In the first week of the single-stream recycling program, Durango collected about three times the amount of recyclables compared to an average week in its previous source-separated program, or 70 bales of recyclables compared to about 25 bales, said Mary Beth Miles, the city’s sustainability director.
Figures on volume or weight of the recyclables were not available Monday because the recyclables won’t be measured or weighed until shipped to a broker in Murray, Utah, later this week for resale as a commodity.
Single stream is so popular that 200 residents are on a waiting list to get a new single-stream container next month because the city has run out of the first of batch of 2,000 containers. Residents need the new containers to participate in single stream.
While the response has been enthusiastic, Miles said residents are still learning the program, making mistakes such as putting glass bottles and jars into the single-stream container or bagging their recyclables in plastic.
Glass cannot be accepted because it will shatter and contaminate the rest of the recyclables, bringing down their commodity value.
Instead, glass must be taken to one of the four drop-off sites around town: Wagon Wheel Liquor, north City Market, Fort Lewis College or the Durango Recycle Center on Tech Center Drive.
Plastic bags are not accepted because they are not recyclable and can cause problems during the processing, such as getting caught inside the baling equipment.
“Unlike garbage, there’s really no need to bag the recyclables,” Miles said.
If residents still prefer to bag their recyclables, she suggested they use paper bags but emphasized that the city cannot take other paper products such as paper towels, tissues or dirty paper plates.
Residents who put the wrong materials in their containers could get a flier explaining how the system works. Wrong materials in the containers also add to the workload and hurt the efficiency of the program, Miles said.
Durango has converted its drop-off site to new single-stream containers as well as containers still designated for glass and cardboard.
In a few months, however, when improvements are completed at the recycle center, the single-stream containers will be removed from the other drop-off sites around town.
Noncity residents will be charged $1 per 60-gallon container of material they take to the Durango Recycling Center. City residents won’t be charged for dropping off their materials there because all city households will be charged a $3 monthly service fee for single-stream beginning in April.
Apartment and condominium residents might appreciate the city’s updated trash and recycling ordinance, which requires all multi-family residences of eight dwelling units or more to provide residents with the opportunity to recycle single-stream material and glass.