades. Not only have we seen significant growth in recycling diversion, we received a record number of tons in the three late spring/early summer months that historically have been much lower. A problem with one of the two balers being out of service (which must be reinstalled) means we have not been able to keep up with the amount of material coming in from our citizens, above the usual mechanical problems our equipment has.

Knowing citizens are looking to the district to resolve recycling issues, the district’s board is conducting a workshop on Sept. 7 to discuss three options for the recycling program. The first option is the status quo (proceed at the current rate and materials and do not encourage any growth in diversion efforts). This summer has demonstrated this is not a practical solution. The second option is to expand the program through investment in newer equipment, constructing a new larger building or potentially moving to an entirely new, larger location, investing more in building and equipment. To pursue this option, we must decide what to pursue for collection, processing, and shipping. We must also address whether to continue the recycling program as district operated, privately operated or some combination of the two. And we must address funding. The third option to be considered (although many citizens are opposed to it) is eliminating the recycling center (either through completely shutting down or turning the program over to a separate entity (public or private). All three options should be considered and openly discussed; spreading rumors that the recycling center is shutting down makes the process very difficult and stifles public input into the decision. The board believes that is the wrong way to decide this issue.

We will post notices in various places confirming the time and location for the workshop on the district’s recycling program in the near future. In the interim, please call the district office at 435-259-3867 or speak to board members, to get the facts on what we are currently doing, how we are proceeding and what we are considering for the future of the recycling center. We welcome any volunteers to spend time at the center greeting people, picking up the windblown litter or helping clean up the drop-off area for those few individuals that are unable or unwilling to properly prepare their materials or put in the bags or bins. The recycling center has always been a community effort, and while options are being considered and decisions made, it will function best if it is still an effort by as much of the community as is willing to support it. Your interest and participation is wanted, and critical.