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On April 8, Angel of Shavano Recycling will terminate its contract with Chaffee County and close its Poncha Springs recycling plant, according to a news release Tuesday from County public affairs specialist Beth Helmke.

Beginning April 8, the community drop-off recycling sites in Salida and Buena Vista managed by Angel of Shavano will be closed while the County evaluates alternatives for county-wide recycling programs. Updates will be provided and posted to www.chaffeecounty.org/landfill-recycling-locations as soon as possible to inform the community on updated recycling options as they are determined.

A special meeting of the board of county commissioners has been scheduled at 9 a.m., Friday, April 2, to discuss future recycling options.

“It has been a difficult decision for Angel of Shavano to close the business, but one that had to be made for our family’s growth and well being,” said owner Mickey Barry.

Since 2006, the county has held a yearly contract with the private recycling firm to process recyclable cardboard, plastics, aluminum, tin, glass and paper.

In recent years, the increased cost of recycling has led Angel of Shavano to raise its rates, leading staff at the town of Buena Vista, which like Chaffee County’s other municipalities, pays a portion of the recycler’s fee proportional to its population, to explore other options for recycling in town.

In 2018, Angel of Shavano limited the types of plastics it would accept to the two most common types, types 1 and 2. In 2019, the town estimated that recycling rates would rise by 30 percent in 2020.

In September of last year, Barry addressed the BOCC, offering them three options: they increase Angel of Shavano’s budget from $110,000 to $170,000, the county take over management of Angel of Shavano’s drop sites throughout the county and deliver recyclables to the Poncha Springs center, or that the county purchase Angel of Shavano outright, the Mountain Mail reported.

“The municipalities are working closely with the County on the next step messaging starting with the announcement that came today,” said Buena Vista town administrator Phillip Puckett. “We hope to come out with additional information in the coming days to direct residents and businesses to other options. We will also put up signage at the drop site very soon to help prepare people that we will not accept any materials after April 8th.”

“Chaffee County Administration, County Landfill staff, and the Board of County Commissioners (BOCC) are actively working with the local municipalities’ leadership to assess recycling options to address Angel of Shavano’s departure from this role,” Helmke said.

County Commissioner Greg Felt said that it is “important for our communities to have recycling options here.

“We also recognize that the commodity industry for post-consumer recyclables has continued to be flat, creating difficult market conditions for rural communities like ours. We thank the Barry family for their perseverance through several years of these conditions and wish them well in the future,” Felt said.

According to a trash audit of the Chaffee County landfill conducted by the Greater Arkansas River Nature Association. In 2018, the county generated 25,420 tons of waste, and in 2019 that figure increased to 26,237 tons. The amount of that waste that was recycled or composted decreased year-to-year from 2,058 to 1,912 tons.

That makes for an estimated landfill diversion rate 8.1% in 2018 and 7.3% in 2019, according to the report. The statewide average diversion rate in 2018 was 12%, and the national average rate is 35%.

On average, each resident of Chaffee County throws away 6.5 pounds of trash, the report said.

The April 2 special meeting on recycling will be held over Zoom at https://zoom.us/j/109079543.

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