Trash haulers are licensed by the city of Aspen. In order to receive their license, the hauler must provide recycling services to each of their customers at no additional cost.
The cost of recycling must be part of the total costs of trash services and not charged separately. Residents and businesses are not required to participate in the recycling program but the service is automatically included in their bill.
Residents must be provided with recycling for commingled containers and newspaper/magazines. Recycling must be provided as frequently as trash collection. Trash rates must be based on a pay-as-you-throw (PAYT) pricing structure.
Business and multi-family properties must be provided with recycling for commingled containers, cardboard, office paper and newspaper/magazines. Recycling should be picked up as frequently as needed (to prevent the material from overflowing from the containers).
The ordinance also bans grass and leaves from the trash.
Aspen was the first city in Colorado to provide recycling service to all businesses.
Many communities increase recycling to businesses by contracting for services or through a franchise agreement. Colorado law prohibits franchises or contracts for commercial trash and recycling, so Aspen used this policy to extend recycling services to all businesses.
To protect the small recycling haulers, a provision was included that the hauler was exempted from the ordinance if the customer chooses another recycler to haul their materials.
The ordinance took effect at businesses upon the renewal or termination of existing trash contracts. This allowed for more effective outreach toward businesses.
The city met extensively with businesses, residents and haulers to qualm concerns about space limitations, financial hardships, extra traffic, enforcement and education. The original ordinance included a three-year sunset clause to reflect these concerns, and in 2008 the ordinance was renewed.
If the recycling bin is contaminated with trash or there is yard waste in the trash bin, the hauler does not pick up the container and lets the customer know about the problem with an audit card provided by the city. The city is responsible for educating the customer and correcting the issue.
Haulers report the amount of materials collected twice a year to the city.
The city originally hired a full time staff to focus on the commercial implementation of the ordinance and the position has since shifted to half time. Staff was critical in ensuring hauler participation and having a “real person” to answer questions. Staff went door to door before and after the ordinance to educate businesses, speaking directly to or dropping off information with about 400 businesses, as well as offering assistance to set up bins and train staff.
There was some difficulty in working with the non-local haulers on recycling education and in working with landlords and property managers from out of state, but otherwise the community response was good.