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Efforts redoubled for recycling

by Merrie Leininger

Out of sight, out of mind.

Put the can by the curb at night, in the morning it’s gone. It seems that easy, but it’s not.

Douglas County Engineer Eric Teitelman explained that the county sold the land at the end of Pinenut Road to Douglas Disposal about eight years ago when they sealed the landfill.

Now, the trash is collected by the towns or Douglas Disposal’s trash collection and taken to what they call a transfer station. The garbage dumped onto an uncovered concrete pad and transferred into large semi trucks to be hauled to a landfill in Lockwood near Sparks.

Douglas Disposal does do some immediate sorting at the transfer station, a process recycling coordinator Jeanne Lear calls diverting.

“It is helping save virgin resources and save room in the landfill and reduce the hazardous waste that goes into the landfill. We spot for hazardous materials, like car batteries and oil. At the transfer station, we pull things like metal out because there is a market for it. The trickle down reasons are to reduce the number of trucks going to landfill and save on disposal fees and people can save on their garbage bills,” Lear said.

Yard waste is the only item locally recycled. Douglas Disposal has a program set up with Bently Nevada so the material, chipped into mulch, is re-used locally.

Lear said the current recycling center at the transfer station is not very large and doesn’t have the capacity to bale materials, which is how they are resold.

The county is currently off-setting the cost of taking the materials to the recycling center at South Lake Tahoe, where they are baled.

Drop boxes at Scarselli and Jacks Valley elementary schools are also hauled up to the South Lake center.

Despite the hassle, Carson Valley does do a fair about of recycling.

In 1999, 9,013 tons of material were diverted from both the Tahoe and Douglas areas. Lear said 91 percent of that comes from Tahoe. Douglas County recycled 822 tons of materials.

“One interesting fact is Douglas out-did Tahoe in the area of newspaper. That’s one of the reasons you target certain items, but obviously that’s a priority for the people in the Valley,” she said.

The new facility will cost about $2.3 million and will go out to bid in a month. Construction is expected to be completed by November or December.

“When we build the new permanent recycling center, it will have larger storage areas. Inside the new building, one half will be used for trash and the other for recycling and sorting,” Lear said.

The new building will make it cheaper and easier to recycle in the Valley, but will not include complete sorting of garbage on conveyer belts such as done in South Lake Tahoe. It will not include the capacity to do curbside recycling.

Lear said she often fields questions about curbside recycling pick up.

“I guess I would say we would be willing to provide any service the county deems is viable. There’s a core group of people really interested in increasing recycling, but that requires trucks, drivers and it still requires sorting. In an area as spread out as Douglas County, it would be more difficult, simply because distance,” she said.

Lear said once the transfer station is built, more drop boxes will be added, especially in Topaz Ranch Estates, because currently they are visited by a recycling truck only once a month.

“The county is subsidizing drop boxes at Jacks Valley and Scarselli elementary schools that are for beverage containers and newspapers. Those are brought up here and processed,” she said.

Lear said they also work with some larger businesses in the Valley to recycle their waste. Bently has a drop-off for employees only and Carson Valley Inn is recycling some materials.