By Ken Singer
Despite heavy rain falling the day before the annual community Clean Up Day, and some initial light rain on the day of, the decision to hold the event wasn’t officially confirmed until 7:30 a.m., just an hour and a half before the scheduled starting time. Planned and

hosted by the The Sustainable Futures Commission (SFC), the event’s main goal seeks to assist local residents in choosing to recycle and repurpose rather than landfilling household items and yard debris.

The event was held in the water-logged and muddy parking area of the Wastewater Treatment Plant across from Bohn Park. Rubber boots were the order for the day. While some wood chips were near the roll-offs, sticky, thick mud made for messy shoes and sneakers.

The volunteers were assisted by about a dozen inmates from the Boulder County Jail who provided a lot of muscle-power for stacking mattresses, chipping branches and leaves, loading scrap metal and wood, as well as sorting the items that could not be recycled and wound up in the roll offs that were carted away to the landfill. Also joining the SFC members were Lyons Volunteers, Eco-Cycle staff, ARC Thrift Store, and Boulder County Hazardous Materials representatives.

Toby Russell, the Town’s sustainability coordinator and Dave Hatchimonji, SFC chair, directed the SFC and other volunteers to their stations while vehicles were lining up before 8:30 a.m., along Second Avenue. The Town provided Town staff time and equipment, while hauling fees were covered by the Town with help from Boulder County’s Resource Conservation Division (“RCD”).
Coco Gordon kept count of the vehicles, and by the time Clean Up ended four hours later, she totaled 522, including pick ups, station wagons, cars, a delivery bicycle, several trips by a wheel barrow, a loaded golf cart, and a small sedan towing a large limb or small tree.

Eco-Cycle took some electronics, as well as Styrofoam, and its CHaRM program (Center for Hazardous Materials) accepted both the scrap metal and the hard-to-recycle items. Motor oil, anti-freeze and lead-acid batteries were taken by the RCD. 

There was a little initial confusion between some of the volunteers as to whether certain electric appliances were destined for the Eco-Cycle trailer or the scrap metal roll offs. Was a microwave, for example, less than fifty percent metal or more (scrap metal)? The answer, according to Eco-Cycle’s Dan Matsch (also on the SFC) was that “anything that contains a significant circuit board has to be recycled as electronics by law, regardless of how much metal it contains. The confusion is that we also accepted appliances (i.e. NOT a significant circuit board). If an appliance is more than fifty percent metal, it qualifies as scrap metal. If less than fifty percent metal, we can accept it with the electronics.” 

The goal of reducing landfill trash was to position the first trailer as vehicles entered for thrift store donations, followed by scrap metal, yard waste, unfinished lumber, Eco-Cycle, CHaRM, tires, and finally the landfill items.

At this point, it is difficult to get an accurate count of the weight of the material accepted this day, but according to Kathy Carrol, who coordinated the roll-offs for lumber, yard waste and landfill, “We did nine hauls on the trash (landfill), two on the lumber and two on the yard waste compost.” The scrap metal yielded an additional three. The final numbers for the tonnage of materials kept from the landfill will be posted by the Town as well as the person-hours of the volunteers. 

Town Public Works front-end loader operator, Chuck Mitchell, not only tamped down debris in the roll offs (CDOT requires covered trailers for transportation on the highways), but also used his bucket to load some of the heavier items.

As the SFC agreed, the closure time of 1 p.m., was strictly adhered to. However, a resident who unloaded his SUV at 12:45 asked if he could return with his water heater. He arrived at 1:01 p.m., but was allowed in. By any measure, it was a very successful Clean Up Day!

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