One need look no further than 111 miles down the road to see how vibrant, healthy and robust recycling can (and should) be.

Curbside Recycling Indefinitely, located in Grand Junction, Colorado, has been in business for 25 years. They run a thriving, constantly growing business that picks up recycling curbside, manages a very active free public drop-off site and processes materials by type. The multi-stream, source-separated collection provides top-quality recyclable material that is in high demand with brokers throughout the United States. No sales to China, or any foreign markets.

We have one entity here, the Solid Waste Management Special Service District, which runs the landfills and the recycle center. That is an enormous undertaking, a task far too great for one organization. We need the operation separated, one from the other, so that recycling can succeed. Our recycle center could be run by a non-profit organization or a for-profit company, in a public-private partnership with the district. We would then see greatly improved conditions at the recycle center. This would also promote more items being accepted for collection on a permanent basis, a regular flow of material being sent to market and a solid foundation for a successful, lasting program.

We are incredibly lucky here in Moab. We know that when we recycle our aluminum cans, they will be recycled and could be back on the shelf in as little as 30 days. That is one of the most rewarding aspects of collecting and shipping sorted recycling to eager buyers.

Single stream, where all items accepted are baled together and then shipped off to a MRF (Materials Recovery Facility), kills the most beautiful part of recycling, while incurring losses of up to 40 percent of the items due to contamination. That percentage then must be landfilled, which is the opposite of what recycling is meant to do. Recycling creates jobs, lowers air and water pollution, provides material to manufacturers, saves pristine wilderness, requires less energy to process than virgin materials, extends the life of landfills and pays respect for the earth, which provides us with all we need to live.

We have been trained to be passive about what we produce and how we dispose of it. Recycling sparks creativity, and is an action we highly recommend over landfilling. Reducing is the number one “R” for a really good reason. Not producing something that can only be used once is the ultimate “win.” Let’s work on getting there together!

Sara Melnicoff