That is what it will cost to cap two cells at the Klondike Bluffs landfill that have reached (one very prematurely) capacity. That is $500,000 of your dollars. About 75 – 80 percent of what is in that landfill could have, and should have, been recycled or composted. This could be done for just a fraction of the approximately $13,000 the county spends each year to have their recyclables carted off to the landfill to be thrown away with the trash.
For those who think throwing something “away” is a good solution, let me tell you – there is no “away.” The dumps of the Roman Empire, some 2,000 years old, are still leaching toxins into the earth. And the Romans didn’t have the dangerous substances like those that we place in our landfills today.
Landfills are hell on earth – toxic and unstable places that require monitoring for years and years after closure. Worse, buried under layers of cover soil are the valuable raw materials for new products - leaves that could have nourished the soil, food scrap that could have been composted, containers used once and thrown away. Over $800,000,000 worth of aluminum is buried in our landfills nationwide. We are drowning in our own waste, and destroying huge chunks of the world to replace the items we throw out.
The latest crisis at the recycling center (T-I guest commentary, Jan. 1, 2009) forces the realization that it is far past time for the recycling center to become an agency of the Grand County Solid Waste District and enjoy the protections a government entity can bring to its long-term survival. The center struggles just to exist, when it should be exalted, appreciated and funded so it can grow.
Our community is too small and the demands for precious dollars by non-profits too high to rely on donations as a way of funding the center moving forward. By investing a tiny percentage of the dollars used to waste, the county could save hundreds of thousands of dollars, help keep our air and water cleaner, create jobs, reduce energy usage, and teach the personal responsibility that is vital to a good citizen. And, as recycling rates increase, they would actually realize a profit.
The city has recently taken steps to increase recycling citywide. It is well past time for the county to make the small investment in recycling that could, quite frankly, save the world.