Let’s Talk Recycling

By Brian Harrington, Laramie City Council Ward I

I’m sure you have heard by now that the City removed #3-#7 plastics from our curbside recycling, you can find the Boomerang article here. This decision came as the result of work session held several weeks prior to the vote. Often, the details that lead to the decision are presented in the work session and not presented, in detail, a second time. While this is an efficient way for those who attend every meeting, it can often feel like our decisions aren’t well explained. Here is a little background. 

The City of Laramie uses a “single-stream” recycling model which is proven to get the highest usage rates. Your unsorted recycling is collected curbside but the City Public Works team and trucked to our landfill. We sort out any obvious contaminants (trees, diapers, bags, etc) and then bail it for pick up. Waste Management collects the bails and transports them to Denver where they are sorted into recycling categories and processed. It is important to note that Waste Management is the only provider available for the City of Laramie.

During our work session with Waste Management, Council learned that the City of Laramie has been renting warehouse space to store our #3-#7 plastics until the markets improve for those recyclables. Unfortunately, there is no sign of that improvement in the foreseeable future. 

Simply, the use of plastics is too high and reduction is our only true option. We can’t recycle our way out of this problem. 

Glass recycling
 has been a hot topic since the elimination several years ago. Council Member O’Doherty has been working hard to find a solution to the “drive your glass to Colorado” recycling program. Her plan would bring back the large dumpster style receptacles and create a protected area at the landfill to store the glass. When the “bunker” is full of glass, a company from Colorado will handle transportation. Best of all, we are working to ensure this plan adds no additional fees to your city bill. Collaboration is at the heart of this effort, bring together our city staff, council, Wyoming Conservation (UW), and private partners. We are excited to be moving in the right direction with glass recycling.

It is important that we really drill down on the details of this plan to ensure it is built in a way that is sustainable. While we do that, please keep utilizing the efforts of the Wyoming Conservation Corps to keep glass out of the landfill.