Tracking Trash Trends

Trash Talk

One man’s trash is another man’s treasure – treasure that could reveal some of the trends in our waste habits. So, a new study plans to look into the landfill to find out more about our trash.

There’s an issue even bigger than the tons of trash buried in the Mesa County Landfill, according to Solid Waste Director Barrett Jensen. “Everybody contributes to the 6.6 pounds per person per day, which is 2.1 pounds per person per day over the national average. We’re throwing too much away in Mesa County,” said Jensen.

The landfill cannot hold all of the trash forever. “All this is going to be full in 24 years… it’s hard to comprehend sometimes,” said Jensen.

Which is why the landfill applied for a grant from the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment, and they received almost $90,000 for a Waste Characterization Study. “We’re going to separate it by food, by paper, by cardboard, by metal, by what truly can be thrown away,” said Jensen.

The grant applied to more than just Mesa County. “We’re doing it here in Mesa County, we’re doing it in Montrose County, Gunnison County and Delta County,” said Jensen.

Those with the landfill, along with volunteers, will be physically digging through the waste. Jensen said he hopes this study reveals how many items of trash could have avoided going into the landfill. “For many years we’ve been telling people that 65% of what is going into the landfill currently can either be reused, recycled, or composted, and we’re going to prove that through this study,” said Jensen.

Jensen hopes residents will want to participate in the study, to learn more about what happens at the landfill. “We’re asking for people to volunteer four hours of their time. We’re doing this in the third week of June, believe that’s the 18-23, Monday through Saturday. We’re doing it all day every day,” said Jensen.

The goal of the study is to try and find a way to stop the landfill’s growth. “Help us in finding ways and identifying what we need to tackle, whether it’s us, whether it’s private companies, whether it’s the community, but this is something that we have to do together,” said Jensen.

The Waste Characterization Study will be in June and there will be another in October. If you would like more information, or to volunteer, call the Mesa County Landfill at (970) 241-6846.

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