Required business, multi-family recycling service on track for March start
After more than a decade of requiring that recycling services be provided for single-family homes and duplexes, Steamboat Springs is on track to mandate commercial recycling services for businesses and multi-family complexes in March.
Steamboat Springs City Council directed staff to host public outreach meetings this month before a planned first reading of the ordinance on Feb. 7. Attendance at the input meetings has been moderate with most attendees asking questions and expressing support for the proposed ordinance, said Winnie DelliQuadri, the city’s special projects and intergovernmental services manager.
The top concern voiced by business owners has been having sufficient space for additional containers to collect recycling in locations where trash dumpsters are already squeezed in tight, particularly in downtown Steamboat, DelliQuadri said.
City staff addressed those concerns by proposing four grouped recycling drop-off spots throughout downtown that are kept locked for use by subscribers. The locations include city-owned lots on Eighth Street near Back Door Grill, near Clyde’s Pies on Seventh Street, the alley side of 840 Yampa St. and at the City Hall complex.
Assuming City Council approves the ordinance, the requirement for waste haulers to provide service will be rolled out across 18 months.
Within the first six months, 33% of commercial recycling customers would be served, followed by 66% within one year and 100% at 18 months. Commercial locations that can show a hardship with extreme space constraints or cost issues can request a two-year waiver. The new ordinance would also require haulers to provide recycling collection capacity that is half the trash service, Community Recycling Coordinator Alicia Archibald said.
Archibald has been tasked with helping business owners, housing complexes, HOAs and other commercial recycling customers with a variety of items, such as educating employees about reducing contamination, establishing consistent signage and providing information on state grant programs that can assist with funds to update a commercial waste enclosure. Archibald can be reached via email at firstname.lastname@example.org.
A 2020 community recycling survey showed 94% of respondents favored more commercial recycling, with 72% “strongly” favoring the service. In addition to public desires, the city is working to meet waste diversion goals set in the Routt County Climate Action Plan to increase the overall waste stream diversion rate to 46% by 2030 and 85% by 2050. A 2021 community recycling study conducted by LBA Associates in Denver showed the recycling diversion rate in the city is at 9%, with construction and demolition waste topping the list of materials sent to the landfill.
Nick Sharp from Rex’s Family of Restaurants and business owner Steve Caragol attended a public input meeting on Tuesday, Jan. 24, and voiced support for a commercial recycling ordinance.
“Rex’s always recycles and always will,” Sharp said, noting the company’s restaurants already coordinate with neighboring businesses to share dumpster space. Sharp said the proposed ordinance “is probably a no-brainer.”
Caragol asked city staff to provide several recommended waste enclosure designs that would work for all trash haulers. Rebecca Bessey, the city’s planning and community development director, said commercial developments built within Steamboat are required to include screening on three sides for outdoor refuse containers and dumpsters.
The commercial program focuses on improving single-stream recycling for combined glass, metal, plastic containers No. 1 and No. 2, cardboard and paper materials. Current commercial recycling efforts are inconsistent in frequency, limited in materials diverted and plagued with high contamination levels, Archibald said.
Winn Cowman, waste diversion director for Yampa Valley Sustainability Council, said commercial entities considering recycling mention space, cost, confusion and time to sort as some of the complicating factors.
Lacy Coupe, controller and assistant general manager at Twin Enviro Services, said some businesses in Steamboat have opted for cardboard-only recycling service, although the more comprehensive single-stream service is the same price.
One reason to move forward on the commercial recycling ordinance, DelliQuadri said, is to solidify processes and costs in advance of the state’s new Producer Responsibility Program for Recycling that should be implemented in 2026.
The new state law passed in June is intended to help fund recycling across the state through annual dues paid by producers of products sold in Colorado that use packaging materials and paper products. By July 1, 2025, a producer may not sell or distribute products in Colorado that use certain packaging materials unless the producer is participating in the program.
To reach Suzie Romig, call 970-871-4205 or email sromig@SteamboatPilot.com.