Much like trying to curb bad behavior from unruly children, Vail has issued (a very polite) ultimatum: stop misusing the community recycling location in town, or it will simply take it away.
Beth Markham, Environmental Sustainability Manager for Vail said it's a choice she's hoping not to have to make.
"We get a lot of items that are not accepted and that people...I think maybe, people are doing it out of the goodness of their heart to try to divert the waste and thinking that we can divert all things from the landfill," Markham said. "But unfortunately we can only accept the things we can accept!"
She's referencing not only the standard "that doesn't go in that bin" kind of mistakes with recycling (which, if you're looking to learn more about what can and cannot be recycled, check there) but also people straight up treating the center as a dump. Broken tables and chairs are left behind for a resale pile. Bags of actual garbage are left behind. Just on Tuesday morning, your Mountain Reporter Spencer Wilson spotted an old dog bed and some bed sheets that had just been left at the base of one of the recycling bins.
It's clear from talking to Markham that reducing waste is a passion of hers, she mentioned she'll come sort the bins herself to keep loads of recycling from being rejected after they are hauled away due to incorrect objects in the bins.
"Sometimes I'm able to fish it out but oftentimes... it is in the depths and I'm only willing to go so far," Markham said, laughing. "Dumpster diving is a thing I have done but try to stay out of it most days."
Markham said the center accounted for 11% of all the recycling in Vail in the last year, which amounts to somewhere near 420 tons of recycling. If the bad behavior continues, she worries about what will happen to the waste that won't go into the bins when they close the center.
"I would hate to see that end up in the landfill," Markham said.
There's no official timetable for when the bins would be taken away, just a threat of "next year" if the community doesn't shape up, and Markham said it would not happen overnight, there would be plenty of time for public process. But she said it's not a dump, and it's being treated like one, where the city could easily use that space for something better than a chore to get rid of people's trash for free.
"It could be used for parking or town infostructure... it's a little limited here, it is also wired back here for electric vehicles so there are some options."
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