Valley residents support
in-town recycling bins
By GREG MOORE
Express Staff Writer
Almost 90 percent of
respondents to a recent survey said they would use recycling drop-off bins in
Ketchum and Hailey, if such bins were installed.
That figure was part of a
survey of 700 people conducted by volunteers from the Environmental Resource
Center outside local post offices earlier this winter. The goal was to determine
how many people in the Wood River Valley know about their recycling options and
how many are recycling. Other questions pertained to ways the valley could
improve its recycling.
Eighty-five percent said they
feel recycling is "very" or "fairly" important, and 81
percent said they recycle at home. Only 1 percent said they "don’t
care" about recycling.
As a result of those
attitudes, Blaine County has the most successful recycling program in southern
Idaho. During a meeting with the county commissioners last week, Southern Idaho
Solid Waste Director Terry Schultz said Blaine County recycles 2,000 tons of
material annually, compared to a total of 900 tons recycled by all the other six
counties in the agency’s service area.
"It’s clear that the
mindset to recycle is much greater in the Wood River Valley than
elsewhere," Schultz said.
However, one of the main
findings of the ERC survey was a lack of awareness on local recycling options.
Many people indicated they do not realize that curbside recycling is available
for all valley residents, and that recycling is free for residents of Ketchum
and Hailey. Others are unaware there is a recycling center at Ohio Gulch
Transfer station, where most commodities can be recycled for free.
People were asked what the
main barrier to recycling in the valley is. Of the three choices offered—cost,
location and "too confusing"—over half picked location.
When asked if they would
support a downtown drop-off site to facilitate recycling, 92 percent said they
would use it to recycle items not in the curbside program. Those items include
cardboard, junk mail, plastic bottles, office paper and paperboard. Eighty-nine
percent said they would use a drop-off location to recycle all of their
"This is not a
surprising statistic for us," said ERC Outreach Coordinator Jeanne Liston.
"The ERC receives a lot of phone calls from people who are frustrated that
there is not somewhere in town to recycle. Many are tourists or second home
owners who are only here a couple weeks out of the year. They come from other
areas of the country where recycling is a part of everyday life, and they are
confused as to why such a sophisticated resort community does not make it easier
Liston said a previous
drop-off site in Ketchum was terminated after some people simply left their
"It’s not as easy as
it seems," she said. "But it’s something that the community wants,
so we’ve got to get going on it. We have to come up with something that works
Items that can be recycled at
Ohio Gulch are newspaper, magazines, glass, tin, aluminum, #1 and #2 plastic
bottles, junk mail, cardboard, paperboard, office paper, phonebooks, used oil,
batteries, antifreeze, used tires and yard waste. All but glass and yard waste
is turned into new products. Since prices for recycled glass do not cover
transportation costs, it is crushed and used as a base under the asphalt for
local highway construction.
Schultz told the
commissioners last week that even some items that can be turned into new
products are not profitable to recycle. He said those include paper, cardboard
and metals. The problem at this point, he said, is not insufficient recycling,
but demand by manufacturers.
However, all recycled items
help reduce the fees Blaine County pays to dump garbage at the Milner Butte
Landfill, near Burley. Last year the valley recycled almost 2,000 tons of
material, saving the county over $23,000 in landfill fees.
"This savings is money
that can be put toward other services in the community," Liston said.
"People want to know that by recycling they’re making a difference. I’m
here to tell them they are."
In an effort to increase
recycling awareness, the ERC has started a media outreach campaign. Various
community leaders have created newspaper and radio ads explaining how and why
Anyone with questions about
recycling can call Liston at the ERC at 726-4333.