Manitou Springs may be poised to become the recycling leader of the Pikes Peak region through a new program that's expanding curbside pickup and incorporating a community drop-off center for recyclable materials.
The program, developed by a volunteer task force called Manitou Springs Recycles, kicked off last month.
Recycling in the city will remain strictly voluntary. However, by teaming up with a local waste hauler, Bestway of Colorado Springs, Manitou Springs Recycles has been able to expand the recycling services available to city residents.
By participating in the deal, Bestway has earned the marketing advantage of being the program's "preferred provider." In return, Bestway has agreed to:
expand curbside recycling for its Manitou customers to include newspapers, magazines, catalogs, office paper, junk mail, plastic, paperboard, and aluminum, steel and tin cans. (previously, the company did not accept office paper, junk mail and paperboard);
provide free recycling bins to residential customers for curbside pickup;
offer composting bins at a discount;
provide recycling bins to be placed in the downtown area and public parks; and,
develop and pay for a new recycling center where the public and businesses can drop off the same materials accepted at curbside, plus corrugated cardboard. The center's location has yet to be determined.
Bestway owner Phil Kiemel said the agreement allows his company to step up its commitment to recycling while also expanding its customer base. The company hopes to increase its number of customers in Manitou from 500, before the program began, to 1,000.
Many people have already switched from other waste haulers to Bestway since the program was announced, Kiemel said.
"I haven't totaled up the numbers," he said. "I think the numbers are fairly substantial."
If the program is a success, Bestway might try expanding it to Colorado Springs, Kiemel said.
Bestway has agreed to regularly weigh the amount of recyclables it collects in Manitou, in order to measure whether the program is successful.
Manitou Springs Recycles got started as the result of a symposium on recycling in the Pikes Peak region in 2002. According to numbers presented at the symposium, only 19 percent of household waste in Colorado is recycled, a proportion that places the state ahead of just three others -- Alaska, Montana and Wyoming.
The proportion of recycled waste in the Pikes Peak region is believed to be even lower, at an estimated 8 percent. While many cities across the United States require residents to recycle, Colorado Springs and other cities in the region have no such requirements.
Della Garelle, who, along with Independent publisher John Weiss, has been a lead organizer of Manitou Springs Recycles, said the group plans to hold several community meetings to educate Manitou residents about the new program.
The group also plans to keep working on other ways to increase recycling, such as encouraging local schools and businesses to step up their efforts.
"It's definitely a work in progress," Garelle said.
-- Terje Langeland
For more information about Manitou Springs Recycles, e-mail email@example.com. Manitou residents can sign up for the program by calling Bestway at 633-8709.