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April 24, 2012 7:41 am

EDITORIAL: Taking responsibility for trash

Written by Tessa Schweigert

Residents need to start sorting trash, recycling

After much ado about garbage in Park County in recent years, positive solutions to local landfill problems are transpiring.

Aside from Cody, communities around the county all face the same problem: how to transport trash to Cody when their landfills inevitably close.

A brief synopsis: Powell and Clark landfills will close in September to municipal solid waste — household garbage — because of state efforts to consolidate landfills in Wyoming and new lining and monitoring requirements. Meeteetse’s landfill closed two years ago.

Also in September, Powell city officials hope to begin building a garbage transfer station to temporarily store garbage before it’s hauled to the regional lined landfill in Cody. However, the city transfer station will only process trash from city residents. The Park County Commission declined to join Powell’s transfer station plans.

So, back to the problem facing municipalities and rural residents alike: How do we get trash to Cody?
Commissioners are leaning toward providing roll-off bins at the Clark site and may do the same for Powell — on the condition that users’ rates increase to cover the added cost of the service.

We encourage commissioners to provide this needed service for rural county residents by giving them an obvious place to take their trash when landfills close.

Roll-off bins make sense for Powell and Clark. County staff will still be at both sites, because neither landfill is closing completely. While they will stop accepting household trash, Powell and Clark landfills will continue to accept other waste, such as construction and demolition materials.

Since county staff will already be at the sites, they will be able to monitor bins without any additional payroll costs.

Roll-off bins also could help reduce illegal dumping. With increased garbage rates and spiking fuel costs, we worry more people will dump trash in ditches, on hillsides or in other places where it does not belong.

While county commissioners are key to solving local landfill problems, the burden rests on all of us.
Residents must be part of the solution.

If you don’t already, get in the habit of sorting everything you throw away.

After closing to household waste in September, Powell and Clark landfills will still accept some materials, such as asphalt, drywall, plaster, paperboard, sod, textiles and wood pallets.

Recycle everything that can be reused.

Now is the perfect time to get into the habit. Powell Valley Recycling announced last week that it will accept more items. At its new expanded facility west of Powell, the center now accepts pressed board (including cardboard boxes used for cereal, shoes, crackers, beer or shirts), plastic film (such as shrink wrap or dry cleaner bags) and propane cylinders (often used for camp stoves).

When you drop off items at Powell Valley Recycling, remember the Habitat for Humanity ReStore across the road. The ReStore accepts building materials, household furnishings and other home improvement supplies.

By taking tile, windows, doors and other home items to the ReStore, you save yourself tipping fees at the landfill — and you keep usable materials from wasting away in the landfill.

Recycling also will help lengthen the life of the new lined regional landfill in Cody.

As Powell Valley Recycling Manager Mary Jo Decker noted last week: “You look at all the things we’re taking, and there’s not a whole lot left in your garbage can if you recycle. Our landfill is going to close. We’re trying to give people the opportunity to take responsibility for their waste.”

We urge residents to take responsibility and recycle — it may take some extra time, but it’s well worth the effort in the long run.

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