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Frequently Asked Questions about Single-Stream Recycling in Summit County, Colorado

Why does recycling matter in Summit County, Colorado?

Currently, the recycling-participation rate in Summit County sits at only 20%.  This relative lack of recycling threatens to close the landfill in Summit by 2056.  By properly recycling at your home in Summit County, you will help prolong the life of the landfill, push off the inevitable tax increases that will accompany the need for a new landfill, preserve precious natural resources, and protect the environment. 


What items may I put in my single-stream recycling bin?

Plastic bottles, jugs & tubs only and only if the bottle, jug or tub is a # 1, 2 and 5

Newspaper, office paper, magazines, cardboard & paperboard

Aluminum and tin cans


How do I properly recycle with the single stream process in Summit County?

Rinse your items—focus on removing large chunks of food—and recycle only what is accepted locally all together in the same bin.  By following these simple instructions, you ensure the efficiency and effectiveness of the recycling process. 


What does NOT recycle in single-stream carts?


NO plastic clamshells, commonly used to house berries, eggs, salad greens or takeout.

NO milk, juice, soup or other cartons.

NO plastic bags, NO plastic films and NO six pack rings.

        (Tip: Some of these materials, such as plastic bags, may be recycled at Walmart in Frisco for example, but they are strictly prohibited from single-stream recycling as they get tangled up in sorting equipment causing breakdowns, unnecessary delays and higher costs).

NO greasy pizza boxes (Tip: Tear the box top off for recycling and throw the greasy bottom into the trash).

NO shredded paper (paper must be larger than a post-it note).

NO scrap metal. (Tip: Transport your scrap metal to a self-recycling center or contact Garbage Gurus for a removal quote).

NO batteries. (Tip: Transport your batteries to a self-recycling center).

NO liquids. 

NO food. 


If you're unsure whether or not something is recyclable, remember the following:


ALSO, NOT RECYCLABLE:  EVERYTHING PLASTIC other than plastic bottles, jugs & tubs with a recycling number, including but not limited to plastics #3, #5, #6 and #7 and unnumbered plastics, mirrors, light bulbs, glass cookware or bakeware, drinking glasses, glass food & beverage containers, window or auto glass, porcelain, flexible packaging and multi-laminated materials, any recyclable materials or pieces of recyclable materials less than 2" in size in any dimension including shredded paper, microwave trays, ceramics, coat hangers, wet fiber, and household items such as cooking pots, toasters, etc..


Why can’t I recycle my #1 or #2 plastic clamshell containers from fruits, salad greens or takeout?

If you think of numbers like #1 or #2 as being the defining factor separating good plastic from bad, you are not alone.  Unfortunately, it is not that simple.  Thinner moldable plastics such as clamshells commonly used with fruits such as blueberries & strawberries, salad greens, and takeout containers, burn up and turn to ash in the chemical recycling process used by the vendors Summit County sells its plastics to.  Yes, recycling is a business, and recyclers do not want to buy useless or compromised plastics.  In order for any of the plastics to be usefully recycled, we all need to follow the local recycling rules.


Why can’t I recycle glass with Single-Stream Recycling?

Summit County Resource Allocation Park (SCRAP) does not allow glass in single-stream recycling.  Glass breaks into very small pieces.  Those glass shards get stuck in and contaminate other recyclable products and broken glass tears apart sorting machines used by SCRAP.  While proprietary technologies have appeared in the last five years or so to separate glass from other recyclables, this infrastructure and change is currently not supported by Summit County.  Putting glass into single-stream recycling in Summit County increases the hauling costs of recycling, is considered unacceptable contamination, and will turn your whole recycling cart into trash if noticed.  


What should I do with my glass?

Garbage Gurus uniquely offers a separate, residential, biweekly, glass-only recycling service.  We will collect your glass bottles and jars together in any color, no sorting required, in a glass-only tote, 14 gallons.  This must be pure recyclable glass bottles and jars.  Any compromised items mixed in with glass will automatically lead to the whole cart being reassigned to trash.

If you are unwilling to pay for Garbage Gurus Glass Recycling Service, you are strongly encouraged to self-recycle and take your glass to one of the following recycling centers located around Summit County:


Breckenridge:  284 Coyne Valley Rd, Open 24/7

Dillon:  Dillon Town Hall Parking Lot, Open 7 AM to 10 PM

Frisco:  County Commons next to CO State Patrol, Open 24/7

Summit Cover:  North parking lot at Elementary School – 1st week of every month


If you are unable or unwilling to recycle your glass, please bag it with your household trash.


Why do I see some of the same Garbage Gurus trucks used for recycling collection and trash removal?

Garbage Gurus collects and compacts recycling with the same trucks it uses for trash removal.  Rest assured, recycling and trash are collected on entirely different routes.  However, if recycling at a home has been commingled or otherwise improperly “dirtied,” then Garbage Gurus handlers will need to leave bad recycling behind on recycling days, and will then empty the bin into a truck on the next trash removal day.


What happens to my single-stream recycling in Summit County?

Single-stream recycling is transported from your home to the Materials Recovery Facility (MRF) located at the Summit County Resource Allocation Park (SCRAP).  Here your recycling is organized, baled, and then shipped to Denver.  In Denver the bales are sorted and directly sold to end users.  The material is only useful if it is clean and all the same type.  Otherwise, the material is thrown away, wasting time and money for both the MRF and the buyer.  When end users consistently purchase contaminated material from MRFs, they may stop sourcing recycled materials, undermining the purpose of recycling, due to economic reasons.  As a recycler, you help ensure the efficiency of the process by rinsing out your containers and by only recycling what is locally accepted.

I operate a Vacation Rental Home.  How can I trust vacationers to properly follow the local recycling rules for Summit County?

Repetition, visibility and consistency in messaging are key.  Garbage Gurus will supply your vacation home with written content to add to pre-stay emails, signs to add to your Welcome books, posters to hang near your garbage cans and recycling bins, and stickers to clearly label your cans.  All of this content will work hand-in-hand to educate guests as to local recycling guidelines and to inform your guests about what to expect from Garbage Gurus and when to expect it.

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