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September 18, 2012 7:38 am

EDITORIAL: The end of the landfill as we know it

Written by Tessa Schweigert

Residents must take responsibility for separating waste, recycling

If you’re not in the habit of separating your trash, now’s the time to start.

Why now? The Powell and Clark landfills close to household waste today (Tuesday), bringing the end to landfill operations as we’ve known them for decades.

That means it’s time to rethink trash.

Residents need to consciously think about what they throw away and what can be recycled. So much of what is thrown away doesn’t belong in the landfill. Many materials can be reused, recycled or repurposed.

Our community is blessed to have the expanded Powell Valley Recycling, which accepts cardboard, plastics and paper, and the Habitat for Humanity ReStore, where you can donate household materials such as excess paint, building supplies and furniture.

It may take more time to recycle, but it’s certainly worth the effort. Powell’s household trash now must be hauled to the regional landfill in Cody, so recycling also reduces the amount of fuel and money it will take to process trash.

Though closing to household waste as of today, both the Clark and Powell landfills will remain open for many dry materials. Any garbage containing liquids must end up in the lined regional landfill in Cody.

Beginning today, residents can dispose of bagged waste in separate roll-off bins in Powell or Clark, but the fee is higher. That’s part of why residents must pay attention now to what they’re throwing away.

If you take a load of trash that mixes dry materials — tires, plastic piping, grass, tree branches — with regular household trash, then everything must end up at the Cody landfill. However, if you separate those dry materials, then that load can go in the Powell or Clark landfills.

An easy way to distinguish between acceptable and unacceptable waste: if it could blow away in the wind or attract animals, then it probably is household trash destined for the Cody landfill, said Sandie Morris, county landfill office manager.

A more complete list of what is acceptable and unacceptable is available at the Park County Solid Waste office or online at www.powelltribune.com with Thursday’s landfill story.

It’s important for all residents to follow these new rules for landfills.

“We are trying to keep the Powell and Clark landfills open for as many other resources as possible,” Morris told the Tribune. “Sneaking or hiding your unacceptable trash (municipal solid waste) into the facility only adds to the chances of getting a permit violation and the possibility of losing the landfill completely.”

Many services remain available at the local landfill as usual, and that’s a good thing. But let’s start utilizing our local recycling services more and our landfills less, right now.

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