Recycling Education Video
The Community Foundation’s Youth Philanthropy students awarded $500 to Teton Valley Community Recycling to create a short video to add to the collection at the Geotourism Center and to use for school programs. The video will highlight the detrimental environmental impact improperly-disposed solid waste wreaks on our beautiful wild lands and streams. It will also provide information on proper disposal of recyclables in Teton Valley.
Since the establishment of a Recycling Center at the Driggs Transfer Station in 2011, Teton County has seen a significant increase in the number of households and businesses that recycle. Our County has set a goal of exceeding the national average for waste diversion (37%) by 2020. We are well on our way with a current rate of 33.17%! All non-diverted waste is transported to the Mud Lake landfill 90 miles away, costing the County (and taxpayers) money ($134.15 per trip) as well as having the deleterious effect of putting more CO2 into the atmosphere.
Because Teton Valley is a remote location surrounded by mountains, it is costly to transport recyclables. Furthermore, there are no accessible markets for many materials (# 3-7 plastics, e.g.). Starting in 2018, due to new policies originating in China, the acceptable contamination rate for recycled materials has dropped from 5% to 0.5%. As a result, for Teton County to be able to sell our collected recyclables, we have to reduce the contamination levels of individual items and keep all non-recyclable items out of the County’s recycling stream. The cost of sorting machinery is high, so sorting in Teton County is all done by hand – by residents, RAD curbside employees, and our Recycling Center staff. Going forward, Teton County’s recycling bales will have to be “cleaner” to make them marketable.
Teton Valley is becoming an increasingly popular destination for visitors, tourists, and part-time residents who want to enjoy the beauty of our valley. A significant challenge we now face is the inadvertent contamination of our recycling bins by items that could be recycled in larger cities but can’t be in our remote location. Well-intentioned visitors often throw their #3-#7 plastic containers, food clamshells, and other items into the recycling bin. These items must then be picked out by hand at a great cost to the County.
THS students see the benefits of educating tourists, visitors and locals alike in order to alleviate costs and improve our environment. TVCR plans to broaden their reach by providing this short video for public viewing when they need the information most – when they are out and about in our town! The visual format will also be an effective medium for visitors who do not speak English as a primary language.