Nonprofit Spotlight: Recycle Utah
Glass! It’s the bane of Summit County. With no curbside recycling, the eco-friendly wine, beer, and kombucha-guzzlers among us must horde their used glass like squirrels stock acorns. Then, at some semi-regular interval, we load up all the empty glass bottles and make a quarterly, monthly, maybe even weekly visit to Park City’s friendly neighborhood recycling center. No doubt, most of you reading this have been there. But did you know that it’s not just a happening recycling scene, but also a nonprofit organization doing so much more than accepting our semi-valuable waste?
Yes, Recycle Utah has been at it since 1991. Today, they not only recycle our stuff, but also help local business be more environmentally friendly, educate the public, and host regular events. We chatted with Director of Outreach and Communications Haley Lebsack to learn more about what Recycle Utah is up to …
Choose Park City: How has Recycle Utah evolved since it first started?
Haley Lebsack: In 1991, Recycle Utah was the only recycling solution in Park City. There was no curbside, and the Park City Conservation Association DBA Recycle Utah was created to offer a solution to an ever-growing waste management problem. Currently, Recycle Utah sees over 400 cars a day and diverts 3.5 million pounds from the Summit County Landfill.
Former board member, Christie Babalis, says it best, “I don’t know if there is anyone in Summit County who has not been touched by what Recycle Utah does, whether they realize it or not.” We started as a drop-off location with a few clean-up events. Now, in 2018, we educate over 5,000 students a year and work with over 70 Summit County businesses to improve their sustainability in our Green Business program. We accept over 50 items at the center and host four Dumpster Day weekends and two hazardous waste collection days.
What are your best recycling tips for Summit County citizens using your center?
Remember that waste reduction is always the first step. Where can you cut out single-use products? It’s as simple as using a reusable water bottle instead of plastic, bringing your own bag to the grocery store, buying bulk, and using your own to-go containers.
Reusing is the the second step. Can you utilize items for a different purpose before throwing them in the recycling or garbage bin?
Recycling is the third step. It is important to stay educated on what can and cannot be recyclable. Never bag your curbside recyclables; the bag will be thrown away because it cannot be sorted. Plastic bags, glass, and styrofoam cannot go curbside. They contaminate the load. If you are worried about contamination, the best thing you can do is talk to your neighbors. Ensure what they are putting in their bins is recyclable so that the entire load doesn’t end up in the landfill.
What is the biggest misconception about recycling?
A big misconception is that recycling is a money-making business. Recycle Utah spends a lot of money to ensure things like plastics, electronics, and packaging styrofoam get recycled. We do it because it is the right thing to do. Our future generations depend on it. Collection is also not diversion. It is important at Recycle Utah that you put the items in the correct bins. I’ve pulled plastic bags filled with ribbons and bows, golf shoes, diapers, etc. out of our paper bin. If we don’t catch it here, nothing in that bag will get recycled. Bagged recyclables of mixed materials will also end up in the landfill.
You just held 100-Mile Meal. Was it a success?
100-Mile Meal was a huge success. We sold out prior to the event this year. We raised over $30,000 at the event. I love this event because it takes hard work and collaboration from our board members, volunteers, staff, donating food vendors, and the Park City Mountain Culinary team to ensure that this event is a huge success. Our two biggest sponsors, Gallery Mar and Park City Mountain EpicPromise, have been with us from the beginning and really helped this event grow over the last three years.
Glass recycling is a challenge in Summit County. Will we ever see curbside glass pickup? We’ve also heard rumors that glass collected is buried in the ground. Set us straight on glass!
When it comes to glass we can only speak to what we do here at the center. We partner with Momentum Recycling. Our clear and green glass is turned into fiberglass insulation by a company down in the valley. Brown glass is turned right back into brown glass. And blue glass is used for flooring and art within construction.
One ton of recycled glass saves 42 Kwh of energy, 0.12 barrels (5 gallons) of oil, 714,000 BTUs of energy, 7.5 pounds of air pollutants, and two cubic yards of landfill space. Over 30% of the raw material used in glass production now comes from recycled glass.
Harvest Fest is coming up. Will this event differ at all from last year? Tell us why we should come!
Harvest Fest is in its eighth year. It’s our most family-friendly event of the year. We celebrate fall with pumpkins, apple pies, local vendors, and kids’ activities. This year’s Harvest Festival will be on Saturday, October 6 from noon until 5pm at the High Star Ranch in Kamas. The festival is free and open to the public. There will be dozens of vendors selling a dazzling array of local goods; you’re bound to admire the character, flavor, and creativity of the area! The festival will feature local food and drink, activities for kids, wagon rides, live music, local crafts, and more. The event is free and open to the public.
Save the date for Recycle Utah’s upcoming events:
- September 11: Green Drinks. Learn more about environmental education at the Park City Day School.
- September 27-29: Dumpster Days. Get rid of residential and yard waste. Donations appreciated! If you miss this one, it returns October 25-27.
- September 29: Household Hazardous Waste Collection. From 9am-1pm in the Canyons parking lot, get rid of your paint, motor oils, and other hazardous wastes for free.
- October 6: Harvest Fest. Take in live music, local food and drink, crafts and more in celebration of fall. The festival takes place from noon until 5pm at High Star Ranch in Kamas.
After every sale, I make a donation to a deserving nonprofit selected by my client. Nonprofit Spotlight highlights the recipients of these donations. My tradition of giving fits into the larger charitable mission of the nonprofit Sotheby’s Cares, wherein Summit Sotheby’s International Realty’s sales associates routinely give to worthy causes. We have donated to many organizations, including The Park City Foundation, the Mountain Trails Foundation, KPCW, Summit Land Conservancy, and PC Reads. Our contributions since 2010 amount to over $600,000.