GREELEY - Greeley's downtown recycling drop-off center is closing because of high costs.
The city’s Natural Resources manager, Karen Scopel, told 7NEWS that Gallegos Sanitation, which owns the equipment and operates the facility, says the costs of providing service exceed revenue.
“The commodity market for recyclables has been down for a while,” she said. “The operator hasn’t been able to make a profit.”
The downtown center at 3rd Street and 11th Avenue is free to use and so popular that some drop-off dumpsters are overflowing.
"This is how much this site is used,” said Tawnya Spies, while tossing individual bottles into available space in one of the dumpsters. “It’s full all the time."
Spies says she’s disappointed the drop-off center will close January 12.
“It’s a shame,” she said. “We’re such a disposable society and we should be disposing of things properly.”
When asked if she’d be less likely to recycle once the center closes, Spies thought for a few seconds then said, “If there’s not a place where I can deposit it free of charge and do my part to help the environment, yeah, I would be less likely to recycle.”
Kari Mote, who lives four blocks away, rode her bike to the recycling center Thursday to drop off two bags of plastic and glass containers.
She said it’s ridiculous that they’re closing.
“Why would they do that,” she asked. “We’re trying to save the planet.”
Mote, Spies and other Greeley residents are reluctant to pay trash haulers an extra fee for recyclables. They say they’re already helping those companies save money by keeping recyclable materials out of the normal landfill stream, which in turn extends the life of the landfills.
“We all drive here, or bike here (to the recycling center) with our own gas to help save the planet and to keep the place a little cleaner,” Mote said. “We’re lowering our footprint on the landfills. Now we’re going to pay the guys who run the landfills more money?”
Scopel told 7NEWS that this isn’t the first time the recycling drop-off center has closed.
“The original operator, National Recycling, went out of business in 2011,” she said. “Gallegos Sanitation purchased the equipment and entered into an agreement with the city in early 2012 to provide recycling services.”
Scopel estimates that it would cost $45,000 to $55,000 a year to subsidize the cost of operating the center but added that the city is not currently budgeted to pick up that cost.
She said that in addition to the normal costs, “a significant problem at the facility was illegal disposal of materials, including household garbage, electronics and other materials.”
“This misuse of the site increased costs and lowered the values of the recyclable material because of contamination,” she said.
In a news release emailed to 7NEWS, Gallegos Sanitation said it's just the drop-off site that is being closed. GSI is not closing its industrial recycle center at 1216 N. 11th Ave.
In addition to contracting with their local trash hauler, Scopel said residents have other options.
“Northern Colorado Disposal has a free drop-off service at their facility at 59th and O Street, and there is a ‘newspaper only’ collection bin at Westlake Shopping Center.”
Scopel said people who want to recycle cans, can take them to Anderson’s about a mile east of town on 8th Street.
“I’m going to be really mad if I have to bike about 5 miles with my stuff and end up having to pay,” Mote said. “I might as well get a gym membership.”
Scopel said there will be some inconvenience.
“It’s sad,” Scopel said. “You hate to see a program like this go away, but I also know that people are creative and will find new ways to do things.”