Green Team turns 100 tons of trash into treasure
When the Carbon County Green Team first came together in 2009, the options for recycling in Carbon County were not plentiful. Now three years later, the numbers show recycling is growing among county residents, leaving Green Team members searching for more recycling opportunities in the area.
The Green Team started out small when bringing options for recycling to county residents two years ago with the modification of five trailers, specifically designed to accept paper products and aluminum cans. In areas around Price including on the campus at USU Eastern and in the parking lot at Sutherlands, the modified trailers are placed for people to stop by and drop off their recyclable materials. Each trailer, with the cost to purchase, modify and label the sides with sponsors and Green Team markings, costs about $3,000, according to Jeanne McEvoy, a Green Team member.
While Green Team members believed residents in Carbon County would embrace the idea of recycling, they didn't think the notion of recycling would take off as it has over time.
"Things have certainly come together very quickly," said McEvoy.
McEvoy, who also serves on the Price City council, estimates that since the trailers were first put in place back in April 2010, the group has collected and recycled nearly 100 tons of material. With five trailers currently in place around Price and Helper and four more on the way, McEvoy said the outlook for recycling is continuing to grow and expand.
"We've been thrilled with the reaction from the community towards recycling over the two years," she said.
The non-profit group has been boosted by the help provided by Price resident Loren Unsworth. Unsworth, 29, who also owns and operates Castle Country Salt and Water, has helped the Green Team by emptying out the trailers when they fill up and is responsible for storing all of the materials until they are ready to be transported to recycling facilities along the Wasatch Front.
He said he came upon an advertisement about working with the Green Team and decided to look into it the next day. He didn't realize how much of an impact it would have on him.
"I quickly realized it was more of a business venture than just a job," he explained while standing next to boxes filled with paper materials. "I just decided to take the leap and start working with the Green Team."
At his warehouse off Airport Road, Unsworth has large boxes filled to the brim with paper, magazines, newspapers and other paper products that can reach up to 800 pounds. About every two weeks, Unsworth heads out to unload the materials in each trailer. He says the process is streamlined because he can pull his vehicle up, hitch the trailer on and get back to his warehouse to unload the crates inside of the trailers pretty quickly. At any one time there can be up to 20,000 pounds of paper sitting in the warehouse, he said.
Concerns about contamination, or materials other than aluminum and paper products being mixed in with the recycling, is something the Green Team has been watching closely for since the trailers were placed. But so far, the contamination has been kept to a minimum, McEvoy said.
Over his 10 months helping the Green Team, Unsworth said he believes he has helped store and later transport about 80 tons of recyclable material. When the boxes are filled to the top, Unsworth stores them in a tractor trailer which can hold up to 46 boxes at one time. When the trailer is full, a company will come down to the warehouse picking up the full trailer while leaving a new empty trailer for Unsworth to fill up again. This process happens about once every two months, according to Unsworth.
"Logistics are complicated enough as it is, so for us (Green Team) starting out it's fantastic," Unsworth explained. "For what we have going right now, it meets the needs of the community. But our goal is to continue making the process as efficient as possible."
Other than scrap metal recycling, Unsworth said the area did not have a regular place to take recycling until the Green Team placed trailers around the county. Because the Green Team does not currently accept plastic and cardboard materials for recycling, Unsworth said people are unsure what they can do with the materials. But he, along with the Green Team, are working on a solution.
While the work is still ongoing to get funding through grants and other similar means, Unsworth said the goal is to get a baler which would allow for the Green Team to start accepting plastic and cardboard. A baler is key because recycling companies view the materials as being more valuable when it's baled, making a recycling company more likely to come to the area to pick up the materials, Unsworth said.
One recycling company said if the output of recycling materials in the area was doubled, there is a good chance at getting more funding from the recycler for the Green Team, Unsworth explained. This could lead to Unsworth searching for more help with the work at the warehouse and more opportunities for recycling in the county.
With many ideas and possibilities related to helping expand recycling are still being looked at, Unsworth and McEvoy both agree that while much progress on recycling has been made so far, there is a lot left to be done.
"Recycling in the area has gotten a lot better over time and it's very well accepted among the community," Unsworth said. "People keep saying to us that they are very eager for cardboard and plastic recycling."
For 2012, McEvoy said the goal is to double the amount of paper the group collects and continue educating the community on how to reduce and reuse materials.
"The Green Team is working really hard on a lot of things including expanding recycling to include plastics and cardboard," McEvoy said. "But as a county we've become very aware with recycling and its importance since the Green Team was created."