Recycling Center celebrating 10 years

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By The Staff

The Bergen Park Recycling Center is celebrating its 10th birthday.

How did the tiny 83-year-old Martha Mott get the center established when King Soopers stopped recycling in February 1999? Mott was desperate about where to take the 9 tons of newspaper she collected annually from fellow residents at Green Ridge Meadow Apartments. If she didn’t find a solution, she would have to watch newspapers go to the landfill.

The Mount Evans Chapter of the Sierra Club and ENABLE helped her pull all the right people into a room to talk one April evening. By Oct. 1, Tri-R Recycling Co. was ready to greet recyclers at King Soopers’ unused building behind the store.

A loosely knit group of volunteers that called itself Mountain Recyclers became facilitators between community and Tri-R. For five years, every Thursday afternoon, Mountain Recyclers cleaned up what people left after hours so Chilo could open the doors on Friday morning. They wanted the experiment to succeed.

Some people threatened to stop coming if the center took only amber glass. That put Tri-R on the spot because hauling a money-loser (other colors) cost as much as hauling amber. The risk of losing the center was real.

Martha’s grandson mentioned that bankers often subsidized good causes, so Mtn. Recyclers and Evergreen Rotarians convened a few bankers to see if they would subsidize glass hauling for a year. The heroes who shared the expense were Peak National Bank, USBank, Community First, FirstBank and Colorado National. After a year, the gamble had been won. An increase in the number of recyclers translated into a bigger harvest of materials that had enough monetary value to offset the cost of hauling all glass.

A lot has changed over these 10 years. Martha died in 2003. Waste Management bought Tri-R in 2004. Fortunately, Chilo, the manager, was part of that package.

Individual Mtn. Recyclers have continued to expand awareness by working in various ways with students, churches and service organizations. By now Evergreen has two electronic collection days a year in addition to annual collections of household hazardous waste, tires, metal, document shredding and polystyrene blocks. The community participates through businesses, schools, Boy Scouts, the Park and Rec District, restaurants, Chamber of Commerce, fire department and even cooks. This year’s Big Chili Cook-off tried its hand at Zero Waste by separating beverage containers for recycling and collecting food and paper waste for composting. Will Evergreen one day have its own materials recycling facility that composts and collects everything?

Meanwhile, www.evergreenchamber.org/recycling lists all items you can take to the center and suggests to take recyclables not accepted at the center.

Please join us for coffee and cake on Oct. 31 between 10 a.m. and 2 p.m.