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Digging through the trash to find better ways to recycle

In Summit County, a small group of people are digging through trash to improve recycling and reduce how much trash ends up in landfills.

DILLON, Summit County — There are a lot of things to do outdoors in Summit County. Digging through the trash isn’t usually the most exciting. 

Seven members of the High Country Conservation Center are doing just that at the Summit County Landfill.

“What we are trying to figure out is what is in the trash in Summit County, “ said Executive Director Jen Schenk. “So, we can figure out if there is an opportunity to compost or recycle what we are finding.” 

Credit: Matt Renoux

Trash cans full of garbage were dumped onto a table and then each and every smelly piece was sorted and placed into one of more than 30 bins. Some were for trash others were for recycling. Once full, the bins were weighed to figure out how much stuff is being thrown away that could be recycled.

When it comes to recycling Summit County falls fairly short of other communities around Colorado and the nation. 

Credit: Matt Renoux

“That means 20 percent of what we throw away is getting recycled or composted,” said Schenk. “As it compares to the national or state averages those are about 35 percent, so Summit County is way behind.” 

Credit: Matt Renoux

One reason for the shortfall could be so many tourists visiting Summit County who recycle at home but might not be thinking about that while on vacation or don’t have a way to easily recycle where they're staying.

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