GRAND JUNCTION, Colo. - In December, News Channel Five did a story about the 25 million extra tons of trash produced nationwide because of the holiday season. The story, titled the Garbage Grinch, inspired the Road and Bridge Facility District B to embark on their own recycling journey.
Pete Mathes has been with the Road and Bridge Facility for around 26 years, and he decided to implement recycling at the workplace. "After I had seen you guys on the news, I called Barrett, and asked him if he would be interested in doing a program up here. You know, he's asking for people in the public to recycle, why not start with Mesa County?" said Mathes.
The Barrett he's referring to is Barrett Jensen, the solid waste director at the Mesa County Landfill. Jensen and Mathes teamed up to bring recycling bins to the Road and Bridge facility, where the staff has started recycling their trash. "Everything went to the landfill for years and years, and really [we] weren't conscience about recycling. And you know, I'm getting old enough now, Mesa County's a beautiful place and I'd like to keep it that way," said Mathes.
Road and Bridge produces "a lot of cardboard from our crack seal materials, our asphalt products, an awful lot of cardboard," said Mathes. The cardboard can now be put in a dumpster reserved for it and is recycled, which saves a lot of room in the trash receptacle. Another form of trash that builds up in Road and Bridge are water bottles. There are around 5,000 water bottles used at the facility every year, according to Mathes.
Mathes hopes the recycling efforts maximize the landfill's lifespan, which has around 24-25 years left. "It's going away quickly. You know, I was here when the landfill started, so it's hard to believe that 20 years from now it'll be full. So everything we can do to help, I'd like to do," said Mathes.
Jensen said he is excited that his recycling message was heard by Mathes. "I really thank Pete for reaching out, I mean that was huge, I didn't expect it. And it really means a lot. It gives me a little bit of chills because it really is important," said Jensen.
Jensen encourages people to either visit or call the Mesa County Landfill to learn how they can take some small steps that could lead to a big difference.
Once the landfill is full, operators would have to pay to permit for a new landfill, and they would also have to maintain the current landfill for 30 years after that, which would be an expensive endeavor according to Jensen.
The Mesa County Landfill is funded by tipping fees, which are paid by people who come to drop off their trash.