Summit County recycling drop-off centers are open 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. Click here for a map and detailed directions to the Summit County recycling drop-off centers. For more information, please contact the High Country Conservation Center at 970-668-5703.
Summit County Recycling Guidelines for Breckenridge, Frisco, and Dillon Drop-Off Centers:
Why Can’t We Recycle As Many Types of Plastics As We Used To?
The plastics industry designed various types of plastics including hybrid plastics without regard for recyclability. Simply put, there aren’t reliable collection and processing systems for number 1 through 7 non-bottle plastics. Decipher the recycling codes here.
Plastics Have Marginal & Questionable (Environmental) Benefits:
- Compared to other recyclables, plastics don’t have as many energy savings or raw material savings. When you consider how plastics are made – 80% of virgin plastic resin is made from natural gas in the U.S. then shipped to China to be manufactured and then shipped back to the U.S. to be sold and then shipped back to China to be recycled and remanufactured – you start to understand why our community needs to focus on alternatives to recycling plastics. Our priorities have always been to use funds and energy to maximize both waste diversion and environmental benefits. We can better use our resources to make a greater environmental impact.
- Lost Revenue in Devalued Materials: Mixed plastics (#1-7) are economically unsustainable to recycle. By recycling 1-7 mixed plastics in past years, our county’s recycling program made 70-80% (about $30,000) less than what they would have made if they collected only #1 and #2 bottles.
- No Local Markets for #3-7 Plastics: Our Plastics are Going to CHINA: There must be a market for a material to be recycled. Right now, there are no local markets for #3-#7 non-bottles and bags. Most #3-#7 plastics are actually going to China to be remanufactured. The bad news is that China does not have human & environmental regulations like we do in the US and there are few ways to track what really happens to recycling. The responsible thing to do is to use local markets, not to ship our resources overseas. The reason that corrugated cardboard, newspaper, #1 and #2 plastic bottles, etc., are commonly collected materials, is that there is a recycling infrastructure—processors and manufacturers—who want these materials and make them into products that are sold for profit and sold locally. Without this infrastructure—or market–recycling cannot be sustained.
- Be a Smart Consumer! Precycle first and tell manufacturers to take responsibility for their un-recyclable plastics & packaging.
Think Big Picture!
- Compost It: If you really want to divert materials from the landfill, composting organics is far more effective than recycling plastics #3 – #7. Organics (including yard waste, food waste, paper, paperboard, and wood waste) make up over 65 percent of the waste stream! Plus, organics break down anaerobically (without oxygen) in a landfill environment contributing to large amounts of methane, a greenhouse gas 72 times more potent than carbon dioxide in the short term. By keeping organics out of our landfill, you help combat climate change!
- Support Take-Back Programs: You may have noticed that plastics are everywhere – plastic bags, plastic bottles, and plastic packaging. In Europe, manufacturers are required to take back plastic packaging. Isn’t it time for manufacturers to make product stewardship a priority? Take-back programs give manufacturers the physical responsibility for products and/or packaging at the end of their useful lives. Support policy change for take-back programs; tell manufacturers to take back unrecyclable packaging and dispose of it properly.
- Precycle It: Plastics are a consumption problem, not a recycling problem. Recycling does make a difference by saving landfill space, conserving energy, reducing pollution, and saving resources. However, recycling should be the last step in the process if you think about it. Precycling allows you to reduce your garbage by not purchasing it in the first place. It is also a great way to use your dollar as your vote. As a consumer, you can choose not to buy products wrapped in non-recyclable packaging. Precycle first; recycle and compost what remains.
Please respect YOUR community recycling center!
- No Illegal Dumping!!! – Illegal dumping and contamination of the recycling bins increases the overall cost to recycle and it jeopardizes many aspects of our community recycling program. From mattresses to paint to TVs to carpets, illegally dumped items at the drop-off centers have increased costs to manage the FREE, public drop-off centers over the past few years. Offenders intentionally leaving materials that are not accepted could be cited and fined.
- Read the recycling signs carefully – they are there for a reason and yes, it really does matter what you throw in the bin! Some of the bins have moved around at the drop-off centers and recycling signs have changed. Please don’t risk recycling contamination – read the signs.
- Remember to turn off your engine while you recycle – the recycling center is a No Idling Zone. Idling is bad for our lungs and the environment. It also wastes gas! Turn your car off and enjoy the financial and environmental savings.
- Styrofoam is NOT recyclable at the drop-off centers – do NOT throw peanuts, ice chests, containers, cups… made of Styrofoam into ANY of the bins. Not only does it contaminate recycling streams, it blows around the recycling center and litters our walkways and surrounding forests. No matter what number it has, it is not accepted at any of the drop-off centers. Get the Facts on Styrofoam!
- Used motor oil, oil filters and antifreeze are NOT accepted at the drop-off centers – These materials are accepted, FREE OF CHARGE, at the Summit County Resource Allocation Park, located on Landfill Road near Keystone.
- Please EMPTY liquids and quickly RINSE food containers – Food contamination can inhibit the recycling process and even devalue recycling loads. Want to recycle? You have to rinse! We’re not asking you to wash your recyclables in the dishwasher. Simply pour out food containers and quickly rinse. It’s important to save energy too!
The Dirty Dozen!
Summit County Drop Off Center’s Most Unwanted Materials.
No Plastic Bags No Hazardous Wastes No Styrofoam No Brown Paper in Paper Bin No Plastic Lids or Caps No Juice, Soy, or Milk Cartons No Liquids No Ceramics or Non-Recycleable Glass No Tubs No Materials in Plastic Bags No Non-Recycleable Plastics No Plastic Packaging
Reduce Consumption or Recycle More?
Food for thought… check out these excerpts from Low-Fat Recycling from The Journal of Municipal Solid Waste Professionals by Josephine Valencia.
What are the real costs?
“Without firm knowledge of the recycling activities in which we engage, we are absolved of consequences. Recycling feels good, and perhaps we don’t really want to know what happens to this stuff. By occasionally recycling, we alleviate our environmental conscience and abstain from the need to learn more about the process.”
There has to be a local market!
- Some items are collected for recycling even though they have no economic markets in this country and are shipped overseas.
- Some items collected through recycling could potentially be dangerous or expensive to process in this country, and once again they are shipped overseas.
- In both instances, we ignore the environmental cost of transatlantic shipments, as well as the environmental practices of the receiving country.
- The Environmental Price – We are often exporting materials to countries that have lax environmental regulations compared to our own.
For recycling to be economically feasible, there has to be a market into which the collected materials can be sold, and there also needs to be a market willing to purchase the items as raw materials for their products…
- Mandate or support purchasing practices for recycled content.
- Require a minimum amount of recycled materials in manufactured products.
- Stimulate the buy-recycled loop!
- Reduce dependency on foreign countries to process our materials.
- Product Stewardship is a pollution-prevention movement that involves all the stakeholders of a product, including manufacturers, retailers, consumers, and government officials. All parties are encouraged to look for opportunities to minimize waste and reduce potential environmental liability.
- Extended Producer Responsibility (EPR) – Requires manufacturers to take responsibility for the entire life cycle of their products, including disposal.
Closing the Loop: Guide to Packaging Material Flows and Terminology – This informative guide defines the major packaging materials (aluminum, glass, steel, plastic, and paper) and introduces the various terms and synonyms that are applied to the materials during the life cycle phases of production, use and collection, and reprocessing in effort to solve communication issues among packaging designers, consumers, and recyclers.