No curbside recycling in Douglas County |

No curbside recycling in Douglas County

Andy Bourelle

Will Douglas County communities implement a curbside recycling program in the future?

Not any time soon.

Gardnerville and Minden have both discussed curbside recycling at their most recent monthly meetings – and both have decided it isn’t feasible to pursue at this time.

“I’m not against it,” said Minden’s Public Works Coordinator Greg Hill on Monday, “I just don’t think it’s economically feasible at this time.”

The Gardnerville Town Board, although recognizing that recycling is important, agreed not to take any action regarding curbside recycling at this point. Diane Pettitt, Gardnerville town manager, said Monday that the board felt all entities should be involved, including the county, the towns and general improvement districts.

curbside recycling is too expensive for Gardnerville to do alone, Pettitt said.

Hill said the largest financial barrier is finding markets to sell the collected items. Taking the recyclable material to a location where it can be either recycled, or distributed to a place which can do the work, is expensive.

Douglas County is not in close proximity to many markets for recyclable materials, Hill said.

Recyclable materials have to be shipped to markets where the items can be used. If those markets are far away, the cost is more. And if the cost is too much – which is the case in Douglas County, according to Hill – curbside recycling is not economically worthwhile.

Suzanne Sturtevant, recycling coordinator for the Nevada Environmental Protection Agency, said Monday that recycling is a business, although most people don’t realize it.

“In Nevada, if we don’t have a market for it (a recyclable item), it’s trash,” she said. “There might be a market for that particular material in New Jersey, or New York, or Ohio, or San Francisco. But if we don’t have a market for it, we can’t recycle it unless we ship it somewhere.”

But, Douglas County residents have expressed interest in the program, Sturtevant said.

“I think residents seem to be interested in having the service,” she said. “We get lots of phone calls as to why Douglas County doesn’t have it (curbside recycling).”

Municipalities with a population of more than 100,000 people are required to provide curbside recycling. No resident of Nevada is required to participate.

Sturtevant said Nevada communities which do recycle – including Carson City, Reno, Sparks, Incline Village, Las Vegas, Henderson and Boulder City – participate at more than a 50 percent rate.

Bill Fields, in charge of recycling for Capital Sanitation in Carson City, said residents there participate at about 62 percent. Carson City takes all of its recyclable materials to RSW Recycling (Reno, Sparks, Washoe Recycling) through Reno Disposal, where it is shipped out to different markets.

There are several ways to handle curbside recycling, Fields said, but Carson City emulates Reno’s plan because Reno’s recycling plant is used. Recyclable materials are collected once every two weeks, and paper, plastic, glass, newspapers, cardboard and more can be recycled.

Currently, locations for recycling are available in Douglas County. Sturtevant said Douglas Disposal has recycling available to those who want to bring their materials in. Also, trailers are placed at Silver City RV park and at Holbrook Junction a couple times a month.

Sturtevant’s said the state of Nevada calculates the percentage of material which gets recycled in Nevada and in individual counties. For 1996, of all the trash produced in Nevada, 15 percent of it is recycled. The number is up from previous years, but the state’s goal is 25 percent.

The United State’s overall recycling rate has grown from 11 percent to 27 percent in the last 10 years.

Sturtevant said the information received from Douglas County is incomplete. Therefore, according to state reports, Douglas County recycled only 2.24 percent of its trash in 1996. She said she believes Douglas County’s rate is higher than that, and believes the county has the potential for much more.

Washoe County had a rate of 17.61 percent, the highest in the state; Carson City had a rate of 13.55 percent.

Sturtevant said the key to increasing recycling isn’t necessarily getting more residents to recycle through a curbside program. Having businesses recycle more will make the most impact. Businesses which do recycle save money because they decrease waste.

One of the difficulties in encouraging recycling in Nevada, according to Sturtevant, is that the state has a significant amount of space which could be used for landfills.

“In the East, and in the Midwest, the states have so many people and such little space,” she said. “We have few people and lots of space. But just because we have the space, it doesn’t mean we should fill it with trash.”

The price of curbside recycling could vary significantly, depending on factors such as how often the trash is collected, equipment used, manpower, transfer of the materials and preparation before transfer.

“There’s definitely costs involved,” Sturtevant said. “If that’s what people want, they may end up paying for it, too.”

State money is available to the county to help. Sturtevant said Douglas County is eligible to receive $15,000 a year from the state to help in recycling.

“The state is willing to help as much as we can,” she said. “We can’t go out and fund the whole thing, but that’s a start.”

But although both the Minden and Gardnerville town boards have discussed the idea recently, neither feels it is a feasible option at this point.

“We do have a lot of people ask us about it (curbside recycling),” said Hill, “We’re looking at ways to accommodate those people without spending a lot of money.”

Gardnerville’s board also recognizes recycling’s importance.

“We’ve talked about it a lot,” Pettitt said. “At this point in time, the board doesn’t feel Gardnerville can do it on its own.”